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July 08, 2009

NY Governor Tries To End Senate Deadlock, Appoints New Lieutenant Governor, Except He Has No Constitutional Power To Do That

One month ago, NY Republican senators wrested control of the chamber away from Democrats by enticing to defectors to join them. The next day one of the Democrats went back across the aisle leaving the Senate deadlocked. Usually the Lieutenant Governor would break ties but NY doesn't have one because Eliot "Client Number 9" Spitzer resigned making the then Lt. Governor, David Paterson Governor.

There's no provision in the NYS Constitution to fill a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor. So being a Democrat, Paterson just invented one based on the state's Public Officers Law..

Gov. David Paterson has selected veteran businessman and public servant Richard Ravitch to be New York's lieutenant governor, making history and ensuring controversy.

...Senate Democratic leaders Malcolm Smith and John Sampson praised the governor's move in a joint statement. "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary action. ... Today, the constitutional issue of succession to the office of Governor has been settled, removing a major stumbling block to our negotiations," they said.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, in a videotaped response, briefly dismissed the governor's move as unconstitutional -- and didn't even mention Ravitch's name -- before moving on to a broad-based attack on what he described as Democrats' free-spending, high-taxing ways.

The only small problem is pretty much no one, including state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, thinks this is constitutional.

The concept was quickly shot down as "not constitutional" and a "political ploy" by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo - a potential Paterson rival in next year's Democratic primary.

"Contrary to the proponents' goal, we believe it would not provide long-term political stability but rather the opposite by involving the governor in a political ploy that would wind through the courts for many months," Cuomo said.

Cuomo's concerns were echoed by Democratic Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli this morning after a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg.

In NY the AG is elected on his own and is not answerable to the Governor, so we are likely to see the Governor, the "Lieutenant Governor" and part of the state Senate on one side in a court battle against the AG and the rest of the Senate.

Just when it seemed New York couldn't become more of a joke, it has.

Thanks Dave!

NY Trivia: There are 6 statewide offices total between the state (Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General) and federal (two Senators). Right now only 2 are the people who were elected to the positions (AG Cuomo and Senator Schumer), Paterson inherited the office and the other 3 were appointed to fill a vacancy.

Nice, right?

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posted by DrewM. at 07:24 PM

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