Change comes to Albany and Washington

With Democrats taking the House and apparently the Senate in Tuesday’s heartening Election Day, America should be moving closer to the right track. With Donald Rumsfeld’s long overdue ouster from the Pentagon, the president may be signaling he is finally ready to discuss rationally the least bad way to get us out of the mess he initiated in Iraq. The victories should also mean the end to boondoggle giveaways to pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors, and that no more extremist judges will get lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

A Democratically-controlled Congress may also be good news for New York and Lower Manhattan on a whole host of issues including homeland security funds, transportation money, and – dare we dream it – perhaps an end to the one-way Verrazano Bridge tolls that give truckers incentive to drive out of their way into congested Downtown Manhattan.

Closer to home, Eliot Spitzer’s long-expected landslide win is now official and hopefully this will finally give him enough comfort to speak on the details of his vision for Lower Manhattan. It was frustrating, yet probably wise political strategy to avoid specifics during the gubernatorial campaign.

We wish the governor-elect only good will as he tries to reform Albany and pass landmark legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. He’ll need it.

As state attorney general, he showed himself to be a fighter who stands up to powerful interests, be they Wall St. white-collar criminals or developers eager to cash in on the East Village’s community gardens. He went to bat for the little guy — such as the East Village’s Mexican greengrocer workers, helping them achieve a living wage and basic concessions from employers.

We look forward to hearing more about his plans for Downtown too — not because Wall St. has always been crucial to New York’s economy, although that should not be dismissed — but of course because the awfulness of 9/11 has given Lower Manhattan a unique significance.

We look forward to Spitzer’s fresh set of eyes as he examines Downtown’s redevelopment. He should work with the mayor to jumpstart the long-delayed Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center site. Both should clarify the fundraising mechanism and timetable for the PAC and pressure the Port Authority to do all it can to ensure that construction on the center could begin in two, not five years.

He needs to make sure the five-plus years of tired excuses at damaged Fiterman Hall end, and safe demolition work begins soon.

Spitzer should dive right in and grab his 50 percent control of the Port as quickly as possible and if that requires shaming some of Gov. Pataki’s appointees into leaving early, so be it. Same goes for the Hudson River Park Trust, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Battery Park City Authority and the dozens of other public authorities he will have partial or full responsibility for.

In Hudson River Park, there are pressing issues connected to the Tribeca segment and the possible redevelopment of Pier 40. In Battery Park City, run by an authority with a mostly positive track record, Spitzer’s staff should examine the merits of the B.P.C.A.’s ideas about expanding to Pier A and Greenwich St.