Selecting Hevesi’s Replacement

29 Jan

Albany – is it getting any less dysfunctional under Governor Spitzer?

There’s a battle royal brewing between the two most powerful Democrats in New York State politics – Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Governor.

Hevesi’s replacement is to be chosen by the state legislature as a whole, which has a Democratic majority. Therefore, we’re deep in Silver country.

Predictably, therefore, Silver has been pushing for an Assembly Democrat to be selected.

What Albany chose to do is set up a panel of three ex-comptrollers (city and state) to help winnow the field down to (up to) five finalists.

The panel selected only three finalists, none of whom are Assemblypeople. The pushback on this started almost instantly. Governor Spitzer told the legislature to abide by the decision and pick from the three finalists, Howard Weitzman, Martha Stark and William Mulrow.

Silver has made some noise about completely ignoring the panel’s recommendation and picking whomever he wants. Spitzer apparently realizes that he’s in the midst of a war. For instance, today Spitzer was to give a speech and reporters were given an advance copy that read:

One of the core features of our new Four Year Investment Plan will be to establish universal access to quality pre-kindergarten education – something that has been a priority of Speaker Silver for many years.

Except, when he delivered the speech, he omitted the second part of that sentence – where Silver is complimented.

The New York Times has endorsed Nassau County Comptroller Weitzman, and warns Silver:

With reform starting to take hold, at long last, in Albany, it would be a disturbing slide backward if members of the Legislature abandoned the process in order to pick one of their own. We hope that they choose from the fine list of finalists, and that their choice is Mr. Weitzman.

Sheldon Silver, Joseph Bruno, and Eliot Spitzer agreed to use the panel of three “wise men” to help select a Comptroller candidate. There was no guarantee that the finalist/s had to come from the legislature, nor should there have been. The panel interviewed about 18 candidates and selected the three best ones. Not the three best legislators, but the three best candidates. As Capitol Confidential notes,

Silver really is in a bind here. If he goes along with the panel – and Spitzer – he risks mutiny among the members of his Democratic conference, who are already angry at the speaker for agreeing to the panel process in the first place when the state Constitution clearly gives the Legislature the power to pick the next comptroller.

But, if Silver sides with his members and bucks the panel, he not only risks a war with the state’s most powerful pol (Spitzer), but also the wrath of newspaper editorial boards like the one at the Times, which has been championing reform of Albany for years.

Albany – is it getting any less dysfunctional? The governor picked a fight with Shelly Silver. That in itself is pretty great. Better still is the probability that the governor will prevail.

5 Responses to “Selecting Hevesi’s Replacement”

  1. hank kaczmarek January 30, 2007 at 9:56 am #

    We hear a lot on politics about Litmus Tests. Here’s Albany’s.
    Sir Eliot has turned on a member of the ruling Junta in an attempt to reform the State Government.

    At the minimum, Spitzer has shown that he just might have a pair. It’s not easy to pick a battle within your own party. But perhaps, just perhaps, Eliot sees that is what he has to do.

    I’m reminded by the chant “The Whole World is Watching”. Well in this case, maybe not the whole world, but there’s sure as hell a lot of newspaper, media, bloggers, pundits and interested citizens waiting to see how round one pans out.

  2. Reinmoose January 30, 2007 at 10:39 am #

    Perhaps it’s time for a larger proportion of New Yorkers to finally start participating in their government. It’s time for every person who is reform-minded in New York to call their assemblyperson and warn them not to get in the way of reform.

    If Spitzer can pull off everything in his agenda, I will be the first in line to shake his hand. The other day I read an article proporting that Governor Spitzer’s “very favorable” rating was 75% thus far, and that’s higher than the percentage of people who voted for him. If the assembly gets in the way of reform, it can be seen as nothing but a declaration of war on the people of New York State, who have clearly given Spitzer a mandate.

    So far he’s managed to piss off:
    The health care industry
    (select) Superintendents
    (select) Teachers Associations
    His own party in the Assembly
    Joe Bruno
    I’m sure I forgot some..
    Many more who rely on the financing of the status quo

    Keep it up buddy!

  3. shopitall January 30, 2007 at 11:06 am #

    Is it possible that we’re finally going to muck out that cesspool in Albany?

    I LOVE it! Let’s see who’s is really BIGGER!

  4. lulu January 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm #

    Go, Eliot, Go!

  5. hank kaczmarek January 30, 2007 at 4:08 pm #

    shopitall & I agree on something? Ice Skating on the River Styx tonight!

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