Who's in charge around here?

david paterson

If something happens to him, then what?

So, when David Paterson had to go to the hospital earlier this week, we thought "Oh wow, if something happens to him, that means Joe Bruno is governor." But then we thought, "Wait, what if something then happens to Joe Bruno? Then what?"

So we asked Bennett Liebman, the Executive Director of Albany Law School's Center for Government and Law to set us straight. Here's how it works...

If Governor Paterson couldn't fulfill his term as governor because of death or prostitution or whatever, then the temporary president of the Senate/majority leader (currently Joe Bruno) becomes acting governor. If that happened today, Bruno would serve until November of 2008. If it happened less than 90 days before election day 2008, then Bruno would serve until November 2009. That is, if Bruno remained temporary Senate president. The Senate could elect a new temporary president and that person would replace Bruno as acting governor.

Still with us?

OK. Now if Acting Governor Bruno could not fulfill the term, the job would go to the Assembly speaker, currently Sheldon Silver. But Silver shouldn't plan to redecorate the mansion or anything. He'd only be there long enough for the Senate to vote on a new temporary president, who would then become the acting governor until the next election.

Got that?

Why is it this confusing? How come we just don't have a provision for selecting a new lieutenant governor? Liebman says it's partly just a historical quirk. He also says it's a statement about the job of lieutenant governor. "People considered it more of a ceremonial position," he says.

When he was lieutenant governor, David Paterson himself used to joke that his job was "to wake up very early in the morning and call the Governor's private line. If he answers you can go back to sleep."

Liebman says the question hasn't really been a topic of discussion for decades. The last time it came up in a formal way was the last couple of constitutional congresses. The last time we had one of those was 1967.

Robin Schimminger, an assemblyman from out near Buffalo, recently proposed a plan to set up a process so that the lieutenant governor could be replaced. Schimminger plan would also get rid of the state's "abscence" clause, which makes whoever's next in line for governor the acting governor if the actual governor physically leaves the state.



Lets simplify things by putting Charles in charge. Charles in charge of our days and our nights. Charles in charge of our wrongs and our rights. And I sing, I want, I want Charge in charge of me.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

The From Scratch Club food swap back in Troy

The popular From Scratch Club food swap returns to the Oakwood Community Center in Troy this Sunday, October 11 with a both a swap and... (more)

Excited raccoon!

Check it out: The cover for the new book of essays by Jenny Lawson (AKA, The Bloggess) -- Furiously Happy -- was designed by local... (more)

Effort to buy, preserve, and re-display the South End Tavern signs

Sometimes a building or sign is in the same place for so long that it starts to feel like a part of the landscape, like... (more)

Capitol Hauntings tours are back

The popular Halloween tours of the state Capitol -- Capitol Hauntings -- start this week and run through October 30. Blurbage: Does the night watchman... (more)

Distilling the next life for Albany's oldest building

In a life almost three centuries long, you're going to cycle through a few different careers. So it is with the Van Ostrande-Radliff House --... (more)

Recent Comments

I went to polish school, I grew up eating polish food, I even help cook polish food at the biannual polish dinner/ dances and even dressed up like a polish soldier for parades, so l guess I'm polish AND there is nothing better than going to Muza's for the food I grew up that is just as good as moms.

Distilling the next life for Albany's oldest building

...has 11 comments, most recently from Kim

Morning Blend for Oct 5

...has 1 comment, most recently from J

The week ahead

...has 1 comment, most recently from Dan Roesser

Drawing: Prize basket for Local Harvest Festival

...has 89 comments, most recently from Paul

New look for the Schenectady casino project

...has 28 comments, most recently from Michael