The news on Monday came as a shock to us all - Gov. Eliot Spitzer, crusader of Wall Street and sworn proponent of ethical governance in Albany, was involved in a prostitution ring. On Wednesday, in a sad but appropriate move, he said he would resign.
It is very easy to simply dismiss the former governor as a hypocrite and a liar - and he is. But what is important to keep in mind, however, is the good Spitzer did for New York - most notably his crusade as attorney general against illegal activities at high-profile brokerage firms - and the good he was trying to do as governor by proposing a huge endowment fund to strengthen the SUNY and CUNY systems.
Given the shock of the revelation and the media frenzy that naturally ensued, many may be quick to forget the governor's agenda regarding SUNY and CUNY. Lt. Gov. David Paterson undoubtedly has a lot on his plate with his unexpected transition to the governor's seat, but we urge him and his administration to not forget Spitzer's efforts or the other recommendations put forward by Spitzer's Commission on Higher Education. Spitzer undoubtedly exercised tremendously poor judgment with his escapades, but did have the wisdom to understand the absolutely pivotal role that public higher education plays in determining the future of New York State.
We urge the new governor to pick up exactly where Spitzer left off with his endowment plan, and to institute the other recommendations put forward by the commission. If the new governor plans to follow through with the promises he and Spitzer made during the 2006 campaign to revitalize the upstate economy and give New Yorkers hope for the future, strengthening SUNY and CUNY absolutely must be at the forefront of his efforts.