Friday, December 29, 2006

Replacing comptroller early test of new Albany

The Troy Record Editorial

"When it comes to political appointments, the party in power has the right to choose its own candidate, a task the state Legislature and Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer must come to terms with next month.With Alan Hevesi's resignation as state Comptroller, it will be up to the Legislature to validate his successor. Since Hevesi was re-elected on the Democratic ticket prior to his resignation, it is appropriate that the Democratic majority in the Assembly gets the most-telling vote.The office of Comptroller should be above politics. The person in this position oversees the dispersal of state funds, monitors the honesty of vendors working with the state and, most crucial, is in charge of the state's $140 billion pension fund.Even with the winds of change blowing in Albany, however, it is simply being realistic to suspect that political favors, one-upmanship and territorial marking of turf boundaries could play a part in the selection process.What we should all hope for is that Spitzer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno let common sense and financial prudence determine the candidate for the post.First and foremost, we believe that the search should be conducted in the world of finance, not the corridors of power.
Whether the next Comptroller is Democrat or Republican should not have as much bearing on the decision as does the candidate have the fiscal savvy to deal with the complexities of the office.The $151,500 job should not be treated as a political plum. The only worthiness incumbent in the office is financial skill and the ability to see not just facts and figures provided by a large and competent staff and OK or veto them, but the ability to interpret figures in order to project state fiscal solvency far into the future.We need a person willing to stand up and tell the Legislature or the governor your idea is impractical, and that kind of person can't be selected as an appointment for services rendered in the past.This situation may serve as the test for Albany's political future. It promises to shape up as a juicy Albany story.It only remains to be seen if prudence can trump politics for once. "

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