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Government Affairs Albany Update

January 5, 2007

Four New Appointments from Governor Spitzer

Governor Spitzer announced four additional appointments this week:

Assemblyman Canestrari Tapped to be New Assembly Majority Leader

Assemblyman Ron Canestrari of the Capital District has been tapped by Speaker Silver to be the new Assembly Majority Leader. Speaker Silver called the Assemblyman a "proven leader and a remarkable legislator". The job became available due to the retirement of Assemblyman Paul Tokasz. Assemblyman Canestrari was most recently the Chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Labor Commissioner Nominated

M. Patricia Smith has been nominated to serve as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor. Ms. Smith is the Assistant Attorney General in-charge of the Attorney General's Labor Bureau, a position she has held since 1999. She served at the Labor Bureau for 12 years, first as Prevailing Wage Section Chief and then as Deputy Bureau Chief. From 1979 to 1987, Ms. Smith served as a Litigation Director at the Legal Services Organization in Indiana. From 1977 to 1979, she was a Staff Attorney for Connecticut Legal Services. She graduated from Trinity College in Washington D.C. in 1974 and the New York University School of Law 1977.

MTA CEO Appointed But No DOT Commissioner Nominee Yet

The key speaker at the November meeting of The Business Council's Transportation Committee, Elliot "Lee" Sander, has been appointed as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Mr. Sander had been Corporate Senior Vice President at DMJM Harris, a leading transportation engineering firm. Sander also served as Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. He was also the founder and co-chairman of the Empire State Transportation Alliance, and has been a Commissioner on the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. He graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a B.S.F.S. in 1977.

New Executive Orders

Governor Spitzer issued five Executive Orders on January 1. They are available on line at:

Executive Order #1 states that officers and Governor-appointed employees of state agencies and public authorities cannot accept gifts of more than nominal value "where the circumstances would permit the inference that (a) the gift was intended to influence the individual in the performance of official business or (b) the gift constituted a tip, reward or sign of appreciation for any official act by the employee." This language is similar to the existing restrictions in Section 73 of the Public Officers Law, without that law's exemption for gifts valued at less than $75.

Executive Order #2 prohibits officers and Governor-appointed employees of state agencies from: making campaign contributions that benefit either the Governor or Lieutenant Governor or making requests regarding such contributions; inquiring about a person's political affiliations or activities in any hiring, promotional, disciplinary or other employment-related actions, or related to any government procurement; prohibiting state officials from appearing in state-financed advertising; and prohibiting these employees from running for federal or state office while still employed by the state.

Executive Order #3 requires every state agency and public authority to identify which of its meetings are subject to the state's open meeting law and to develop a timetable for ensuring that all such meetings are broadcast on the Internet, with a target of Internet broadcasting of all such meetings by July 1, 2007.

Executive Order #4 establishes judicial screening committees to recruit, evaluate and make recommendations regarding candidates for all judicial appointments by the Governor (except the Court of Appeals, for which there is already an evaluation process set forth in the State Constitution). A statewide committee will address appointments to the Court of Claims; each judicial department will have its own screening committee for appointments to the state Supreme Court and the Appellate Division; county-level screening committees will also be established to make recommendations for Couty Court, Surrogate's Court and Family Court. The Executive Order commits the Governor to appointing candidates rated as “highly qualified” by these screening committees.

Executive Order #5 carries forward about seventy-four Executive Orders issued by former Governor's Cuomo and Pataki, and rescinds all other prior Executive Orders. Among Governor Pataki's orders that will remain in force are those: establishing and empowering a Director of Regulatory Reform (EO #20), Director of Consumer Protection (EO # 45), and a state “Chief Information Officer (EO # 117); and one imposing energy efficiency and renewable power purchase requirements on state agencies (EO #111).