Gov. Paterson Could End Albany Deadlock By Appointing Lt. Governor


paterson915A Queens Assemblyman says he’s found a magic bullet to end the five-week-old Senate stalemate. Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gianaris and two good government groups said Monday Gov. Paterson can appoint a lieutenant governor under an obscure provision of the state’s Public Officers Law. That would give the Senate a new presiding officer to break the 31-31 tie that has paralyzed the June 8 GOP-led coup. “There is no reason why the governor cannot take this interpretation, fill this vacancy and end this train wreck that has appalled the entire state,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY.Gianaris, Lerner and Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, sent the Democratic governor a letter Sunday urging him to exercise this power.

The move would likely give the Democrats an edge in the dispute since Paterson would probably appoint a Democrat to the post.

Republicans promptly rejected that notion, saying Gianaris and the groups are misreading the state Constitution.

Sen. George Winner (R-Elmira) dismissed Gianaris’ suggestion as “preposterous.”

“It would just be a mess,” Winner said, predicting a court fight. “It would make things worse. This is not a positive suggestion.”

Winner noted that several times the state has been without a lieutenant governor, and not once has the governor sought to appoint one.

“I just think he’s very much mistaken,” Winner said.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said: “Any idea that will help end the gridlock and get the Senate back to passing critical legislation deserves serious attention and consideration.”

Ordinarily, the lieutenant governor would cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, but the state has been without one since Paterson was elevated to governor in March of 2008, replacing the disgraced Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

While the state constitution says that the senate president assumes the duties of the lieutenant governor, Gianaris and the two advocacy groups, said Section 43 of the state’s Public Officers Law states that the governor “shall appoint” a person to fill any vacant elected office when there is no other process spelled out in state law for filling such vacancies.

“It is, by its very nature, a catch-all provision,” Gianaris said.

Gianaris said the governor has been aware of the possibility since an opinion piece addressing the issue appeared on June 26 in the Daily News.

Paterson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gianaris said the appointment of a new lieutenant governor would resolve the question of of who should become governor if something happened to Paterson. It also would give the Senate a clear leader who could run special sessions called by the governor.

The Brennan Center for Justice, which has called the state’s Legislature the most
dysfunctional in the nation, applauded Gianaris’ argument.

“This proposal seems to provide a viable roadmap for ending the current gridlock in Albany,” says Lawrence Norden, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“The law suggests that the governor may have the ability to facilitate the passage of necessary legislation while staying well within the powers of the executive branch.”

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}


  1. Hashem has Rachmones on us!!

    Instead of letting the To’eiva Bill pass with all the conseqences to come, He Better Gridlocks the senate…

    Doing Nothing is sometimes much better then doing damage.

    Hope this Bill gets off the table RIGHT AWAY!!