Like in Network, Eliot Spitzer is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore! The odd thing is that he's not taken it very long. It was just 6 weeks ago that Spitzer was sworn in as governor, wearing his new Hickey-Freeman suit. But it's clear he means to make his mark. Cross him at your peril
The big blowup comes after Spitzer fired the former state comptroller, caught with his hand in the till. He then assembled previous state comptrollers to recommend new candidates. The state assembly said they'd go along, but then they reneged and gave the job to one of their own.
Spitzer was spitting nails. The Assembly's move showed a ‘‘stunning lack of integrity that is deeply troubling ... You have just witnessed the insider game of self-dealing that unfortunately confirms every New Yorker’s worst fear and image of all that goes on in the Legislature of this state,” he fumed. There was some party coming up....some get-to-know-you wing ding with Assembly members. Spitzer cancelled it!
It's an odd place to pick a fight. Yes, he lost the skirmish, but it's a petty skirmish. The Assembly's constitutionally empowered to do just what they did....choose their own guy. Moreover, the guy they chose gets high marks all around, and seemingly fits in well with Spitzer's reform program, except Spitzer didn't think of him himself.
No matter! Spitzer is here to kick some butts. And New Yorkers agree that butts need kicking, even if their not really sure....who actually follows state politics?....exactly which butts need it most. This is the Assembly that has presided over an ever more hopeless basket case mess-of-a-State, and the perception, right or wrong, is that these guys care for little else than protecting their own turf. So New York's indebtedness is second only to one other state, it's taxes are second to none, Medicaid expenditures are twice the national average, businesses can't leave fast enough, and the school graduates behind them. Only once in 16 years has the annual state budget passed on time...it's been up to six months late....these guys stake out territory and refuse to budge. Schools and municipalities can't do their own budgets, not knowing what aid they'll get from the state. Witty New Yorkers say things like (trust me, I know) "Last one out of New York, turn out the lights." The former governor tried to address some of these problems and these guys handed him his head. He learned to shut up and smile.
Rochester's quirky Bob Lonsberry suggests that Spitzer should have been more conciliatory. These guys (the Assembly) aren't going away, he points out, and unlike Eliot's former Wall Street foes, you can't throw them in jail or run them out of business. But it may be that Spitzer thinks nothing will change if he simply plays the game nice. No, Mr. Spitzer was elected in a landslide. He has lots of good will. The assemblymen have none. Many would agree with Ed Rooney .... "I’m all for a tyranical dictator. The beauty of hitting rock bottom is that you have no where to go but up."
Meanwhile, journalists are stocking up on popcorn. It's gonna be an interesting few years.