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Archive for "Nov 08 2006"

Show Me, Spitzer

“The New York we seek will require a new brand of politics – a break from the days when progress was measured by the partisan points you scored or the opponents you beat,” Spitzer said last night.

As everyone expected, [tag]Eliot Spitzer[/tag] stomped his opponent, John Faso, into submission yesterday, getting about as clear a mandate as any candidate could hope to receive. His main talking point on the campaign trail was that Albany was horribly broken, and he was the guy who would fix it. His mantra was “Day One, Everything Changes.”

Okay, Eliot, prove it; kick [tag]Alan Hevesi[/tag]’s ass out of town, now. Regardless of Hevesi’s electoral victory in the comptroller’s race last night, no one will believe anything is going to change in [tag]Albany[/tag] if he survives. The man makes over three hundred grand a year, yet felt perfectly comfortable putting a state employee at his wife’s beck and call as her personal chauffeur. He had no problem letting his security detail, composed of retired cops–which was already costing twice as much as your own, Attorney General’s security detail–to double dip the tax payers’ pockets.

Hevesi’s gotta go, and everybody needs to know you were the one who sent him packing. Making that happen will involve the second thing I have to see you do if I am to take your “reformer” mantle seriously:

The comptroller has powerful friends – one of whom Spitzer also will need to neutralize if he’s to make good on his promise to clean up Albany.

That would be Assembly Speaker [tag]Sheldon Silver[/tag], whose iron control of his conference is legendary – and whose known conflicts of interest number almost too many to count.

Silver, for example, pockets a juicy paycheck from one of the state’s top tort-law firms, Weitz & Luxenberg – even while he single-handedly blocks meaningful tort reform.

The new governor will have to take Silver on directly. With his Democratic majority under his thumb, Silver holds veto power over bills.

He’s used that power maliciously, holding budgets and key projects hostage for whatever he or his friends covet.

You gotta kick Shelly “The Shitheel” Silver’s ass, as soon as possible. Shelly ain’t gonna go quietly into that night; that is going to be the hardest fight you’ll ever have in your life.

It’s not just that the Assembly speaker is one of the “three men in a room” who control all legislation and the $105 billion state budget in what has justly been dubbed the most dysfunctional state Legislature in America. Silver also bears a heavy share of responsibility for the shameful fact that the Assembly rarely holds meaningful hearings or debates on even the most important bills.

On top of that, Silver directs all committee assignments in the Assembly, which come with up to $41,000 in bonuses on top of a legislator’s base salary, meaning Silver controls his members’ paychecks to the penny – along with the amount of staff they get and the discretionary money they have to spend on projects in their districts.

Silver’s tight grip is no trivial matter when you consider that four of the five Democratic Party county leaders from New York City – Jose Rivera, Denny Farrell, John Lavelle and Vito Lopez – are assemblymen, de.pend.ent on Silver. And Farrell doubles as the party’s state chairman.

With so many political roads leading through Silver, Spitzer will have to rely on persuasion and public pressure to make the speaker change his ways.

The Shitheel is gonna be one mother of a nut to crack. Right now, he–not you–is the de facto most powerful Democrat in Albany. He doesn’t care a whit about public opinion, so you are going to need to get his fellow Dem assemblymen and women to stage a rebellion of sorts to make Shelly change his ways.

You turn that double play, Spitz, and I’ll begin to believe you’re serious about fixing Albany. If you don’t… well, I’m gonna start pricing out of state real estate.

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