Cuomo Keeping Schwartz, Bringing Back Spitzer Aide

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Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo announced today that he’s keeping outgoing Gov. David Paterson’s secretary, Larry Schwartz, as a senior adviser and bringing back Paul Francis, who was Eliot Spitzer’s budget director.

Schwartz’s retention has been rumored for awhile, and was reported this morning by Crain’s as a possibility. He has been the main go-between with the outgoing and incoming administrations.

Cuomo’s announcement said Schwartz’s role will be to assist with the transition, but it’s unclear whether that means he will stay on indefinitely.

Schwartz is well known in Westchester politics after serving as deputy county executive under former Democratic executive Andrew Spano, starting in 1998. He left that post in early 2009 to become Paterson’s top aide and steady the governor’s office after Paterson’s first secretary Charles O’Byrne resigned over tax problems and his successor Bill Cunningham was viewed as struggling in the job.

Schwartz has been Paterson’s chief negotiator during recent budget battles and has drawn the ire of public employees over his tough stance in negotiations, which led to a stalemate and the governor’s decision in October to lay off 900 workers.

Schwartz, who also serves as chairman of the now-defunct New York City OTB, was also knocked in a recent Inspector General’s report for his role in steering a lucrative gaming contract to a politically connected firm. The report said Schwartz ignored data that questioned the application of the company, AEG, and for providing testimony to the IG’s office that “was characterized by a remarkable professed lack of recall.”

In his testimony, Schwartz said he sees his role as “chief operating officer of state government for the executive branch.”

His salary in his new role was not included in this morning’s announcement. He is paid $178,000 as Paterson’s secretary.

Francis, meanwhile, has will serve as director of Agency Redesign and Efficiency, a new position. He’s another Westchester resident.

Francis, currently COO of the Financial Products Division of Bloomberg, L.P., was brought into state government by Eliot Spitzer as Spitzer’s budget director in 2007. A year later he was named director of state operations, but left in September 2008, six months after Spitzer’s regination to join Bloomberg — among many top level officials who left after Spitzer’s departure.

Francis brings a deep background in the private sector, including as an attorney, an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, CFO at Ann Taylor Stores Corporation and then as the first CFO at Priceline.com. He has also been an adviser to Cuomo’s policy team during the campaign.

“Paul knows as much about how the private sector works as he does about how government works and this is exactly the type of experience and perspective we need in order to take on the critical task of reorganizing and rightsizing State government for the first time since the 1920’s,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Francis’ role will be to develop Cuomo’s plan to reorganize state government and its agencies.

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