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Start the Transition Now

July 13, 2010

How will history treat Governor David A. Paterson? 

Will he be viewed as someone who was in over his head? Or will he be viewed more favorably as one who struggled mightily to keep the state together during crisis and tried to do the right thing? 

A lot depends on the next few months. Will there be more bickering with lawmakers and more awkward disclosures about his administration? Or will the storyline be one of Paterson setting politics aside and trying to advance the interests of the state?

For Paterson’s sake and everyone’s sake, we hope it’s the later. And in this regard, we offer the following suggestion: 

Why not begin the transition process now? That’s right, set up a transition team immediately. Don’t wait until November. Help your successor, whoever it is, hit the ground running.

One of the unspoken things about government is the degree to which people take over not knowing what the hell they are doing. The truth is that it takes many months to get accustomed to the position, and to figure out what you can and cannot do. 

To think that this process can take place in the six short weeks between election day and inauguration day is nuts. Keep in mind that the outgoing crew (the opposing party in the last two elections) has no incentive to facilitate a transition. To the contrary, at least part of them would like nothing better than to see their successor fall flat on his or her face. 

Paterson can change things for the better. He can set a positive new precedent. He can begin the process now of briefing possible successors on the details of government operations, and on the true budget picture.   

Is there any conceivable argument against doing this? 

Maybe there are state secrets that shouldn’t be disclosed. That’s kind of silly. 

Maybe it would keep administration officials from getting important work done. No. 

Maybe it would interfere with the gubernatorial campaign. To the contrary, if it was open to all the candidates, it might result in a campaign that actually focuses on relevant issues for a change. 

Maybe it would be costly. Not likely. But even if it did involve some cost, it would surely be worth it. 

Please think about it, Governor Paterson. This could be another solid demonstration of your commitment to do the right thing. And this could really help the state.

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