Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DiNapoli has earned the comptroller's job

Lawrence Levy Editorial Newsday

Larry is eloquently describing the feelings of Dinapoli supporters right now...and my sense is....Spitzer's Group is finally understanding how destructive and unfair the last week or so has been for Tom.....time to move on........andy

If Eliot Spitzer is right that Tom DiNapoli isn't qualified to be state comptroller, then Tom Suozzi should be governor.After all, before being elected, Spitzer supervised 600 people, compared with Nassau County Executive Suozzi overseeing 10,000. As attorney general, Spitzer never ran a social service and health care system or had to balance the interests of civic, political, business and labor groups. If Spitzer wanted his way, he could always threaten to subpoena. But the truth is that, even with a relatively weak resumé, Spitzer was more than qualified to be governor - and deserved to be over Suozzi.Why? Spitzer projected more of the strength, smarts and sensibility - and the selling skills - of a leader. He was appealing not just because he might (or might not have) passed some snarky "pop quiz" about the state, but because of his character and other intangibles.DiNapoli, despite Spitzer's disgraceful denigration of his qualifications, brings many of these traits to the job of the state's top fiscal watchdog. In terms of what he has done and, at least as important, his integrity, former Assemb. DiNapoli is as qualified as anyone who held or sought the job.If Spitzer wanted to influence the choice of the person whose office includes monitoring the governor's agencies and contracts, fine - he put only his own image at risk. If he believes that legislators should be hit for not filling the comptroller's vacancy from a list vetted by two former state comptrollers, H. Carl McCall and Ned Regan, and former New York City Comptroller Harrison Jay Goldin, it's his loss if the tactic costs him legislative support for his broader, more important agenda.I've whacked the legislature myself for its culture of greed and gridlock. It needs to be.But, besides risking real achievements, Spitzer is wrong to trash the reputation and record of an extraordinary public servant because he thinks (incorrectly) it serves his larger political aims. He also is wrong to tarnish an office that certainly doesn't need it in the wake of the Alan Hevesi scandals. Tarnish is what Spitzer has done. At his urging, so have some newspapers with their own cheap shots.Anybody who knows DiNapoli can't help but be amazed and saddened by the governor's angry jihad. Ask union members whose $150 billion in pension funds DiNapoli is now entrusted to protect. "There's an honest and ethical quality about him that makes us comfortable," said John Duer, president of the Sheriff Officers Association in Nassau. "I'm confident he will surround himself with very good people and that he is smart enough to know when he will need good advice."Or, as state civil-service union president Danny Donohue put it, his members "can rest easy knowing Tom will be the guardian of the retirement system."As for specific credentials, DiNapoli has a graduate degree in management and supervised more than 100 people in the decade he worked for AT&T. Neither Regan nor McCall had more private-sector experience. McCall and Goldin came out of Albany themselves. But neither had more years on fiscal committees than DiNapoli, who produced key laws on school and county finances.After watching most of the screening interviews, including DiNapoli's strong performance, I can say this: None of the candidates chosen by the comptroller's panel has a broader base of experience.Spitzer supposedly has ratcheted down his criticisms of DiNapoli, even as he travels the state bashing legislators for choosing DiNapoli. He must think this will bulldoze them into backing controversial portions of his budget, such as cuts in health care or shifts of wealth in school aid and tax subsidies.If anything, this will make them less likely to compromise. I hope Spitzer isn't someone who so enjoys fighting, or so resents not getting his way, that he would rather have a crusade than accomplishments.If Spitzer is half the honorable leader I still believe he is - and will need to be to fix Albany - he would not only stop smearing DiNapoli. Spitzer would apologize.

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