Monday, March 05, 2007

Governor Gunslinger

New York Times Editorial

It seems every newspaper writer/editor feels compelled to sum up Spitzer's Administration to date...successes...failures...."the ends justifies the means"....back room/front room deals etc...bottom line ....things are finally getting done in Albany.......and by the way...DiNapoli getting the comptroller's job was a win for Spitzer as well....time will prove that point out........andy

A sleepy breakfast with New York City business and civic leaders last week turned into another lively battleground for Gov. Eliot Spitzer. As he defended his efforts to rein in Medicaid spending, representatives of the hospitals and health workers fumed in the front row, especially when he contradicted their mawkish television ads. When a reporter later mentioned how Mr. Spitzer had come out “guns blazing” at the health establishment, he smiled and warned, “that wasn’t guns going.”
Using such tactics, the governor has an impressive list of victories so far. In his first two months, he has chalked up reforms of the budget process, state ethics, and a workers’ compensation system widely viewed as the worst in the country. A campaign finance reform agreement is also said to be close. These are problems that have been mired for years in Albany’s political quicksand.
As with all such successes, there are some problems. In the case of workers’ comp, for example, there are still questions about how insurance companies can be persuaded to lower costs of compensation insurance. Mr. Spitzer has also had one notable loss so far, his effort to get an experienced hand to take over as the new state comptroller. The Assembly Democrats chose one of their own.
Mr. Spitzer’s one reform to date that is troubling is last week’s agreement on civil confinement legislation for dealing with sexual predators. It would be a profound shift in how the state treats those who have already served their time, and would mean locking people up for crimes they might commit in the future. The Legislature should hold new hearings to assess the wisdom of this specific proposal. The Spitzer confinement laws should not become this administration’s version of the unfair Rockefeller drug laws.
For all of his early successes, Mr. Spitzer has not yet managed to change the way things get done in Albany. These reforms were largely worked out the old-fashioned way — in the back rooms of the State Capitol. It makes sense that Mr. Spitzer wanted to push through some early victories, but if he plans to succeed over time, he should be doing more to bring the public into the discussion.
Polls show that Mr. Spitzer is enormously popular, and that the public backs his efforts to shake up state government. When the going gets rough, as it surely will, having the strong support of the public may be the most powerful weapon in his arsenal.

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