Saturday, December 23, 2006

Eliot turned his back, and that was that

New York Daily News Analysis DAVID SALTONSTALL

If "Day One" is going to have any impact at all..........if the voter mandate to "clean up" Albany and end the chronic dysfunction of state government is to be taken seriously.......what other choice did Eliot have???? Would not Hevesi.....the state fiscal watchdog gone after and investigated the same circumstances and facts if it was someone else???? andy

"The end of state Controller Alan Hevesi's chauffeur-driven road officially came yesterday, as he stood, pallid and shaken, before an Albany County judge.
But Hevesi's fate was actually sealed nearly two months ago by Eliot Spitzer.
It was on that day that Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, announced he was withdrawing his support of Hevesi over Hevesi's use of state-paid drivers to chauffeur his wife.
Because what truly derailed Hevesi, experts said yesterday, was not so much his pilfering and obfuscation - traits that Albany politicians have overcome before - but rather the affront he represented to Spitzer's branded image as a squeaky-clean reformist.
Getting Hevesi's resignation now relieves Spitzer of a major sideshow distraction once he becomes governor on Jan. 1, and means Spitzer doesn't face the prospect of having to initiate Senate removal proceedings against a member of his own party.
Spitzer can now focus on the business of replacing Hevesi, and yesterday he made clear what kind of successor he had in mind.
"He or she should have significant experience in financial matters," Spitzer said in a statement. "This is imperative, given the controller's role in managing one of the nation's largest pension funds.
"He or she should be a person of unquestioned integrity who will act independently in the interests of taxpayers.
"I will be working in partnership with the Legislature in the days ahead on this important task. I will urge the lawmakers to act in a way that helps restore people's faith in state government."
In the end, Spitzer's resolve proved to be a force more powerful against Hevesi than any Republican attack, of which there were many, or even the voters, who reelected Hevesi by a landslide, despite the "Driving Mrs. Hevesi" scandal.
Many believe Spitzer's tough line even emboldened Albany District Attorney David Soares, who must have known that any criminal charge brought against Hevesi would be supported - even applauded - at the top.
"This is all about the persona that Eliot has presented," political consultant George Arzt said. "Spitzer said he was going to change the way business is done in Albany, and clearly he had to start with Hevesi."

I was wondering what Mr. Spitzer would do about Mr. Hevasi.It's an early indication that he is serious about all this On Day One stuff. It would have been so easy for him to renig, pleading that since voters had forgiven the man, who was he not to? But had he done so, it would have been a huge blow to his image.

That said, I admit I feel somewhat bad for Hevasi. Not that he didn't bring it all upon himself and not that his penalties are undeserved. Only that, so many in politics (and elsewhere) have walked exactly the same path and the mousetrap didn't slap shut on them. Why shouldn't Alan try as well? The wife really was sick. Ah, well, cleanup has to start somewhere.

Wrong place at the wrong time for Mr. Hevasi.
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