I am very disappointed in David Paterson. Our governor broke the rules he is supposed to uphold. More than that, he had an opportunity to be a leader. He has failed.
I thought nothing could be worse than the past. Just to remind everyone, we just came out of the "client #9" fiasco. Eliot Spitzer resigned with his wife on his arm. He very successfully humiliated himself and his state due to his very public infidelity. We learned very early on that David Paterson had some skeletons in his closet, but he very smartly addressed it immediately. We all thought he could move on to governing.
David Paterson should be someone I could be proud of, right? Now, he's potentially obstructed justice in a case of violence against women.
Less than two years ago, I thought I had just what I was looking for in my very own governor of New York State. David Paterson took the oath of office, and we all saw (no pun intended) that he is visually impaired. People were whispering around the state capital about how amazing it was - he had memorized his whole speech. People with disabilities in Albany started to think that David Paterson might be that leader, that leader.
I fell into the same trap, I saw that leader. Here was the person with a physical disability that I could emulate. My state was governed by a successful person - visually impaired or not! This governor would do so much for soldiers coming back with amputations, and parents of children with autism. Our muddle of state government agencies serving developmental and physical disabilities would have a strong advocate! Wow, how proud I was to be New York State citizen.
I've waited my whole life for a political leader with a visible physical disability to be someone that people can look up to. Franklin Roosevelt's polio is discussed in many history books, but it was never discussed at the time. It was hidden from the general public. I was lucky enough to see Bob Dole as a young high school student, but Sen. Dole shied away from discussing his physical disability. I have always felt people with disabilities need someone. We need a role model.
It has been a rocky 18 months. Gov. Paterson is not particularly well-liked in New York State. His 20 percent approval rating will definitely not win him many popularity contests. Within a week of announcing his candidacy for governor, he stepped out of the race. He has become a political cartoon. Ironically, it was a caricature of himself that he was upset with, but he's done nothing to prove himself a worthy leader.
Our state is in a financial mess, our bridges and roads are falling apart and our treatment of New York citizens at an all-time low. And what happens? The governor stands in the way of someone saying that they were physically abused. Domestic violence! It has been reported that a woman was physically abused and our state police are used by the governor to stop the investigation. Another earth shattering, groundbreaking, press stopping New York State government scandal.
In September 2009, Gov. Paterson signed legislation strengthening laws against domestic violence. From his own press release he is quoted:
"Stopping domestic violence should be a national priority, and I am encouraged that New York is leading the way in giving law enforcement and the courts the tools they need to end abuse," Governor Paterson said. "I am proud to sign legislation designed to provide a strong response to domestic violence and to protect those that have suffered from abuse..."
I expected too much. After the first press reports when the then Lieutenant Governor David Paterson admitted to "personal failings," I realized he wasn't going to stop his behavior. I hoped he would be upfront about his failings. I just didn't expect someone so willing to look past helping individuals in need, including those close to him.