Harry Wilson to DiNapoli: Man Up

It’s always the prerogative of the challenger to call for as many debates as humanly possible, just as it is for the incumbent not to. The fact that Harry Wilson has challenged his unelected opponent to debate him in every major media market isn’t all that surprising. Neither is it surprising that Tom DiNapoli is now going on six days without agreeing to a single debate.

Politics aside, the race for Comptroller is more important this election cycle than it has been in the past, what with the state going bankrupt and all from one failed policy after another.

(For those of you playing the home game, Harry Wilson is the one NOT from the party who has had near complete control of Albany for all that time. DiNapoli not only is from that party, but has been for a while).

The NY Post lays out what’s at stake here…

DiNapoli, then an assemblyman from Long Island, was effectively appointed to the office by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver back in 2007, after incumbent Alan Hevesi left office in disgrace.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it is important that the state comptroller — a combination uber-bookkeeper/watchdog who also administers billions in public-employee pension funds — be put into office by more than one person. Especially when that one person is the ethically challenged Assembly speaker.

So the least DiNapoli can agree to, three years after the fact, is a debate — or two or three — to air out the details of his incumbency, and to discuss fully his vision for the next four years. Meanwhile, Wilson is a scarcely known commodity — a first-time candidate for statewide office, too. It’s also important that his history, and views, be put before the public.

Speaking of the pension plan and budgets and stuff, here’s an example of what the two candidates could debate…

Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund. And, in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund — from the same pension fund.

As word of the plan spread, some denounced it as a shell game and a blatant effort by state leaders to avoid making difficult decisions, like cutting government spending or reducing pension benefits. “It’s a classic Albany example of kicking the can down the road,” said Harry Wilson, the Republican candidate for comptroller, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Pension costs for the state and municipalities are soaring, a result of enhanced retirement benefits for public employees and the decline in the stock market over the past two years. And, given declines in tax revenue and larger budget shortfalls, the governments are struggling to come up with the money to make the contributions.

If there’s one thing a guy with an M.B.A. from Harvard and a guy with a B.A. from SUNY Old Westbury can agree on it’s this…borrowing money from a fund to make payments for that same fund? That don’t really make a lick of sense. It’s one area of many that a robust series of debates could help illustrate to New Yorkers which Comptroller candidate has the better vision to fix New York.

Harry Wilson has laid down the challenge. The question is, when will Tom DiNapoli accept?


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