Politcal Action: Lancman speaks out on Albany power shift

By William Lewis

“Spitzer was going to be the 'Great Reformer.' The fact that he was undone by an ethical scandal is particularly disappointing,” Lancman said. “His demise has caused a lot of people to lose faith that reform is possible at all.” As for former Lt. Gov. David Paterson becoming governor, Lancman seemed quite optimistic. He pointed out that Paterson was in the state Senate for 20 years and during that time also served as Democratic Party minority Leader. He believes that Paterson knows how to deal with the legislative branch to achieve compromise and results rather than having the governor dictating policy matters. As for the Spitzer attempt to seize the majority in the GOP-dominated state Senate, Lancman believes Paterson will work to win Democratic control of the legislative body during the state elections. He also indicated Paterson will not distort the process by being the constant “chief campaigner of the state.” He will try to achieve a consensus within the executive and legislative branches of government. Lancman also believes the change in the state chief executive will be beneficial to Queens. He pointed out that Paterson has worked within neighborhoods and understands community needs, unlike Spitzer, who did not serve in the legislative branch of government, and therefore did not have experience in directly dealing with the various neighborhoods as they exist in Queens. Lancman went on to elaborate on this point by mentioning people who became political leaders in high executive positions with little or no direct community service. Among them, besides Eliot Spitzer, were Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. As for the legislative process, Lancman introduced during the present session and got passed into law “The Freedom to Report Terrorism Act,” which protects citizens in New York wtate who in good faith report suspicious potential criminal activity. It safeguards these citizens from being sued by the same individuals whom they report. This act was in response to a lawsuit filed against airline passengers who had reported suspicious activity on the airplane in which they were traveling. They were sued by the very people they reported. This act was sponsored by Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Spitzer. Lancman further indicated he is in favor of local community boards having input and a voice in deciding where and under what circumstances substance abuse treatment facilities are to be located. He believes that Paterson will be more receptive to this kind of legislative initiative than Spitzer was. As to how the recent transition in Albany will affect the 2008 New York elections, both at the state and local areas, Lancman said, “It remains to be seen. It may depend on how well Paterson does as governor.” He pointed out that Paterson is a good public speaker and is sharp- witted with the past experience of having been Senate minority leader and lieutenant governor for more than a year. Lancman believes Paterson is well prepared to be governor. He is not sure that Spitzer with eight years as attorney general was equally prepared for the role of governor. “We are on the threshold of achieving great things during the next few years,” the assemblyman said. “The question is will we execute those achievements.” On the Democratic Party presidential selection process, Rory Lancman is supporting U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. However, he is not a regular or super delegate to the convention. As far as the current situation involving Michigan and Florida delegates is concerned, he contends these delegates should be awarded based on results of a future primary, not on the results of the January primary. He indicated that both major candidates, Clinton and Obama, should have an equal opportunity to compete for these important delegates. Turning to a bill sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn that calls for electronic monitoring of anyone against whom an order of protection is issued, Lancman said this legislation is a good idea and he will look into the matter. This bill was initiated by Dolores Maddis of Rego Park whose niece was killed by a man whom she had an order of protection issued against. Now that the Spitzer era is over, hopefully an atmosphere of cooperation will emerge between the two major political parties in Albany so that the people's business will receive priority.

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