Monday, April 09, 2007

The First 100 Days

Tuesday, April 10, marks the first 100 days of the Spitzer administration, so a report card is in order. Needless to say, the Gov’s assessment that he had scored a mark of 100 in his first 100 days is not supported by newspaper columnists or those of us at, but maybe we can give the guy a break: he did supposedly score a 1600 on his SATs.

Overall, our take on the new guv: not as bad as we thought, but definitely not as good as he promised.

  • Budget: The gov proposed a budget that raised spending. His supporters can claim that he got “rolled” by legislative leaders, but the gov’s proposal increased spending, hardly trimmed the size of state government and did little to improve the general business climate in the state, with the exception of important reforms in worker’s compensation. Was there any real relief for counties in the gov’s first budget? Nope. Which means the state tradition of passing costs down to county taxpayers will continue. So much more was promised, and so little delivered. Grade: C
  • Patronage: Spitzer has placed a priority of hiring for professional qualifications, not political connections. So far, he’s walked it like he’s talked it. Rensselaer County Democrats are fuming behind the scenes that they can’t people “placed” in the state. Mind you, many of those people have baggage or a lack of skills. The handful of RenssCo Dems who have been hired have solid backgrounds and good reputations. So the fact that the Dem hacks throughout the county are screaming, is probably a good thing. Grade: B+
  • Local Presence: The gov said he would be spending a lot of time in Albany. But he’s a New York City guy, and often down in the Big Apple rather than in the Mansion on Eagle Street. He didn’t make the Martin Luther King observance after he got stuck in a snowstorm in NYC and there are no reports or sightings of the state’s top exec during the off-hours. So, it’s not like the gov has been the life of the party here in the Capital District, even though he said he would spending more time locally. Thankfully, he did make his classic “I’m a %#*@ steamroller!” comment to one of our own, Assembly Minority Leader Jimmy Tedisco. Grade: C
  • Public Safety: Spitzer did sign into law a much-need civil confinement law to keep sex offenders away from kids and housed in secure facilities. But the real credit for this goes to the Senate and Assembly Republicans, who kept this issue alive during the past several years against fierce opposition from Assembly Democrats. Rural New Yorkers are holding their breath on Spitzer’s choice for Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis, who has a record of opposing hunting and gun ownership. Grade: B
  • Reform: We were told “Day One Everything Changes”. Not exactly. Not even really close. Not even really a whiff. The budget was still three men in a room, state government wasn’t brought closer to the people or opened significantly, individual legislators still had almost no role in Albany, important decisions are made with little involvement or notice to the press or public. He started off by calling out Assembly Democrats for their vote for Tim DiNapoli for comptroller, over his strong objections, but quickly backed off, maybe because he was asked to. His guys were outmatched in their battle against SEIU, and his TV ad guy, Jimmy Siegel, should realize cute only goes so far in NY politics. The decision to go hard against Senate Republicans in the 7th Senate District may have gotten him another Democrat State Senator, but probably cost him some key allies. And for a guy who is so intent on shaking things up, he already his a committee and website, Spitzer 2010. So far, his promises just don’t match the performance. Not even close. Grade: D
  • Independence: In 2006, when Spitzer was facing a primary from Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Hillary Clinton’s people withheld an endorsement in the race. Fast forward to 2007, and Spitzer gave as good as he got, or didn’t get, by holding off on an endorsement for Clinton in the presidential race, despite, what we have been told, were a barrage of calls and demands from Clintonistas to Spitzer folk. Following his loss in the selection of comptroller, where Shelly really rolled the gov, Spitzer went on a barnstorming tour of the state, touching down here and there to bash members of his own party in the Assembly to criticize their vote and failure to back reform. But he quickly changed his tune, especially once the budget talks started in earnest. And Capital Region Assembly members, including Mr. Independent, Tim Gordon, who had wrapped themselves around Spitzer’s leg during the 2006 campaigns, weren’t blasted for their vote against the gov on the comptroller issue. Spitzer did go toe to toe with 1199 SEIU, during the budget dance, and seemed friendlier than could be expected with some in the Assembly Republican conference. Grade: C+