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.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.
"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.
“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!!