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Interviews for state comptroller to start

The State Legislature has not been breaking a sweat to publicize it, but the process of selecting a new state comptroller takes center stage Tuesday with an unusual day of public interviews in Albany.

The head of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, said the first -- and presumably only -- interview for potential candidates will be held that day.

But applicants must act quickly -- resumes must be submitted by noon today, and a detailed financial disclosure form must be filed with the state Ethics Commission by Monday in order to be eligible to be interviewed Tuesday.

The process is open to any New York State resident. Anyone?

"Correct," Silver said.

Silver said at least a dozen or so people -- he would not name them -- have contacted him expressing interest in the job left vacant following the recent resignation by Alan Hevesi as part of a plea deal following his admission that he illegally used state resources to transport and care for his wife. A half-dozen of the applicants will be Assembly Democrats who already have revealed their desire for the job; joining the ranks of others interested in the job is Buffalo Comptroller Andrew A. SanFilippo.

How many candidates actually show up Tuesday for an open question-and-answer format is anyone's guess, though. Information about the documents needed to be filed can be found at the Assembly's Web site, www.assembly.state.ny.us.

Legally, the State Legislature fills a statewide post left vacant by resignation. That means Democrats -- who overall have the most members in the two houses -- control the vote, which gives Silver enormous influence over the appointment to fill out the entire four-year term of Hevesi, who was just re-elected last November.

In the past, governors have influenced the process of filling vacancies, and this is no exception. Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer brokered a deal with Silver to use a public interview process. From there, a three-member panel -- former State Comptrollers Edward V. Regan and H. Carl McCall and former New York City Comptroller Harrison Golden -- will narrow the list to no more than five candidates. The Legislature must choose someone off that list; it's still unclear how much lobbying Spitzer will do to influence the process.

If Silver, the Legislature's top Democrat, has a choice in the race, he wasn't saying this week. "I have no idea what will come out," Silver said when asked if it was likely one of the half-dozen Assembly Democrats vying for the job will end up as comptroller.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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