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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Blockhead Gov Created His Own Blockbuster

The most incredible thing to me about the latest, and possibly last straw article in the NY Times about Governor Paterson is the timing of the events described therein. According to the story, the governor's press secretary, on his orders, called the woman (still being identified only as such in the Times; no longer in the Daily News) on the very evening that the Times was preparing to publish its first article in the series - the widely-panned piece on Paterson's close aide, and accused domestic abuser - David Johnson. It was on February 9 that Paterson was interviewed by the Times' Danny Hakim, and subsequently bragged that there was no blockbuster story that would cause him to step down, as was widely rumored the time.

It was another week, on Feb 16, that the first article was published, and it contains the following passages regarding the two incidents involving Johnson and a girlfriend, one in 2001, and the one last October:

Asked last week about the episode, Mr. Paterson said he was not aware of it. But the governor recalled a separate episode involving Mr. Johnson and a woman, which he said also occurred in 2001, where the police were called.
The governor said he was aware that Mr. Johnson might have had another problematic encounter with a girlfriend last October in the Bronx. He described it, essentially, as a bad breakup.
So, according to this timeline, Paterson had already been questioned by the Times on the October assault in question.....but then still allegedly initiated the calls to the woman nearly a week later, despite the fact that he knew that the Times was aware of the incident and snooping around. It's hard to believe that he could be that complacent about the paper's intentions. Paterson himself actually created the blockbuster that the Times didn't have. He stepped right into his own poop. That kind of poor judgment goes far beyond the mere political naivete we all agree he is guily of, and into the realm of shocking stupidity. Almost like a death wish.

I had predicted, should it come to pass that Paterson's initial contention that the woman had initiated the contact to him was a lie, that he would be gone within 48 hours. So the clock is ticking on that. But so far, the calls for his resignation have been scattered at best; he even picked up some support from Sheldon well as from a group of Latino lawmakers, including Senators Ruben Diaz Sr and Pedro Espada. That should come as no surprise, considering that those two voted against the expulsion of Hiram Monserrate, an actual convicted domestic abuser, rather than "mererly" an alleged coverer-up.

And of course, Paterson, who affirmed late on Tuesday that he will not resign, deserves the opportunity to tell his own story; the accusations are merely ones made in a newspaper. Nothing he will say could excuse his lack of judgment, and it's certainly a fair argument in my mind that it was lacking enough so that he should go. Still, I'm thinking that he's gonna hang on here, at least for awhile.


jk said...

Newsday is behind a paywall now but this sounds juicy. Charlie Hayward's salary is a bargain compared to this....

Scrutiny over Nassau OTB agency's hire
from Political stories from Newsday
The new Republican-appointed directors of Nassau's off-track betting agency Tuesday moved to replace its $198,000 Democratic president with a longtime GOP operative who had been disbarred in the mid-'90s for diverting client funds to his own use

Anonymous said...

Daily News:

Q Poll: Voters Don't Like Gov, But Want To Keep Him »

By Elizabeth Benjamin

Today's Q poll finds Gov. David Paterson's job approval rating has sunk to a new low, with 62 percent of New York voters saying they disapprove of his performance in office.

Yet 61 percent want him to stick around until his term ends on Dec. 31. That's pretty much in keeping with what the Marist poll reported yesterday.

"New York State voters give Gov. David Paterson big negatives, his lowest ever in a year-long crash dive, but they're not ready to pull the trigger," said Q pollster Mickey Carroll.

"Whether it's mercy, pity or a fear of stepping into the unknown, it runs across all the demographic categories."

The poll was in the field March 1-2. There was a measurable drop in support for the governor - particularly among women - on the second night when more details of the governor's involvement in the David Johnson mess started to come out and NOW-NYS called on him to resign, Carroll noted.

Meanwhile, AG Andrew Cuomo's approval rating is 70-16, with Republicans giving him high marks, too (62-25).

LG Richard Ravitch is largely unknown to New Yorkers; 78 percent said they don't know enough about him to form an opinion. Fifty-three percent are undecided about whether he's doing a good job, and those who do know who he is are split - 24-24 - on his performance in the office to which Paterson appointed him last summer.

Forty-seven percent of those polled said Paterson would do a better job than Ravitch of running the state.

Anonymous said...

PENN NATIONAL: Is This Company About to Fail?

By Chuck Saletta - March 2, 2010

Just months ago, the credit market was exceptionally tight. In spite of (or perhaps because of) Uncle Sam's help, almost no company that actually needed a loan was able to get one from a private lender at decent rates.

In fact, those that could get money at all were forced to pay outrageous interest for the privilege. General Electric, for instance, is paying Berkshire Hathaway 10% on its preferred shares, and GE had to sweeten the pot with warrants to get its rate that low.

And GE is a profitable industrial titan -- once the world's largest company -- which, even after its downgrade, still sports an impressive AA+ debt rating. When a company like that needed to dilute its shares to get a loan at double-digit rates, you know the credit market was tight. Although it was difficult and expensive, GE could borrow the cash it needed to operate. But not everyone is so lucky.

Who's the most at risk?

The credit market remains tricky. And in a tricky credit environment, companies that can't either roll over their debt, or pay their debt and operate with what they have, are in danger of going under.

But with the possible exception of law firms that handle bankruptcies, nearly every company is feeling the pain of this economic downturn. So how can you tell whether a company is struggling just like everyone else -- or about to fail?

These three signs should make you sit up and take notice:
• A substantial amount of debt -- given this credit market, a company with significant debt that it can't pay off is a huge risk for shareholders.
• A negative tangible book value -- which means that its total worth is tied up in its brands, its goodwill, and its ability to generate cash, leaving nothing physical to borrow against.
• Negative earnings -- which means that it hasn't recently been able to run its business profitably.

When you put all three of those high-risk signs together, you get companies like these:
Penn National Gaming (Nasdaq: PENN)
Debt: $2.44 BILLION...........

Anonymous said...

Penn National Gaming has grown very quickly and has a very aggressive expansion schedule in Maryland (one new casino) and Ohio (two new casinos), the Catskills and other locations. There must be a question mark over the company's management to handle this aggressive growth strategy, particularly in this current market.

It is a fair question to ask if this company is a pack of cards. Having $2.4 billion of debt is not good for a company like this in this market neither.

Anonymous said...

About Penn National Gaming

Penn National Gaming owns and operates gaming and racing facilities with a focus on slot machine entertainment. The Company presently operates nineteen facilities in fifteen jurisdictions, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario. In aggregate, Penn National’s operated facilities feature over 26,300 gaming machines, approximately 400 table games, over 2,000 hotel rooms and over 959,000 square feet of gaming floor space.

In the second half of 2010, the Company plans to add table games to its facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and expects to open the first video lottery terminal facility in the state of Maryland in Cecil County. Through a joint venture, Penn National is developing a full casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, which is anticipated to open in early 2012, and is also developing casinos in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, with openings targeted for the second half of 2012.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Penn National has a lot on its plate. This expansion will take a lot of capital expenditure. Good luck to them. However glad they did not secure Aqueduct otherwise we might be holding our breadth on their ability to perform.