Monday, March 01, 2010

New York Political Scandals Coming To A Head

It's getting pretty tough to keep track of all the political scandals in New York these days.

There are the multitude of scandals - all involving top Democrats. There is the huge scandal involving Governor Paterson, his former top staffer David Johnson and state troopers which threatens to take down the governor. 911 calls from Johnson's apparent assault have been released, but the key issue is what did Governor Paterson say and do in his phone call to the alleged victim, Sherr-una Booker.

Paterson feels jilted that Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver isn't continuing to back Paterson. Well, no one in their right mind wants to do business with Paterson and his political capital is pretty much gone. Silver is the most powerful man in Albany at the moment, and the one least tainted by scandal. That's bad news for state taxpayers since the state budget is due April 1 and there's little chance that a fiscally prudent budget plan will be negotiated by the leadership in Albany. It also means that Silver is in the driver's seat and Silver has never seen a spending plan that couldn't be improved - by more spending. Silver says that he wants to deal with Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch on budget issues - almost expecting Paterson to resign or be impeached in the near future, but Paterson is holding on and is freezing Ravitch out of the process for now (lieutenant governors have no real power under state law).

The Paterson scandal is keeping Attorney General Andrew Cuomo busy, and it appears that the investigation into Paterson's wrongdoing is keeping Cuomo's own potential plans to run for governor under wraps until after Cuomo finishes his investigations into both Paterson and Pedro Espada Jr (another Democrat involved in unethical conduct).

There's the ongoing scandal involving Gregory Meeks and Malcolm Smith and the "charity" they ran that never seemed to be able to actually follow the money and hundreds of thousands of dollars never went where it was supposed to.

Then, there's the ongoing mess with US Congressman Charles Rangel, who continues to hold on to the Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee even though Rangel should have been tossed out for violating House rules and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface with his tax troubles with the IRS and multiple state and local tax authorities. The New York Times again reiterated its call for Rangel to be removed from the chairmanship.

In what must be the most hilarious juxtaposition of corruption and cronyism, Rangel, Malcolm Smith, Charles Barron, and several other key African-American Democrats including Al Sharpton tried to rally support for David Paterson. It was a who's who of people who should be tossed from office and those who should never be allowed near elected office again. Sadly, H. Carl McCall was among those at that confab and he dirtied his own reputation with his presence.

Paterson spoke at a conference this morning and said that he wont resign and that he's not going to delegate budget authority to Ravitch. He says that he's going to govern for the next 306 days. Right - this from a guy who apparently likes the trappings of being governor than actually governing.

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