Cuomo: Spitzer 2.0?

While recently reading an op-ed piece in Crain's New York, I was reminded of the well-known phrase attributed to poet-philosopher George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” New York voters would do well to remember this when they head to the polls in November to vote for their next Governor.

NY Democrats breathed a collective sigh of relief that Gov. David Paterson's abandoned his campaign, clearing the way for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run for chief executive in Albany with the collective weight of the Democratic Machine behind him – all without taking any position whatsoever on any of the colossal issues facing the State now and in the near future.

Sound familiar at all? It should. The present state of affairs strikingly resembles Eliot Spitzer’s march to Albany. Can you say disaster? I can.

Long before Ashley Dupre, “Client #9” and all the other sordid details surrounding the man presently more famous for leaving his socks on in bed than any Governor in state history, Eliot Spitzer was well on his way to becoming one of the most ineffective leaders in recent memory. The “f@#&-in’ steamroller” rode the wave of large margin victories backed by huge campaign money based on a reform platform that consisted of… well… not much substance.

You remember, don’t you? How from day one in office, the business of Albany would change! Spitzer proposed, among other reforms, reductions in health care – a sacred cow to Albany special interests. Said special interests went on the warpath and abandoned him and any legislator who was with him.

In short, despite a landslide, Spitzer never let us in on his grand plan. The result? No cut in health care spending, and Spitzer was "f@#&-in' steamrolled". Truly, a textbook case of how to squander political capital.

Now let’s turn to Mario’s baby boy. Does anyone really know where he stands on anything? Sure, he wants reform – so do I. So does everyone else. And like Spitzer, he can bring all the usual platitudes in a speech.

But what’s the plan, Andrew? How do we get out from under this mountain of debt? Where does he see opportunity for economic development? What will happen to our taxes? The silence should be alarming, if not deafening.

Until now, Cuomo has gone out of his way to be the un-candidate. Republicans and Democrats-turned-Republicans and anyone else jumping out of the woodwork to gain the party nod to run for Governor would be well served to be clear and specific in their platforms to contrast the large echoing sound heard from Albany is coming from the gaping void in leadership located inside the Governor’s Mansion.

44th Council Endorsement: Why I Abstained

This might become an annual kind of posting - explaining why I voted a certain way in a given endorsement!

So, it looks like I ruffled a few feathers with my vote on who to endorse in the 44th Council Special Election.

Let’s recap briefly. For those who don’t know, there is a special City Council election to fill the 44th District seat held by Simcha Felder. There are two Republicans running – Jonathan Judge and Ken Rice. On Wednesday, the Executive Committee met to determine who to endorse in this non-partisan Special Election. End of brief recap.

Before the meeting, the Law Committee members in attendance met with the Chairman to discuss procedures, voting and rules. The Law Committee recommendation was (1) that the Rules of the KCRP did not apply to non-partisan special elections and (2) therefore, a simple majority of the Executive Committee meeting called for such an endorsement would be sufficient. At the meeting, the Law Committee report was adopted and enacted.

When the vote came down, there were 33 votes for Rice, 3 for Judge and 3 abstentions. I was one of those who abstained.

“Why?” you ask? Glad to tell you.

My thought process was this - as one of the members who set up the ground rules for the vote itself before the meeting was convened, I felt that by voting for either candidate, I would put the integrity of the vote into question. Had I voted my preference, the losing camp would have been able to argue that I helped set up an uneven playing field, and a debate over whether the vote was tainted would go on and on beyond the meeting - much as it did after County Committee this past year when the losing camp argued that a computer “glitch” in tabulation was a sign of impropriety.

So, as my way to protect the integrity of the endorsement, I stayed out of the substantive vote.

I’ve since heard that some people - even some I consider friends - may have a problem with the way I voted. To all, I say two things:

First: Say it to my face.

Second: If you don’t like it – tough.

I take my position on the Law Committee seriously, and my vote took more than who I like into consideration – it took the integrity of what we were trying to do into consideration.

Now, to those same people – and everyone else for that matter - if you ask me who I would’ve voted for had I not taken part in creating the voting structure, I would have said that based on both candidates presentations, I would’ve voted for Ken Rice.

I thought he handled matters coolly, professionally, and his genuine personality shone through. Polish will come with time and experience, but I thought that he has what it takes.

Jonathan Judge was much the opposite – and, as frequent readers know, I’m not a Jonathan Judge basher. At times during the meeting, Jonathan was condescending to adversaries to the point of confrontation, which didn’t sit well with me. In my opinion, part of the makeup of a good City Councilman is to be even-handed, calm, cool, and collected – even in the face of challenge, adversity and bad feeling. On that night, Jonathan appeared to be none of those.

A second reason – how often has the Republican Party been accused of backing the “same old” crew of people? Ken Rice is brand new – a fresh face who reached out to the party (and to his Republican opponent) and expressed desire to get involved and to run. That says a lot about Ken Rice, and our support sends a message that the day of the “same old” crew is over, and that we are embracing a “big tent” mentality in the spirit of growing the party.

If anyone wants to know more, all you have to do is ask. I look forward to comments.