As bad as things have been going for Governor David Paterson over Aqueduct, they are apparently about to get worse, and significantly so.
For about two weeks now, Albany has been buzzing that the New York Times was preparing a blockbuster scandal exposé about Governor Paterson, one that could seriously affect his chances for reelection. [NY Magazine]The story is said to involve the governor's personal conduct and, according to Elizabeth Benjamin, the first to mention the buzz in the media, will be far worse than his acknowledged extramarital affair with a former state employee.
In fact, the buzz reached such a fevered pitch, that there are already rumors about his impending resignation. Those stories are being denied.
"This is a new low even by the standards of Planet Albany," said Paterson spokesman Peter Kauffmann late Sunday. "The circus of the past week entirely fabricated out of thin air and innuendo is an embarrassment for all who have played a role in fueling it."If the governor is indeed sliding towards political oblivion, it was the Aqueduct affair which supplied the initial push. Paterson, who made the front page of the Daily News on Friday, was again strafed by the press over the weekend in editorial and columns such as this, this, this, and this. And it's all pretty ironic, though entirely his fault, that the AEG selection has raised questions about his integrity in the matter. That cloud was instead supposed to be hanging over the head of Senator Malcolm Smith and the Senate Democrats; indeed, it was the governor who was supposedly holding out against them (in favor instead of the outfit which employed his political advisor as a lobbyist). Indeed, Paterson could very well have gotten through this unscathed if AEG meets Speaker Sheldon's conditions and begins construction in due time.
"I've never seen the rumor of a story becoming the story as this one has," said Doug Muzzio, politics professor at New York City's Baruch College. [AP]
But his meeting with the Rev Floyd Flake, which the press is reporting as being three days after the selection, but in fact was the morning after Friday afternoon as far as business days goes, was an error of judgment so grievous as to qualify as bizarre. What was he thinking....or who could possibly have told him to do such a thing?
Well, actually, according to a report last week on the Post's Page Six, it was none other than the aforementioned Paterson political advisor/SL Green lobbyist (now ex-lobbyist) Bill Lynch while on an Acela train last Sunday. That would be pretty damn funny if it is indeed the case that the lobbyist for the group Paterson didn't select gave the governor advice which amounted to certain political suicide as far as any hopes of re-election goes.
According to Crains New York, AEG was set to meet with the community late last week and begin "pre-construction" of thee site on Friday. And it's a good thing if they hit the ground running. Of course, everyone wants to know if they can come up with the cash by March 31; and many people seem to believe that they cannot.
Sources raised questions about where AEG will find $300 million -- the up-front licensing fee it must pay to move ahead with the project.I think at this point, AEG should be given a short leash on demonstrating that it has the cash. We can hardly afford to wait until March 31 to find out otherwise.
The lead financial partner for AEG is a Canadian merchant bank, Clairvest, whose total assets come only to about $300 million, a Post review found.
AEG yesterday said that Deutsche Bank -- which is not a partner -- will provide additional financing. [NY Post]