Counting on Spitzer
by Anthony Stasi
Dec 15, 2009 | 3441 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Governor Eliot Spitzer is looking at what his chances might be of being elected New York State comptroller, and who can blame him? State government is a blast, and he already has the taste in his mouth from his short stint as governor. The sex scandal and stepping down is really between him and his party – and perhaps later between him and the electorate.

The disturbing aspect of this is that we rarely, if ever, get state comptrollers with extensive financial backgrounds. Current Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is a former state assemblyman. Alan Hevesi was a longtime assemblyman and city official before being elected to state comptroller. (Hevesi was city comptroller, but before that election he was not really a financial expert.)

On the GOP side, Ned Regan, serving almost 15 years in the spot, did not come with a lot of money mileage either. So now we see Spitzer, the lawyer, or rather “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Is being a crime dog really the right make up for a state fiduciary? What if Giuliani was running for comptroller? Would that not look equally as awkward?

The question is this: if this office continues to be an elected post, and not an appointment, does the state get what it needs? And since the state is such financial straits, now might be the right time for a financial expert that is apolitical. None of this is to imply that the comptrollers past and present were not qualified, but this position asks for such unique experience that we have to hope that people from the banking sector will step up.

Governor David Paterson thinks that this would be a good fit for his old ticket mate. As quoted in the New York Post, “The type of way that former Gov.eror Spitzer managed would be most useful these days in the finance area rather than in law enforcement."

You bet the governor thinks he should run for comptroller. Spitzer can easily start the ball rolling on a future run for attorney general, but if Spitzer puts feelers out that he wants to be attorney general, then that sends a message that the former governor thinks that Andrew Cuomo will be elected governor, and that the spot will be open. It’s an invisible endorsement for Cuomo. That is not what Team Paterson wants. So, of course they would rather see Spitzer eyeing the comptroller’s seat.

The weird thing about a Spitzer candidacy is that he just does not seem to fit. He was clearly comfortable as attorney general, but even as governor, Spitzer seemed at times displaced. Right away he insulted out-going Governor George Pataki – who was standing behind him at the time – by saying that the state government was at times asleep in the last two decades.

Spitzer didn’t have time to show his mitts as a tough budget governor. Maybe he was headed in that direction. Unfortunately for Spitzer, the public is already too informed on some of his personal spending habits, but if he can make the case that he can make a significant contribution, then that could be a different ballgame.

No “Friends” For You!

Now that the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has weighed in on judges and lawyers using Facebook, the idea of banning such use comes into perspective in other areas as well. Florida does not want lawyers and judges befriending each other on the social networking site. Understandable, it can blur the lines of professional distance.

This is an understandable step for a state government that does not want lawyers and judges to have pre-existing relationships. But if these rulings continue to other states, it could become too large to manage. Is government going to troll social networking sites in order to act as a gatekeeper?

Being friends – which is really being a contact – on these networking sites is hardly being a real friend. It is all new, and Florida is not overzealous to be concerned, but they may just be taking on an issue that they cannot manage in the end.

It was a little over ten years ago when many people swore off cell phones. Now most people, seniors and young people alike, have them. Facebook is no different. It was generational for a while, but now it is universal and belongs to people across along all lines. Florida is right to be a little concerned, but it is a war that it cannot win even if the battle is worthy.

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