Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mr. Spitzer's signals His meeting with good government groups reinforces his commitment to reform

Times Union Editorial

First published: Thursday, November 16, 2006

"For someone who's still six weeks away from actually assuming the governorship so long presumed to be his, Eliot Spitzer is making all the right moves. The symbolism and potential of his meeting on Monday with leaders of the state's good government groups shouldn't be overlooked.
What's at the core of Albany's dysfunction, again? Much of the problem is the sense of permanent incumbency that the Legislature enjoys. By controlling the redistricting process and failing to reform the campaign finance laws, legislators become more powerful and less representative.
Then there's the need for tough ethics rules in state government, and more stringent regulation of lobbyists.
A meeting requested by Mr. Spitzer with leaders of the League of Women Voters, the New York Public Interest Research Group, Common Cause and Citizens Action should leave his commitment to such reform beyond question. It's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine prior governors making such overtures to such unrelenting yet reasonable critics of how state government has come to operate. But Mr. Spitzer will be taking office under distinctly different circumstances than his predecessors. Public frustration, if not outright disgust, with the culture of state government could hardly be higher.
As Mr. Spitzer himself put it, "The definition of what is wrong with New York is pretty well accepted."
Even the leaders of the Legislature seem to accept that. Speaker Sheldon Silver is talking earnestly of the sort of compromise that's necessary to make the reforms that have been approved in the Assembly a matter of law rather than rhetoric. It is of course easier for the leader of a Democrat-dominated house to be willing to surrender the power to draw legislative districts or allow elections between more evenly funded opponents in a state where his party's enrollment advantage continues to get bigger.
It's up to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno to come around on these issues. It might be something he and Mr. Spitzer can discuss during the honeymoon he says they're about to begin.
It's the governor-elect's view that it's not the people who control state government that are the problem, but rather what's become of that system. If that means there's room to save face while fixing Albany, the change of administrations holds considerable promise. "

Eliot not only "talks the talk"......he "walks the walk" as well.........andy

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