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Friday, September 15, 2006

Not so fast

Peter Kalikow, soon to be ex-MTA chairman

Pataki Appointments Leave a Lasting Stamp

Published: September 15, 2006

In his final months in office, Gov. George E. Pataki has appointed or reappointed hundreds of officials to state boards, commissions and authorities, assuring his imprint on state government for years after his term expires on Dec. 31.

The appointments include Peter S. Kalikow, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to a new six-year term and overseers of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, who could play a role in the redevelopment of the West Side. Many are Pataki contributors, political allies or their relatives.

Mr. Pataki has submitted dozens more nominees to the Republican-controlled Senate for confirmation today, and Albany Democrats estimate that he could fill at least another 50 vacancies before leaving office. The appointments lock them into policy-making and regulatory roles over a range of matters, including mass transportation and economic development — in some cases until 2013.

Rewarding political supporters with “midnight appointments” to terms fixed by law is a practice that dates back to at least the early 19th century, when President John Adams tried to stack the deck against his successor, Thomas Jefferson.

What distinguishes Mr. Pataki’s going-away appointments, besides the sheer volume, is the fact that this is the first time in decades that a departing governor’s party enjoys a majority in the Senate. That opportunity last presented itself in 1974, although other governors have made midnight appointments that did not require Senate confirmation.

The process first raised alarms earlier this summer when Mr. Pataki tried to make two $90,000-a-year appointments that, to provide the longest possible terms, did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2007. Senate Democrats balked, citing an unofficial opinion from the United States Naval Observatory that midnight — when the governor’s term expires — is actually the last moment of Dec. 31, not the beginning of Jan. 1. Mr. Pataki withdrew those nominations.

“It’s what I call ruling beyond the grave,” said Senator David A. Paterson of Manhattan, the minority leader and now the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor on the ticket with Eliot Spitzer, who hopes to succeed Mr. Pataki. “In wills, trusts and estates law we have pretty much gotten rid of ways people could direct actions of other people in perpetuity. For some reason, in government we haven’t addressed it.”

Didn't Wall Street cook up the plot of running Tom "I have to now run against Peter King" Souzzi to run against Elliot "Landslide" Spitzer?

There is no law against putting Roger Toussaint on the MTA board, is there? Or people from Transportation alternatives or the Straphangers Campaign? Right?

Spitzer isn't as mean as Cuomo, but he plays much harder. Kalikow will be resigning because Spitzer can appoint anyone to represent him, and there are a bunch of Harlem pols, union folks and other people who can make Kalikow's life hell. And will. He doesn't like the antipathy between the MTA and TWU. And he's going to end it. Kalikow can go quietly or not. Same with Gargano. He can walk or be shoved.

Ah, yes. Pataki proposes, Spitzer disposes.

posted by Steve @ 2:00:00 AM

2:00:00 AM

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