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.

photo:ny.gov

Comments

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

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA: + Daniel and the Best Dozen stopped in at Stewart's for donuts. + Christina... (more)

10x10: Casinos, John Oliver, new spots

A while back we did a thing where wrote 10 reviews/comments in no more than 10 words each. People seemed to like it, and it... (more)

Holiday gifts: Deanna Fox

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past... (more)

NY Thruway Guide

Might be worth a look: NY Thruway Guide, an iPhone app that's pretty much what it sounds like. It provides access to the lineup of... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

There's lots going on the the Capital Region this weekend -- both holiday and non-holiday. So if you're looking to take a break from all... (more)

Recent Comments

... I tend to ask questions that make the person think about what they just said. I ask it sweetly and in a tone that notes confusion on my part. I have been called honey in the office and asked the person, " Can I ask what you mean when you call me honey? Because you don't call John honey." It calls out that he's treating you differently for being a woman. If he still doesn't get it, you can be more direct: "I appreciate that you respect my work and treat me equally, but I wouldn't want others to think otherwise based on how you address me."

Local food gifts

...has 10 comments, most recently from Carolyn

Capital Region high school graduation rates 2014

...has 2 comments, most recently from Greg

NY Thruway Guide

...has 1 comment, most recently from Rob

Good neighborhood holiday light displays?

...has 4 comments, most recently from MikeH

Where to get latkes?

...has 14 comments, most recently from Susan Anthony Brownell