Hein Departs

To paraphrase a memorable line from Bogie’s Treasure of Sierra Madre, “Senate confirmation? We don’t need no steenking senate confirmation!”

But is county exec Mike Hein taking a calculated risk in resigning his post before the senate even meets to confirm, or has this thing always been in the bag? As an outsider, I’d guess the latter.

As the governor’s temporary appointee, pending senate action, Hein will have all the authority of a duly designated department head, including its $190,000 a year salary. Given Andrew Cuomo’s interim appointment, it is highly unlikely the state senate, controlled by Democrats, will kick off the traces.

Hein is perfectly safe, for now, unless he somehow offends his deeply suspicious, paranoiac, control freak of a bully-boss. Come to think of it, these guys have a lot in common, which in this case, does not accrue to the new appointee’s favor.

In any case, we wish Hein the best of luck in his new job. He’ll need it.

Hein’s Monday morning resignation date may have brought loud sighs of relief in some county quarters, but it also set in motion at least two schedules that will determine the future of the executive office.

One clock has the governor calling a special election within 90 days after the date of the vacancy, which would place it around May 11. The other clock dictates that if no special election is held within 180 days of the Nov. 4 general election, the person appointed by the outgoing executive serves the rest of his or her term. One hundred eighty days from the November election is May 10. It could be curious or just coincidental but it’s definitely tight. And the clock is ticking.

Adele Reiter, Hein’s chief of staff, has been his designated successor under the charter since he took office in 2009. Indeed, Reiter’s position was not in the charter approved by voters and which Hein so staunchly defends. He specifically asked for the position after his election in 2008 and a compliant legislature complied. Absent a special election, she’ll serve out the rest of his term.

Meanwhile, this tidbit adds flavor to the broth: Numerous sources are reporting that Gov. Cuomo has balked at calling a special election for county executive. If not, then what? Lawyers are still sorting that one out, but let’s cut to what might be the bottom line. (In police work, they call this deductive reasoning.)

There is no one Hein trusts (trusted) with his legacy more than his chief of staff. Always nearby – they even do lunch together almost every day – she was part and parcel to every major decision by the Hein administration, and there were dozens of them. Sometimes called “Mike’s brain,” the non-practicing lawyer was a leveling influence on a sometimes-impulsive executive. Typically, if he did or said something dumb, insiders would conclude, “he didn’t run that one past Adele.”

So, what better person to hold the fort, keep the train on track (sorry, Catskill Mountain Railroad), and to keep the secrets than his most trusted and loyal confidant? And why not rig the succession process in order to achieve that end?

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