DiNapoli Puts it in Writing

Tom DiNapoli is circulating a letter to colleagues outlining reasons why he should be the next state comptroller.

In keeping with prevailing theme of political independence, DiNapoli stresses a willingness to work with Republicans in the legislature.

“While I am certainly a proud Democrat, I have never hesitated to work with my Republican colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to support legislation in the public interest. I have always believed that partisanship must never get in the way of good government. My ability to be an effective, independent comptroller – to call it as I see it – is just a logical extension of that philosophy.”

DiNapoli also touts the role he played in helping Nassau emerge from its fiscal crisis after years of GOP control.

Coincidentally, that fiscal turnaround was also a central theme of the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Suozzi, who defeated DiNapoli in a race for county executive.

The rest of the letter is after the jump.

– Azi Paybarah


Dear Colleague,

Integrity. Independence. Experience. As I talk to our colleagues about the qualities they are looking for in the next State Comptroller, these are the words I keep hearing.

I am seeking your support to be New York’s next State Comptroller because I believe that I possess those qualities and would be able to continue the bi-partisan tradition of independent Comptrollers that have served the State so well.

During my two decades representing the families of the 16th Assembly District, I have demonstrated my integrity and my character to my constituents and to you.

While I am certainly a proud Democrat, I have never hesitated to work with my Republican colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to support legislation in the public interest. I have always believed that partisanship must never get in the way of good government. My ability to be an effective, independent comptroller – to call it as I see it – is just a logical extension of that philosophy.

My experience in the Assembly has helped prepare me for this next challenge. I have been a member of the Ways & Means Committee for 15 years, working on State budgets, budget reform, debt reform, and other important statewide fiscal issues.

As Chairman of the Local Governments Committee, I worked with local government officials across New York and understand the fiscal challenges they consistently face. At the same time, the State needs to be cognizant that these local taxing jurisdictions must be made more efficient to alleviate an ever-growing tax burden on their constituents. That insight will help me in working with counties, cities, towns, villages, and school districts around the State both in terms of the Comptroller’s audit function, as well as in working with local government officials to help them institute best practices and reign in costs.

I worked with the Comptroller’s office and with Democratic and Republican State and local officials in helping to craft and enact the legislation that enabled Nassau County to emerge from serious fiscal distress and reach the improved financial condition it enjoys today. The oversight role and financial plan requirements of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority serve as an effective model for how the State can assist localities in reversing inefficient fiscal practices.

When I served as Chairman of the Government Operations Committee, I learned about the workings of the many departments and agencies under this committee’s jurisdiction. The insights I gained from these assignments and experiences will be invaluable in the role of auditing State government. The Comptroller’s auditing function is key to improving the accountability and efficiency of State spending and to helping agencies provide better services to taxpayers.

I also worked with the Comptroller’s office to draft and pass stronger school district accountability laws in response to the scandals that exposed the theft of taxpayer dollars on Long Island. This was an important achievement for me. I served on a board of education for ten years, including two terms as board president. Years later, when I learned about the stealing of monies for our children’s education in the Roslyn School District, I was outraged. As Comptroller, I will further strengthen the State’s fiscal oversight of school districts to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely on our children’s education and not lost to fraud, waste or abuse.

My extensive knowledge of State and local government is not all I will bring to the job of Comptroller. For ten years I worked in the private sector in the telecommunications industry. For most of those years I served in a variety of management positions. At the time of my election in 1986, I managed an office of more than 100 employees at AT&T. I also earned a graduate degree in management from The New School University in New York City, which further honed my skills in managing people to produce the best possible results.

That management experience will serve me well as Comptroller, supervising a staff of more than 2,000 experienced – and largely civil service – professionals who carry out the important functions of the office everyday.

I look forward to participating in the selection process that has been established preceding the vote of the Legislature to fill the vacancy in this critically important office. You will hear much more about my vision for the kind of Comptroller I will be when I testify before the joint fiscal committees next week. You should know now, however, that my top goals include:

* Restoring the reputation of the Office so that New Yorkers know they have a Comptroller of integrity;
* Ensuring that what has worked well at the Comptroller’s office continues;
* Protecting and maximizing the returns on pension fund investments as sole trustee; and,
* Strengthening the audit process to help State entities and local governments match their practices with their missions by employing best practices to produce better results.

Finally, while the State Comptroller’s independence must be beyond question – and mine will be – I want to assure you that I look forward to working with my partners in government. Though the “watchdog” role is central to this position, I will also work vigorously with the Governor to implement his vision for reforming State government. Similarly, working with the members of the Legislature – both houses, both parties – is crucial to gaining the successes we would all like to see achieved.

I am ready for this job. I have the integrity, independence and experience needed to serve the people of New York as our next State Comptroller. As this process unfolds and you learn more about my qualifications and views, I would welcome your input and I ask for your support.

Sincerely,

Thomas P. DiNapoli