February 7th, 2007
The weeks of maneuvering and plotting have ended. The State Legislature has appointed Assemblymember Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat from Nassau County as comptroller. In doing so, they defied Governor Eliot Spitzer and ignored the recommendations of the panel of three former comptrollers charged with screening candidates for the post. DiNapoli was not on their list of finalists.
The vote was not unanimous. DiNapoli got the support of Assembly Democrats and most State Senate Republicans. But, according to Capitol Confidential, Senate Democrats and many Assembly Republicans cast their votes for New York City finance commissioner Martha Stark, who was approved by the screening panel. Many of those voting for Stark, an African-American and the only woman seriously considered for the post, reportedly “went out of their way to praise DiNapoli and say that their votes weren’t so much against him as they were in support of ‘reform’ and ‘the process’ championed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.”
Senator Majority Member Joseph Bruno indicated DiNapoli could probably do the job despite a lack of investment experience. “You don’t have to be an expert on the markets,” he said. “You need to be a good manager.” And, according to The Politicker, Republican Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio was even more direct: “You don’t have to be an Einstein.”
The post mortems have already begun. “Today is a sad day for New York,’’ upstate Republican Assemblymember Greg Ball said, reminding his colleagues that “this is the most dysfunctional legislature in the United State of America.’’ Earlier today (see previous posting), one of the three members of the screening panel, Carl McCall, said the Assembly’s defiance of Spitzer would not be a defeat for the governor “because public opinion is clearly on his side.”
In a column written before the actual vote, Henry Stern, who said he likes DiNapoli, sees him facing an impossible task. “He must demonstrate independence of the governor and the legislature to be taken seriously as a public figure. But if he were too independent, he would never be considered for the position he is seeking,” Stern writes. He goes on to fault the chain of events, beginning with the resignation of State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, that led to DiNapoli’s selection writing, “The will of the people as expressed in elections should generally be respected, rather than set aside by one district attorney’s decision to prosecute, and one official’s inability or unwillingness to defend himself.”
And the leader of the Republicans in the Assembly James Tedisco, criticized the selection process as “flawed” and called for a constitutional amendment to let voters – not legislators –fill vacancies in statewide offices.By Gail Robinson on February 7, 2007, 4:42 pm
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