Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gov. Paterson Slips Into An Alternate Reality

Public opinion has turned on Governor David Paterson of New York and many want to see him gone. Common Cause, which had been supporting Paterson until now, has decided that it's time for him to go. They have good reason, particularly with the Commission of Public Integrity finding that the state's top Democrat lied and that the CPI's investigation was passed on to the Albany County DA David Soares and State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for potential prosecution for any number of charges including fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

That's on top of his alleged actions in influencing a woman to drop her domestic abuse charges against Paterson's top adviser, David Johnson. Johnson, via his lawyer, says that he didn't harm Sherr-una Booker. Three top Paterson administration officials have resigned - the state police chief, Paterson's spokesman, and the criminal justice chief.

Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver wants Paterson to answer all the allegations now - particularly with the state budget due by the end of the month. This massive distraction has consequences for everyone in the state. It also means that Silver is the one wielding the most power these days since he's firmly entrenched in the back room negotiations and John Sampson of the Senate took that position after last year's Senate mess.

He's circling the drain, and he doesn't seem to know it by the looks of a report where he claims that he'll be vindicated. Really? Vindicated? Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

It's curious that former NY governor (and father of AG Andrew Cuomo) and Charlie Rangel both want to see Paterson serve out his term. Mario is playing the politics particularly well since his son is the presumptive candidate to replace Paterson at the end of his term. Rangel is mired in his own mess, so if Paterson resigns, pressure on Rangel to do likewise would likely increase as well (even though Rangel should have been canned long ago for his tax cheating ways).

Paterson can't catch a break. Even at a seemingly innocuous event - the opening of a new restaurant at JFK airport - he stood under a mural that had a rather (in)appropriate caption.
More than 30 journalists jammed into the restaurant to chronicle the strange spectacle of an under-siege governor taking time to tout a new eatery, even as his administration was imploding.

"I'm so happy that you've joined me to see how hard I work," he quipped to the throng of reporters as his poll numbers collapsed and the good-government group Common Cause called for his ouster.

Paterson hustled throughout the day to talk about state budget woes and growing New York businesses - signaling that he was trying to transition from the scandalous to the serious.

The Palm event didn't help though, experts say.

"If you're going to make believe you're doing the job, make it look like you're doing the job. He doesn't seem to understand the real job and the ceremonial aspects of the job," scoffed Baruch College Prof. Doug Muzzio.

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