Friday, January 05, 2007

Well stated

In the days following the amateur drunkfest some call New Year’s eve, it appeared as though many members of the Legislature still hadn’t sobered up. Either that or they’re assured Eliot Spitzer doesn’t have the power to enforce even a tenth of the reforms he espoused during his inauguration and state of the state address.

Spitzer kicked off 2007 by kicking outgoing Governor Pataki square in the junk. With the stern tone and powerful language he directed toward an electric and eclectic crowd of thousands, the Capitol’s new regulator did everything short of calling the Legislature under Pataki the text book definition of corrupt.

And in one short speech, he managed to ruffle quite a few feathers.

With a face full of digital recorders, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno tucked his chin into the shoulder of his blazer and spoke in a meek voice that could only described as uncharacteristic for someone of his candor. But the message was clear: Hollywood’s pissed.

“I think history will judge the last 12 years,” he growled Monday, as an attractive young blonde whisked him into the Capitol building.

On the other side of the isle, things don’t look much brighter for Spitzer. Shelly Silver, who even democrats have come to dislike, tested the new governor even before he got sworn in. As has been well reported, Silver is hell-bent on having one of his chums appointed to the besmirched comptroller’s seat.

Of course, this goes against the whole Sptizer mantra, as laid out during his campaign, during his inaugural speech and in his State of the State address. See, the sheriff wants to pull down the ladder of political patronage and start filling the system with the right people for the right positions. That’s not going to bode well for all Shelly’s boot-kissers, who feel they’ve towed the line long enough to get a hand up.

Even among the glitz and glory of the inauguration celebration, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, himself a former assemblyman, tempered his hope for the future. In a glib knee-jerk statement, he alluded to the dark cumulus nimbus clouds forming on the horizon.

“There’s trouble brewing,” he quipped.

Then in the State of the State address, the new governor told the legislators themselves it’s time to buck up, clean up and move forward with the tough reforms; stop the bickering, snickering and dickering to unite New York under the banner of progress.

Then they applauded --albeit nervously and with hesitation. Even Spitzer himself had give a bit of coax to the masses, at times giving a quick “com'on guys” to incite clapping at some of the less opportune times.

In the end, what does it all amount to? Not much more than a hill of beans, which is fine if you’re rolling a burrito, but not so good if you’re a politician who’s awoken the hopes of millions. Columnists across the state have offered guarded skepticism of Spitzer’s lofty goals, almost mimicking the response he’s received thus far from the politicians. Both know there’s a rough road ahead that won’t involve a parade of “people’s celebrations” so to speak.

Hopefully, Spitzer stands by the gumption that has swept him into some sweet digs on Eagle Street. Hopefully, the other two men in the room will realize the gravy train has left for Peekskill, meaning it’s time to turn over a new leaf. And hopefully, New Yorkers themselves will take with them to the voting booths and operant knowledge of any senator or assemblyman that tries to redirect the wind of change in Albany.


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