Cuomo's Plan for New York:
Restore Trust, Accountability
Our article Friday evening predicted some reform positions Andrew Cuomo was likely to take when he announced his candidacy for governor.
We were pleased and surprised Sunday to read of his support for the entire reform agenda, and his intention to ask candidates for the legislature to commit themselves to his proposals. It is more productive to seek promises from candidates than from incumbents.
The idea of starting a campaign with a 224-page book of proposals is both novel and striking. It lays out an agenda for action in many areas which is unprecedented. It dwarfs the research efforts of other candidates. It shows that his people are familiar with, and have proposals to deal with, long-standing issues.
To those of us who follow state politics, the news appears too good to be true. But only time will tell how much impact a strong governor will have on the dysfunctional legislature. Our high hopes four years ago at the inauguration of Eliot Spitzer were dashed by the convergence of Spitzer's arrogance, intransigence and vulgarity.
David Paterson was overwhelmed both by his own errors and indecision, and by defenders of the status quo who did not share his goals. Cuomo, if he is elected, will be the third governor in a row to attempt to govern in fact as well as under the law. The first two sadly failed.
We will watch and wait. The hopes of civic organizations, reformers and good government groups ride with candidate Cuomo and his promises. Some of his proposals can be implemented directly by the governor. Others require legislative approval. We believe that Cuomo means what he says. We hope that he has the strength and courage to carry out the reform program he is supporting.
There is substance as well in his plans; no new taxes, a freeze on state employees' salaries, fiscal responsibility, consolidation of agencies and downsizing of government. One practice that should end is the imposition of unfunded legislative mandates on cities and counties. Another is the adoption of pension sweeteners by the legislature after unions have bargained collectively and reached agreements with local governments.
New York State was once a leader in government. Laws first passed here were adopted in other states. We were a national model. In the last decade, however, state government has fallen into disrepute. The culture in Albany today is one of favoritism and greed. The legislature has been accurately described as the most dysfunctional in the United States. The Senate is a house of anarchy and the Assembly a house of tyranny, although its members voluntarily submit.
2010 offers an opportunity for change. We cannot wait until January 2011 for "Day One. Everything Changes." We must think of Day One as May 22, the day the Cuomo crusade was launched.? We will get a sense how much he can accomplish even before the election.
The first major decision will be the choice of a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. We do not believe a background in politics should be a prerequisite for this position. Neither should it be a disqualification. The choice should not be made primarily on the basis of gender, ethnicity or geography, although those factors should not be ignored. One factor which was not apparently considered in 2006 was the ability of the candidate to govern, in the event his/her services in that role should be required.
In the recent past, governors have not had much luck in filing this position on the ballot. One lieutenant governor, Al DelBello resigned in the middle of his term because he felt he had nothing to do.? Two others, Mary Anne Krupsak and Betsy McCaughey (Ross) became alienated from their governors and ran against them.? Both women lost.
For this year, Cuomo may be seeking a different kind of nominee.? If he does so, it would be wise.
Ken Lovett of the Daily News reported Sunday: "A source close to Cuomo seemed to send [a] signal last week when he [said], 'This will not be a political pick.? It's about whether this person has competence and integrity and whether he or she is ready to be governor if something should happen.'"
If Lovett's source is correct, that would be good news.? It would also set a precedent in the selection of a lieutenant governor.? By the time you read this, the choice will be made and may have become public.? It will be the first test of Andrew Cuomo's judgment and the qualities he values.?? All New Yorkers should join us in hoping for the best.
THE UPRISING CONTINUES
On a parallel track of seeking pledges of support, Sam Roberts reported in today's Times on the activities of New York Uprising: GROUP FOR IMPROVING ALBANY SENDS PLEDGES TO CANDIDATES.? His lede: ?
"A civic coalition seeking to improve how Albany governs is asking incumbents and candidates for state office this year to pledge publicly to back strict fiscal controls on state spending, stronger ethics and financial disclosure regulations, and a nonpartisan system for drawing legislative and Congressional districts.
"The coalition, called New York Uprising, will not formally endorse candidates, but will publicly recognize those who signed with 'a sign of approval'?
"Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, who was instrumental in creating the coalition, said he believed those who signed would honor their commitment. If they renege, Mr. Koch said, 'we will be hounding them.'"
StarQuest #672 05.24.2010 897wds