Hmmm...I'm not anything like an expert on state government in general, and New York state government in particular, but I do know that the New York State Senate had been a GOP-led anomaly for many years, and that Democrats took it over after the 2008 election. Now, I don't know what any of the various liberal governors (everyone but Pataki, right?) have thought about these issues over the years, and for all I know those Republican State Senates were all for the reforms Serwer lauds but were blocked by the various governers...but I'm a bit suspicious, to say the least.
I'll readily admit I'm talking through my hat here, and I'll be glad to run an apology or a correction or whatever if I'm wrong, but I'm willing to bet that it the change in the legislature was the key factor here, not the governor. Anyone know?
Yeah I didn't mean to completely diminish the role of leaders in the Legislature -- people like state Sen. Eric Schneiderman or advocacy groups like the NYCLU in getting this stuff done. But it's also true that Paterson has long been an advocate for these types of reforms, and since he's generally seen as the worst governor ever, I wanted to point out one area in which he's been exceptional. It's not an either or -- both the changes in the Legislature and the governor's mansion were instrumental in making this happen.