Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Albany's "Silver" Lining Has Lost Its Glitter

Assembly Leaders Choose New Comptroller, Balking At Spitzer Panel's Picks

It looks like Shelly Silver, the Speaker of the Assembly, is getting his spoiled, rotten way again. The brat from the lower east side, locked behind closed doors with his fellow Assembly autocrats, has apparently ordained Long Island Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli as the successor to Alan Hevesi.

Not that we have any qualms about Tom D. taking the job. [Although, he's not an accountant, and doesn't even play one on TV.] Nice guy, though. Bright. And, hey, another Long Island boy in the Albany hierarchy -- what could be bad?

Still, in a year when the three men in a room were to open up government -- and the legislative process -- this behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, where Silver gets to pick one of his own, and everyone else gets to say 'yes,' flies in the face of both transparency and accountability.

Spitzer will likely be sore. Such is politics. Win some, lose some. He'll get over it. More than likely, not too far down the pock-marked road of politics, he'll get even.

New Yorkers, on the other hand, should not let this transgression slide off their backs so easily. The democratic process has been slapped in the face, as Sheldon Silver mounts his high horse, lance held to attack, shouting "my way or the highway."

It could well be that the Governor's panel's picks were less than palatable so as to soothe legislative rumblings, but that begs the question.

Or maybe the panel deliberately sleighted the legislature, the Governor trying to play his strong hand as he "steamrolls" down State Street.

That DiNapoli may prove a good choice, and a worthy Comptroller, misses the point. This decision should not have been Silver's to make, and, certainly, not Silver's decision alone.

Having agreed to the rules of engagement, the Speaker should have stuck to them.

Apparently, ever-accustomed to getting his own way, Silver can't stomach anyone else -- including the folks who elected Eliot Spitzer as Governor -- getting theirs.

On the Assembly's website, Speaker Silver refers to that esteemed body as "The People's House."

"One of the enduring legacies of a democracy is the critical role the people play in its operation," says Silver.

Okay, he didn't say which people, or how many. Maybe its three people. Or, in this instance, only one!

Shame on you Shelly. Bad boy!

We'd tell you to "go to your room," but you like it in there, don't you? Behind closed doors. Out of the public view, giving democracy -- not to mention the Assembly Democrats who let you get away with your shtick -- a black eye.
- - -
N.Y. Assembly Democrats Settle on Comptroller
By Michael Cooper

ALBANY, Feb. 7 — The Democratic-led State Assembly dealt a setback today to Gov. Eliot Spitzer by agreeing to elect Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli as the next state comptroller, reneging on a deal it made with the governor to choose only from candidates deemed qualified by an outside screening panel.

The matter will be put to a vote of the entire Legislature later this afternoon, but with Assembly Democrats controlling the biggest voting bloc, Mr. DiNapoli’s election seemed assured. The Legislature is in the unusual position of choosing a comptroller for a nearly full four-year term because the popularly elected comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, resigned in disgrace after he pleaded guilty to a felony late last year.

Instead of a popular vote, or the open process that the Legislature agreed to conduct last month, Mr. DiNapoli was chosen in a closed-door meeting of Assembly Democrats this afternoon. Applause could be heard from outside the door.

Members of the Assembly decided to disregard the screening panel after it recommended the names of three comptroller candidates, and none were members of the Assembly. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said after the closed-door meeting today, “I think the members thought he was the most qualified member, and the most qualified candidate, and they chose to nominate him.”

The decision was a slap aimed squarely at Governor Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, who had urged them until the end to stick with the process they had agreed to. In a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday, the governor said that by ignoring the process and agreeing on one of their own, “you are telling the public that only legislators are eligible to serve as comptroller, and that merit, independence and qualifications do not matter.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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