December 31, 2007

How To Succeed In New York Politics

How does one get ahead in New York state politics? Locating the skeletons -- and then taking an expensive vacation to keep them buried. That's apparently how Herbert Teitelbaum scored a $15,000 raise after starting an investigation of Governor Eliot Spitzer (via Jazz Shaw at Middle Earth Journal):

THE man supposedly leading a key state probe of Gov. Spitzer and the Dirty Tricks Scandal has abruptly taken a 21/2-week vacation in South America - after secretly receiving a $15,000 pay raise, The Post has learned.

Recently hired Public Integrity Commission Executive Director Herbert Teitelbaum's extended vacation in Argentina has left stunned commission employees questioning his commitment to a probe aimed at determining if Spitzer and his aides broke the law by using the State Police in an effort to politically damage Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer.) ...

Teitelbaum, a longtime Manhattan lawyer with close ties to Spitzer's aides, was named in mid-July by another Spitzer appointee, commission Chairman John Feerick, as the $140,000-a-year head of the Ethics Commission. ....

Teitelbaum's $15,000 pay raise two weeks ago was approved without public notice by Feerick, a former Fordham Law School dean accused by Bruno aides of seeking to cover up the scandal.

The nearly 11 percent pay hike came at a time when the state faces a massive, $4 billion-plus, projected deficit.

Anyone who believes in coincidences will find their credulity strained in this story. Teitelbaum, who has ties to Spitzer, gets named to head the commission that would seek to police the integrity of the Spitzer administration. When the Ethics Commission merged with the Lobbying Commission into the Public Integrity Commission, Teitelbaum got appointed Executive Director there, too. Less than three months after accepting that position at his starting salary -- and before he had much chance to pursue this investigation -- he suddenly gets an 11% raise in a state running towards a California-style bankruptcy and takes a long South American vacation.

How many questions does this raise?

1. How did Teitelbaum get chosen for this position?
2. Why hasn't Teitelbaum taken testimony from Spitzer yet?
3. How many other state employees have received 11% raises in the first six months of their employment?
4. Why did the Spitzer administration keep the raise secret?

Eliot Spitzer built his career prosecuting corporations and Wall Street figures who conducted themselves with better ethics than this. His first year on the job has exposed Spitzer as a deeply unethical politician who wants to build his power at the expense of New York and while running roughshod over the law. This state of affairs with Teitelbaum strongly suggests a tawdry, scandalous political payoff that might even be worse than the scandal Teitelbaum is supposed to be investigating.

At some point the state legislature needs to look into ejecting Spitzer and his neo-Tammany machine from Albany.


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