- No news on the franchise deal, and I don't really expect to hear anything other than the occasional leaks until, as at least I expect, a deal which resembles the contentious MOU awarding NYRA the franchise is announced sometime before the end of the year. Or, alternatively, when everything falls apart.
The Governor is not exactly operating from a position of strength at this time. According to a new poll released by Siena College, Spitzer's poll ratings have taken a stunning fall, with his approval rating plummeting to Bush-like numbers from a post-election high of 75%. You'd think that he started a war for no reason or something. Voters, by a margin of 49 percent to 25 percent would prefer "someone else" as governor if the 2010 election were held today. [Buffalo News]
“New plan, old plan, it just doesn’t matter – New Yorkers continue to overwhelmingly oppose the Governor on his plan to give driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens [by a margin of 70% to 25%],” said Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for the poll. “The governor has America’s homeland security secretary agreeing with him that the state will have one of the most secure licensing systems in the nation, but by a three-to-two margin, New Yorkers don’t buy it.” [NY Times blog]Spitzer is in D.C. today, where he'll meet with New York's congressional delegation, which will likely beg him to drop the plan. The issue was already a factor in some local elections earlier this month, and it tripped up Hilary Clinton in the last candidate's debate. Many Democrats, already looking ahead to November, 2008, can't distance themselves far enough from the Gov at this point He's being urged by politicians from his own party (the Republicans are loving it), the "experts", and even sympathetic newspaper editorialists to drop the plan, and do so now.
Over the weekend, Spitzer, for the first time, indicated he'd be willing to do so. But on Monday, he seemed to back off; a senior Spitzer official told the NY Sun that "There is no reversal in the works." But I believe that as much as I think that the racing franchise will be split up. Spitzer is on the wrong side of the anti-immigrant sentiment that 's been stirred up by Republicans and the likes of Lou Dobbs, and it certainly didn't help that he thought he could steamroller it through without debate. I think he'll have to back off.
I've heard from fellow Democrats in the comments section in opposition to the plan, and, as Ms. Clinton discovered, it's a tough proposal to even try and be sympathetic to given the current atmosphere. While I certainly respect and understand their opinions, mine is that these people - and they are people, though they are now routinely demonized by the phrase "illegal aliens" - are here. And, due to the government's inability to agree on a new immigration policy, they're not going anywhere anytime soon. And, as human beings like the rest of us, they have to eat, so they have to work, and many will have to drive. It's just the way it is. Personally, I'd rather be driving amongst others who have gone through the steps needed to earn a legal license, even if they may be here illegally. I can only hope for Lou Dobbs' sake that he will not be involved in a serious accident caused by someone who doesn't know how to drive. It's just a matter of practicality and common sense, in my most humble opinion, even if that opinion is currently squarely in the minority. (And remember, eight other states currently issue licenses to those without legal immigrant status, so it's not like Spitzer is a two-headed monster for suggesting it.)
As if the license imbroglio isn't enough, matters in the so-called Troopergate/Choppergate "scandal" have taken a turn for the worse for the Governor, with his former top aide Darren Dopp said to be under investigation for possible perjury by Albany DA David Soares. It seems as if his sworn testimony to Andrew Cuomo, and unsworn statements to Soares and the Public Integrity Commission, in which he claimed to have compiled the information on Bruno's travels in response to newspaper requests, is at odds with written notes, in the form of a "secret diary," collected by investigators. Should an indictment or further fallout regarding Spitzer occur, it will once again likely be due to the coverup rather than the alleged misdeeds themselves.
The Senate Republicans who are carrying on their own investigation are naturally delighted with this development. No question that they've done an excellent job of controlling this debate, with a little help from their friends at the NY Post, which is having a field day with this. The conservative rag has loudly proclaimed this to be the "Dirty Tricks" scandal, and I saw the phrase (without capital letters), picked up by the Daily News as well.
But to me, "dirty tricks" in politics is harassing voters with fake robo-calls purporting to be from the candidates they're trying to discredit, mounting bogus challenges at the polls to try and disenfranchise voters, trying to mislead potential voters into thinking they're not registered or deceiving them to go to the wrong polling places. Prodding a newspaper to publish a well-researched and accurate article concerning the Senate Majority Leader using taxpayer money to help fund his own campaign war chest? Not dirty tricks. Hardball tactics, behavior bordering on the unethical, perhaps. But the only "dirty" thing about this whole mess is Bruno's cynical abuse of permissive state law to use public money for his own political purposes.
That's my take on these two issues....OK, now let me have it!