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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Third Times A Charm (Extensively Updated)

My favorite quote in the NY Times on Wednesday came from one Paolo Romani, a deputy communications minister in Italy who has sponsored a bill which appears to be favorable to the private business interests of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who owns three TV networks.

“It has nothing to do with the fact that our prime minister also owns television stations,” he said. “It’s in Berlusconi’s interest not to be accused of conflict of interest.” [NY Times]
And there you have it - the universal defense for compromised politicians across the globe! A universal anti-motive, genius! Maybe Joe Bruno's attorneys should have thought of that.

Unfortunately though, I don't think that, or any tack would help Governor Paterson at this point. Three times appears to be the charm for the New York Times in its concerted and determined effort to deliver a fatal blow to Paterson's troubled administration. After two prior duds following the rumors of a pending blockbuster, the Times has rocked the capitol with the quite serious allegation that Paterson, along with the State Police, intervened in a domestic abuse case involving his trusted adviser David Johnson.

The governor is claiming that Johnson's one-time girlfriend, who has asked not to be named for fear of retaliation (tell that to the Post), called him, and not the other way around, as the woman's lawyer, Lawrence B. Saftler, insists.
He said, as he had on Wednesday, that the conversation lasted about a minute, that Mr. Paterson had asked if the woman was all right, and concluded by saying, “If you need me, I’m here for you.” [NYT]
The next day, the woman failed to show up for a court hearing, thus ending the case. If it's somehow proven that Paterson is lying about who called whom, then I don't think he'll last another 48 hours following such a revelation. As it is, the calls for him dropping out of the race, at the very least, are multiplying. Senator Liz Krueger thinks that Lt Gov Richard Ravitch should take over the budget negotiations.

The story has already caused one departure; that of Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O'Donnell.
The fact that the Governor and members of the State Police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the Governor’s staff is a very serious matter. These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent. [Capitol Confidential]
As the one-time integrity czar for Empire Racing, Ms. O'Donnell is well-versed on the subject I'm sure. Ah yes, remember, back in those good old days of the franchise bidding and the Ad Hoc Committee, integrity was the buzzword of the day. A full 20% of the grading system was based on integrity; and to then Governor Spitzer (also well-versed on the subject), that requirement didn't go far enough.
Instead, he said, franchise suitors should be forced to meet the integrity standard before even having their bids considered.

"I would have said as a prerequisite that the bidding entities have an absolute clean bill of health when it comes to integrity,'' he said.
Funny, haven't noticed that word recently when it comes to the racino bidding, have you? Especially on the part of those doing the selecting! Three local politicians from the Ozone Park area - Assemblymember Audrey Pfeffer, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, and Community Board 10 chair Betty Braton - didn't like the process either, but feel that we should forge on, a sentiment with which I agree.
“We've roundly criticized the process; it’s not the best way to make this kind of a decision, but it's time for this project to move forward without any further delay,” Braton said. “The AEG selection meets our criteria and we can work with them,” she added. [Queens Courier]
UPDATE - As jk pointed out, the Daily News is reporting that the governor will drop his reelection bid, though he will not resign....for now. The latter may not be that far off. Hidden in the Times story this morning is the fact that the Paterson administration has not refuted the following account of the telephone conversation between the governor and the alleged victim of David Johnson's abuse:
The woman’s lawyer, Lawrence B. Saftler, said Thursday that she had been called by an intermediary for the governor, who told her to call Mr. Paterson, and that she then did so.
If that's the case, then it does, in my view, make the governor's contention that she initiated the call bogus at best, and effectively an outright lie.

- While I'm here updating, how about a couple of totally off-topic comments, OK, you mind?

I keep reading the word "extraordinary" used to describe yesterday's health care summit, and I think that's pretty sad. That's a word I might use to describe a meeting between, say, Israel and Hamas, or between Iran and the US....or the Iran leadership and the opposition there. But to see it in the context of American political leaders discussing an issue as important as health care is a sad commentary on the present partisan state of affairs. However, watching the proceedings, it's not hard to see why we have reached that point. The president invited Republican leaders to air their ideas, and has gone out of his way throughout this process to try to accommodate their ideas. It's clear that the GOP has no intention of participating, even in the numerous areas in which there is some common ground.

Tear up the present bills and start over again? I don't think so. The Democrats control the White House, and have historic majorities in both houses. Therefore, they control the agenda; that's the consequence of elections. The minority party has been invited to provide input and participate. If they decline, as they surely will, then it's on to reconciliation.

- The Olympic hockey tournament resumes today, and, as much as I love our Canadian friends, I think that their obsession with winning the gold medal has gotten out of hand. One gets the impression that a gold medal has become an absolute national prerogative which has going far beyond simple pride. Reading the near-suicidal fan reaction to the team's early struggles was rather comical; and I found the fact that the fans at the arena were rooting against the US team on Wednesday afternoon to be obnoxious and boorish. Sure, their team's chances for the gold would improve if the U.S. loses before the final. However, I thought that Canadians so cherish their sport....and, that being the case, would they really rather watch a decisive game against an outmanned Swiss team than a rematch with the US which could be a game for the ages? Seriously, winning is that important? I find that to be disrespectful and an affront to the game which they claim to love so dearly. So, let's go Slovakia, and here's hoping for a hat trick from Marian Gaborik!!


Anonymous said...

I would have bet you would have posted the video from the NY Times. Hitler vs Eli Broad.


Anonymous said...

So, Alan, we're sticking with AEG as it is our only hope to see racing continue? It would appear that you are right on this one....even as NY state government crumbles down all around. Is there any bright light on the horizon? At least I had a few momentary laughs out of this post. /S/greenmtnpunter

jk said...

DRF is reporting NYRA might shut down the Big A stables and move every one to Belmont. It could be the beginning of the end for the Big A.

alan said...

>>So, Alan, we're sticking with AEG as it is our only hope to see racing continue?

Well, you know as well as I that, no matter what happens (or doesn't happen), they'll be a point when the Saratoga meet is perceived as being threatened, and Albany will find a way to come up with the money that NYRA needs.

Anonymous said...

Then there is Bernie Sanders, VT's Socialist Senator, comparing the global warming skeptics to the Nazis. Brilliant, Bernie. Vermonters have taken to tabbing Bernie our Senator From Brooklyn. And that is an insult to Brooklyn where my mother's ancestors settled in the post Civil War era, and the second generation enjoyed American prosperity. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Alan- My racing pal and I were discussing that very point over breakfast this morning. He fears, as do I, that this time it could be different and that the nearly paralyzed NY legislature and state government could end up punting, with NY racing the innocent bystander. Let's just hope/pray/hold our breaths that you are right one more time, Alan. /S/greenmtnpunter

jk said...

Daily News says.....

Developing > Gov. Paterson will not seek reelection ...

Anonymous said...

Alan, I understand that the till will be nearly empty by Belmont Stakes Day. So, that is June 5. We'll need some legislative action pretty soon, I would say. Or, a NYRA Chapter 11 encore. Hobson's Choice. /S/greenmtnpunter

SaratogaSpa said...

Tik Tok, not just a silly pop song, Paterson will be gone, The slots will continue, The State will come up the last minute with cash to keep Belmont and the Spa going this year..on to our 4 governor since VLT's approved in '01.

Anonymous said...

Governor Patterson is terminating his re-election bid.

Anonymous said...

Will NYRA file bankruptcy again if the AEG deal falls apart?

I hope not.

Teresa said...

How about the outcry over the women cracking open a few Molsons on the ice after the game?

Anonymous said...

All of you- Saratoga Spa take special note- who keep saying it will be NY racing business as usual may come a cropper this time. 2010 is different. Very different, a total crapshoot.

The fact of the matter is none of us can really predict what will happen since the status quo is so vulnerable. Much as those Albany pols enjoy their little fundraising junkets to the Spa, they can still find a way to screw up a free lunch. /S/greenmtnpunter

alan said...

>>they can still find a way to screw up a free lunch.

True that. I'm just thinking that Saratoga falls into the "too big to fail" category. Even with Joe gone.

Anonymous said...

I have supported the Gov through thick and thin but this revelation is the end, not just for me but everyone. Buh-bye, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

What bothers me most is this crap happens all the time. The Times and other media outlets most likely have incriminating evidence about every elected official in this state, they selectively release it when it suits their agenda.

The are all crooks, every last politico in every state and nationally and the media, which should be the watch dogs, instead appease their behavior.

Nationally, when I looked at all those jerks sitting around that big table for the dog and pony show yesterday all I saw was a bunch of lawyers speaking on behalf of their particular special interest groups. Not a statesman among them. Both sides of the aisle will be equally culpable when the whole economic system crashes down around us.

I just ordered my Chinese Rosetta Stone program, going to need it sooner rather than later. Perhaps we should just turn over NYRA to the Chinese now, they will certainly run the thing more efficiently.

alan said...

>>I have supported the Gov through thick and thin but this revelation is the end, not just for me but everyone.

Yup, me too. An incredible and inexcusable lack of judgment. Makes that meeting with Floyd Flake seem innocuous.

Anonymous said...


This latest 'gaf' by Governor Paterson demonstrates that he is in fact not politically savy and probably politically naive.

I always felt that the Flake meeting was innocuous but the Gov paid a price for it once the press made it appear sinister.

Him taking that 'call' in the Johnson scandal just reinforces to me once again that he is politically naive.

I suspect the various investigation will prove this but the Governor had no choice but to terminate his election bid otherwise the storm would continue.

Anonymous said...


Because of your blind liberal bias, you were dead wrong in your support of soon-to-be ex-Gov. Paterson, and the same goes with your fantasy about the Dems using reconciliation to pass their Obamacare monstrosity.

alan said...

>>Because of your blind liberal bias, you were dead wrong in your support of soon-to-be ex-Gov. Paterson...

Oh, making fun of his handicap, are you? :-)

Look, I totally admit to liberal bias when it comes to national politics, but I think that I've blasted state Democrats as much, if not more than the GOP.

Anonymous said...

This state needs some real leadership badly. To bad we may get Cuomo. He is no leader. I just hope Silver gets what is coming to him soon. On a side note anyone know what happened to Thoroughbred champions forum? it doesn't come up anymore.

Anonymous said...

Fred G/H.B.

As far as health care goes, I'm 65, just give me the same coverage we pay for the congressional members AND their families [not to mention pensions], simple as that! And it only takes them a single 2 year term, not the 35 years I gave to NYC.

SaratogaSpa said...

/S/greenmtnpunter-you say, 2010 will be different

call me a skeptic, guilty as charged. I hope I am wrong....

Anonymous said...

Alan, I don't know how someone who so clearly sees through the BS of the NY pols can be so utterly fooled by the likes of Obama-Pelosi-Reid./S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Alan, following from recent WSJ on line piece about Skilling-Enron case may be one of Joe Bruno's tickets to have his conviction overturned. I heard that one of the other three SCOTUS cases is ol' Joe's. Bet many in Albany are secretly rooting for Joe, after all, any one of us could be next!

"The Supreme Court also is reviewing whether one of the laws Mr. Skilling was convicted of breaking is unconstitutionally vague. The jury found that Mr. Skilling violated a federal law that required him to provide the company and its shareholders with the "intangible right of honest services."

"The government's use of the honest-services fraud statute has been a matter of increasing debate in legal circles. The Supreme Court seems eager to weigh in on the debate. The justices accepted three cases, including Mr. Skilling's, for review this term that involved disputes over the use of the honest-services statute."