On Day 366 in Albany, apparently everything changes—again. Echoing the insightful sentiments of my colleague Bethany, the governor’s annual message was disappointingly devoid of his vision of sweeping reform from only a year ago.
“Our first objective is to reform our government – not merely for the sake of reform, but because if our state is to prosper again, we need a government that is a catalyst for change instead of an impediment,” Governor Spitzer said in his inaugural State of the State Message.
Take just one example on an obvious reform issue, New York’s (lack of) compliance with the Help America Vote Act, which is the worst in the nation. As I write, a federal judge in Albany is deciding when the state will move from lever-operated voting machines to a technology from, well, this century that will allow for audits of the results. The Executive Chamber has been noticeably silent on the timetable for the switch. Even though Governor Spitzer maintains a debit balance in his account of political capital, one would think that replacing outdated voting technology wouldn’t ruffle partisan feathers.
It is worth noting, however, that our energetic governor's silence on a given issue doesn’t necessarily mean inaction. Last year, Governor Spitzer failed to mention support for historic same-sex marriage legislation during his January address. Only three months later he introduced such a bill, apparently becoming the first governor in the nation to do so.
I, for one, still have hope for Day One anew.