September Musings

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

So much to get to, so little space.

And because I have the freedom of this digital page – I’ll go ahead and let the random thoughts flow for a bit.

Let’s start with: And Then There Was One… I Mean Two

Eliot Spitzer has now officially taken care of Tom Suozzi on the Democratic side.

Suozzi actually managed to capture 19 percent of the Democratic votes cast last Tuesday. But while Suozzi tried to create a little heat in the race, Spitzer barely raised a sweat.

Now it’s on to John Faso. And the pollsters say that the former Time Magazine cover-boy, Spitzer, holds a commanding lead in this race too. There remains this palpable feeling that Spitzer will easily take his place as George Pataki’s successor and return the governor’s mansion to the Democratic Party.

And yet this little space in cyberspace will not give up. Once again the plea here is not be swayed by horse race polls. It’s nice to know who is ahead. But it winds up being meaningless when it comes to your duty as a voter.

The real application remains what the two men – Faso and Spitzer – have to say on the issues and what you think of those words. And there are differences.

Let me take just one example. Our New York Matters forums have begun (we held one in Buffalo and one on Long Island last week). The Buffalo topic was the economy… and I would invite you to take a look at the paper that was done for citizen participants of that forum in advance of their gathering.

The paper states that Faso and Spitzer have a different emphasis when they talk about reviving the Upstate economy. Faso sticks with a list of limits on government that include cutting taxes further, removing state mandates from local governments and doing away with regulations that are thought to harm business. Spitzer sides with goosing the economy by investing in infrastructure, such as replacing the Peace Bridge and making major transportation improvements.

You do have a choice here.

So when it feels like a coronation is ahead, don’t buy in. Go ahead and continue the process of looking at the two men seeking to be governor. Look at what they stand for. What have you got to lose – except maybe the idea that this election doesn’t really matter.

Deadline a Dead Issue

So Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks has gotten the deadline to submit her budget proposal extended to mid-November, after Election Day.

Supporters of this move promise so many things: That the county budget drafters will have more time to assess what they’ve received from Albany and, therefore can make better decisions and that the extra time will give the budget document more integrity.

But, of course, my most “favorite” reason is that it will keep the budget process unsullied by politics because it will occur after Election Day. Ah, yes … now the county executive and the county legislators – those people who owe their very positions to the electorate – can now be unshackled and create a budget that will be unspoiled by the push and pull of campaigns.

This is made to sound like a virtue. When in reality it’s kind of a shame.

A deadline is only that – a period in time when something must get done. Moving the date four weeks later really does little for fact gathering and long-range planning that is needed for an annual budget document.

But having that budget proposal submitted by the county executive just before the voters go to the polls can also be seen as a bit of truth in advertising. We can really see what the incumbent wants to do. We can have real debate for a few weeks between the incumbent and the challenger over whether this very real document is worthwhile.

Tell me, what’s wrong with that? Except, of course, that it might make the incumbent in the County Executive’s office and those on the County Legislature uncomfortable.

This move to remove politics from the budget process is, really, just politics.

What a Difference Four Years Makes

Finally we go back to the primary elections for a look at the guy who stood next to the victorious Democrat for governor, Eliot Spitzer, soon after their dual victories. Andrew Cuomo soaked in the winning feeling along with Spitzer as the son of Mario goes gunning to replace Spitzer as Attorney General.

Four years earlier, Cuomo was a blip on the primary map. He was still on the Democratic ballot – running for governor – but had dropped out of the race against Carl McCall just a few weeks earlier. when the primary had begun, Cuomo had been criticized for challenging McCall, the man viewed as next in line for the Democratic nod.

And he made a few missteps on the campaign trail. He was criticized for saying that George Pataki’s did little more after 9-11 than hold Rudy Giuliani’s coat. Cuomo also went to that 2002 State Democratic Convention in New York City, but decided not to go into the hall for the delegates vote. He, instead held a rally at a Manhattan restaurant – trying to show himself as an outsider.

In 2006, Cuomo appeared to have done enough to become the insider candidate. He gained valuable party support and took the designation at this year’s Democratic Convention. After his primary win, he appears to have the early lead in polls over Republican Jeanine Pirro. That (and Spitzer’s coattails) could help him get by in November, although the Pirro challenge is a real one.

Yet one had to wonder if Cuomo, as he stood next to Spitzer after Primary Day, might have hoped Eliot’s star would quickly rise to national levels. That would leave the door open for him to take another crack at the governor’s mansion… and help him erase 2002.