Monday, December 24, 2007

Gov. Spitzer's Hammer And Sprawlsickle

Judith Enck

Can someone please tell me what "sprawl" means? I've read about it. I've heard about it. And I still have no idea what it is.

Governor Spitzer apparently understands "sprawl." He's created a "Smart Growth Fund" to deal with the "problem." The staffer in charge of the Fund is Judith Enck. Ms. Enck offers her "solutions" for addressing the scourge of "sprawl" in today's Times Union:

"Step one is to focus on state spending, to make sure it does not contribute to sprawl problems. We want to help drive development where we have existing infrastructure. Then we look at how we can assist local governments . . . Our goal is to come up with programs to avoid sprawl without growth, which is what we have now throughout upstate."

Avoid sprawl without growth? What the hell does that mean? I need an Enck-to-English dictionary whenever she starts talking. And who is Ms. Enck to declare "we want to drive development where we have existing infrastructure." The market drives development, not state bureaucrats in the Spitzer administration.

For the uninitiated, Ms. Enck is one of New York's leading anti-business, carbon-counting green kooks. And that's a mild description. Ms. Enck is so militant on environmental issues that she once attacked my former boss, Governor George Pataki, as "out of the mainstream." Even The New York Times editorial page was forced to concede: "Most politicians are fortunate if they’re remembered for one good thing. In the case of Gov. George Pataki, that will almost surely be his work for the environment."

I have a good idea how Judith Enck defines sprawl. Sprawl is whatever Judith Enck says it is. Sprawl is a strip mall that Judith Enck doesn't like because it's not an architectural masterpiece. Sprawl is a private development that dries up a big puddle Judith Enck believes is a wetland. Sprawl is a small business owner who decides to expand by clearing trees that Judith Enck wants to stare at all day long. Sprawl is any job created in New York that doesn't comport with Judith Enck's Marxist flow chart for how jobs should be created.

Last week the Federal Reserve reported upstate New York lost 85,000 jobs between 2000 and 2006. With Governor Spitzer employing anti-capitalist environmental extremists like Judith Enck in a senior capacity New York will continue to lose tens of thousands of jobs.

R. Milhouse Spitzer, Judith Enck and Peter Pope

“Many, many, many of us are sick of being bashed in speeches and then called up for money.”

That's what an anonymous Albany-based lobbyist told the Times today. Regarding Governor Spitzer's long planned December 3 fund-raiser that netted $1.5 million another lobbyist said, “I may have gotten six different e-mails on that fund-raiser. We’re all being solicited to bundle contributions.”

The Times further reports:

"Some of Mr. Spitzer’s aides and appointees continue to keep lobbyists at arm’s length. Mr. Spitzer’s deputy secretary for the environment, Judith Enck, for example, does not allow a lobbyist to meet with her for more than 15 minutes, and she does not do meals. 'If you can’t make your case in 15 minutes, you’re not a particularly effective spokesperson for your cause,' Ms. Enck said."

Ms. Enck should know. She was a long-time left-wing Albany lobbyist, which the Times curiously did not report.

Judith Enck is the personification of the Spitzer administration. It's an ethical badge of honor for her to refuse to meet with lobbyists for more than 15 minutes or dine with them. So what. Does that somehow make her morally superior?

Governor Spitzer and his senior staff remain incapable of communicating with New Yorkers without an overwrought self-righteousness. And they're also completely oblivious to the hypocrisy they've created.

Perhaps the most hilariously funny - and hypocritical - example of this troubling personal demeanor at work in Governor Spitzer's second floor Capitol offices is Peter Pope. Today's Times reports:

"Several people also said that Peter Pope, the governor’s policy director, was widely considered to be hostile to lobbyists, especially when their clients disagreed with Mr. Spitzer’s priorities."

Mr. Pope, as I previously noted, is represented by Susan Necheles in the ongoing Dirty Tricks scandal. Ms. Necheles was once counsel to Venero Mangano, a Genovese crime family member also known as "Benny Eggs" who served 15 years in prison for extortion.

Obviously, if you're an Albany lobbyist be sure to avoid Mr. Pope. But if you're in the market for an underboss or need a tutorial for the proper way to sleep on a mattress in a vacant apartment in your suit, Mr. Pope may be a resource.

No matter how much dirtier the Dirty Tricks scandal becomes, there will be stories about the holier-than-thou comportment of Governor Spitzer and his aides. In the meantime, I'll take lunch for longer than 15 minutes with any lobbyist in Albany every time over lunch with Ms. Enck, Mr. Pope and Mr. Pope's mob attorney.

Eliot Sulzer?

William Sulzer, New York Governor, January-October, 1913.

Fred Dicker of the New York Post reports exclusively today that "computers in Gov. Spitzer's office were intentionally 'purged and scrubbed' of potentially crucial records involving the Dirty Tricks Scandal - while others have simply disappeared, investigators have been told."

This Spitzer scandal is growing and the facts that have not been reported will be even more damning than the facts we know today. The only New York governor impeached and removed from office is William Sulzer. Mr. Sulzer may have company. Soon.