Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Smart move

Albany TimesUnion.Com Editorial

For those of us that have known Tom for many years...this is very typical of the way he does business.......Tom is not afraid to seek help or advice when needed......his ego is not out of control like so many others in state government.........andy

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli may not have the financial background to lead an office that is responsible for auditing government agencies and overseeing a $140 billion state pension fund. But as a former assemblyman, Mr. DiNapoli is anything but politically naive. That was evident last week, when Mr. DiNapoli showed that he knows how to defuse criticism of his thin resume. He did so by naming a commission to review the comptroller's office operations and make recommendations for improvements.
But it's not just any commission. This one is made up of influential financial and political minds. To begin with, Ed Koch will head the panel along with Frank Zarb, an expert on government finance. As a former New York City mayor, Mr. Koch knows more than a thing or two about municipal budgets. He can offer a wealth of advice to Mr. DiNapoli.
Then there are the commission members, including none other than Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County executive who ran an unsuccessful race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last year. Mr. Suozzi needs no introduction to anyone who has been following the efforts to reform the ways of Albany. Indeed, he was one of the prime movers of reform long before the average New Yorker began to grasp just how dysfunctional the Legislature is. His willingness to speak out and take on political leaders of both parties can only add to the independence that the comptroller's office must have if it is to been seen as an independent fiscal watchdog. Another member, New York City Comptroller William Thompson, adds the special expertise of a chief auditor with hands-on experience in today's financial world. And then there's Hugh Johnson, a former executive of First Albany Corp. and now chairman of Johnson Illington Advisors, who is often sought out by news organizations for his informed views on the ups and downs of Wall Street.
Mr. DiNapoli's impressive inner circle, which he hopes will help him "to be active in reforming government as a vigilant watchdog and an independent voice," can be seen as a direct response to critics like Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who called the comptroller totally unqualified after he was elected by the Legislature a month ago. Mr. Spitzer wanted the comptroller to be chosen from a list of highly qualified candidates chosen by a bipartisan screening panel.
The new commission will help blunt such criticism, but it will still be up to Mr. DiNapoli to set the priorities for his office. And that's a challenge only he can face, albeit with good advice from the sidelines.

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