Volume 19 Issue 34 | January 5 - 11, 2007
Priorities for our new governor
“Day one” has come and gone in Albany and now Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s real work changing Albany begins. The new governor has laid out an ambitious agenda that will need deft political skills and public support to enact.
Downtown, admittedly, has been one of the beneficiaries of “three men in a room” government because one of the guys has been and is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The speaker, who represents Lower Manhattan, continues to serve the district and state well but change is needed, including more open government, as well as new lobbying and campaign finance laws.
Unlike the other man still standing, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Silver supports Spitzer, and we hope that continues.
One of the most important and politically-difficult reforms proposed by Spitzer is to set up a non-partisan commission to draw new district lines for the Assembly and Senate. It is more common for Albany legislators to get indicted than lose a reelection bid. New York is one of the bluest states in the country yet the G.O.P. has had a lock on the Senate because of unfair district lines. Non-partisan district panels have been tried in other places and New York should draw from the best examples around the country.
Closer to home, we appreciate Spitzer’s promise to look at Lower Manhattan redevelopment with a set of “fresh eyes,” particularly the Freedom Tower, which is being built with massive public subsidies. We’re also glad Spitzer has pledged to work with Mayor Bloomberg and Silver to ensure redevelopment. We expect Spitzer will discover the most important World Trade Center projects that need to proceed posthaste are the Calatrava train station, the eastern bathtub needed to construct retail sites and commercial buildings for the private sector, and the memorial.
A W.T.C. cultural center has been an afterthought for over five years, and we hope the governor puts the proposed Performing Arts Center on the front burner.
Spitzer has a stellar record of battling insurance firms as New York’s attorney general. He and his team of trusted aides are welcome additions to the fight to make sure the insurance companies pay W.T.C. developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority all that is owed.
Insurers of the former Deutsche Bank building across from the W.T.C. will also owe money for the ballooning costs of taking down the building and the new governor is needed to ensure this reimbursement and make sure this long-delayed project stays on track.
Spitzer has moved to take control of the two most important public authorities, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port. We look forward to hearing the new leaders’ specific views on issues like the proposed rail link to Lower Manhattan and W.T.C. redevelopment. New York is expected to get almost $2 billion in transportation money related to 9/11 and it is essential this money is spent to help Downtown, which bore the economic brunt of the attack on America.
Spitzer is correct in taking a close look at all the authorities he will control, which includes two Downtown the Hudson River Park Trust, which as we have pointed out before, also needs reform, and the Battery Park City Authority, which ran well under Gov. Pataki.
We have liked most of what we have heard from candidate and Governor Spitzer so far. Let Day Two begin.