Friday, March 23, 2007

Gabe Pressman's View: Is Spitzer Tough Guy Or Bully?


Hey..whatever gets the job done.......this is what the voters wanted.....Eliot is certainly giving them their money's worth.......andy

If anyone had any doubts about it, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has dispelled them.
The new governor is tough, determined, and tenacious. He may be the strongest governor in a quarter of a century. Based on his first three months in office, it's clear that a new force has been unleashed in Albany, and its name is Eliot Spitzer.
This governor has a ''take no prisoners'' approach. His meeting the other day with the two leaders of the Legislature, Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno made this clear.
The Governor chided the Republican leader for advocating a budget proposal that was like a game of three-card monte, ''because every time you look underneath to find the money, it's not there.''
The Governor, anxious to complete the budget by the legal deadline, April 1st, tried to prod Bruno into action. He said that many critics - virtually every financial analyst and every editorial board -gave the Bruno budget bad marks.
Spitzer had arranged a meeting with the legislative leaders that were held in public view. This was a departure from an Albany culture that, for many years, has seen such meetings invariably conducted behind closed doors.
This innovation in itself is Spitzer's way of socking it to his political enemy. Reporters heard it all, including Bruno's weak rejoinder. The senator said that the Spitzer budget, by giving New York City a larger share of school aid than other places, would ''pit one school district against another.''
On Wednesday, Bruno charged that Speaker Silver and Democratic Senate Leader Malcolm Smith had been ''totally intimidated''' by Spitzer. Bruno told New York Post state editor Fred Dicker, ''He gives me a lecture.... that is not debate. That is not discussion. That is a bully.''
Occasionally, he may go too far, as in his recent tv commercial using the hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah to hammer his opponents on the health care issue. But he is effective.
Whether bully or hero, there's no doubt that Eliot Spitzer is a stronger Governor perhaps than any man since Hugh Carey. For the press he already is the most accessible governor in 12 years. Under George Pataki, the second floor of the statehouse, the governor's floor, was closed to the press. Now it's open, as it was in Mario Cuomo's day.
It's much too early to tell how it will all play out. But early signs are encouraging. Eliot Spitzer has taken command: a strong hand is at the helm.

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