Friday, April 06, 2007

Spitzer: How am I doing?


ALBANY - Like an eager junior executive, Eliot Spitzer spent much of February pressing a card in the hands of anyone he met, pitching his spiel in a quick patter on how he'd transform Albany.Politicians don't usually commit their promises in black and white like that, let alone laminate them in full color. But Spitzer did under the categories "fiscal restraint," "health care reform," "fully funded schools," "property tax cut" and "New York's turning point."Spitzer had swept to the governor's office last November after a campaign that confidently promised to change everything "on Day One."Nearly 100 days on, how's he doing?For some close to and within Albany's machinations, the view is as clear as the New York Post's state budget editorial, "Eliot's Education." It said: "Gov. Spitzer got taken to school last week, that's what happened - and New Yorkers will be paying for his crash-course in Albany realpolitik for years to come."That's a view shared by some political commentators who heard candidate Spitzer's bold promises but were disappointed that the budget isn't smaller, powerful lobbyists survived, and the budget process spiraled back into the covert, three-men-in-a-room negotiations that gave Albany much of its bad name in the first place.Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters is among the critics. She said the back-room budget talks were part of a process that hit "rock bottom," even by Albany standards.Beyond the budget, Spitzer's first 100 days did include successes. He secured his workers' compensation reform and doubled last year's property tax relief. Add to that his agreement with the Legislature on ethics reform and "breaking shares" so that school aid will now be based on need, rather than politics, and you have a policy record that hit many of his campaign promises, if sometimes only glancing blows."When all the surrounding dust settles and the public looks at what we accomplished, you will see this budget hit every one of the objectives I have laid out," Spitzer said.Tom Laudico, a 52-year-old electrician in Buffalo, remains optimistic."It's like anything else, you start a new job, you've got to get out all the kinks and dings," Laudico said. "It seems like he's going in the right direction. At least I hope he is. Hopefully something comes of it."The first 100 days were sometimes rocky for the governor who whipped reform into Wall Street as attorney general before he took on Albany. Political critics and a biting, multimillion dollar television campaign against Spitzer by a labor union targeted for his Medicaid cuts also appears to have helped erode Spitzer's popularity a bit. A Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday showed Spitzer's approval rating had slipped to 48 percent, down from 61 percent in February

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