Newly anointed State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli may be a "nice guy" who finished first, but the State Legislature's dealings to put him in place makes our head spin. The Legislature, and more importantly the Assembly, had agreed to select someone an outside panel would find qualified. The thing is, no one on the shortlist was an Assembly member, so the Democratic-run Assembly which calls the shots in Comptroller selection, decided to pick Assemblyman DiNapoli of Nassau County. Check out these editorials from the region:
NY Times "A Member of the Club": "The choice is a setback for a legislature that is already considered one of the worst in the nation — and a further sign that its members are not listening to the public’s demands for reform."
NY Post "Their Worthless Word": "Now all New Yorkers know what As sembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's word is worth: Nothing."
Newsday "Good choice, bad process": "Public cynicism about Albany would have been better blunted if Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and the Democratic majority had stuck with their agreement to choose a state comptroller from a list vetted by a panel of former fiscal watchdogs."
NY Daily News "Stunning lack of integrity": "Nothing good will come of this for the leaders - particularly for Silver, who directed a charade screening process - and the worst awaits DiNapoli. He is now the poster boy for Albany dysfunction and bears the stigma of being a third-stringer who doesn't belong in the job."
Times Union "The Legislature's gall": "Take that, New Yorkers. It's what the state Legislature -- and, most insidiously, the dominant bloc known as the Assembly Democrats -- thinks is best that matters. It's what they want, mainly political reward and advancement for themselves, that comes before the public interest."
Yeah, it's pretty depressing. Steamroller Spitzer is very angry, saying the Legislature's action marked a "turning point" in his 38 day relationship with them, "You have just witnessed the insider game of self-dealing that unfortunately confirms every New Yorker's worst fear and image of all that goes on in the Legislature of this state." Spitzer also questioned DiNapoli's lack of investment experience, given the Comptroller's oversight of the State's $140 billion dollar pension system. From the NY Times:
Mr. Spitzer said that in recent days he had been asking lawmakers this question: “If Candidate X — take Tom — were approaching you and saying, ‘You know what? I’ve never done this before. Never invested a penny. Never made an asset allocation decision. Don’t know a swap from a derivative. But I’m setting up a money management firm tomorrow. I want your pension money to be my first investment. Will you give me your pension to start with?’
“Nobody said they would,” he said. “Nobody. That, to me, is dispositive. They wouldn’t do it with their money. But they’ll do it with the public’s money.”
For his part, DiNapoli said, "I don't intend to be anybody's lap dog. I'm going to be a watchdog." Yes, we hope DiNapoli will be a good comptroller, but if this is the face of NY State government, we're so screwed. Heck, it's almost like having Pataki as governor!
Photograph of new Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at the State Assembly by Tim Roske/AP