Archive for the ‘David Paterson’ Category

I was on Twitter, that bane of some people’s existence, this week, when someone online recommended that I follow David Paterson. He’s the governor of my state of New York, so I thought: why not?

What’s interesting is that his site is GovPaterson2010, and goes back at least to mid-April 2009, which suggests that he was thinking about re-election way back then. At the same time, it looks like a site that someone governing would have, talking a lot about the stimulus money. A mixed message, I think.

To confuse the issue, there IS a site GovPaterson, which discusses Paterson’s son’s arrest quite a bit recently. Evidently it’s not the REAL site, because it’s followed by only one party: GovPaterson2010.

So who else IS David Paterson following, on that roster of 222 people? A number of politicians, of course, from the verified White House and Barack Obama sites to the likewise verified sites for the governors of Massachusetts and California.

Mayor of Albany Jerry Jennings tweets though not since before the 2009 general election. I found remnants of Jim Tedesco’s failed congressional race, as well as follows of former presidential candidates such as Al Sharpton and Bill Richardson.

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s verified site has over 1700 followers but she follows no one. Meanwhile, US Senator Chuck Schumer’s first and last tweet is: “Just joined Twitter!” (5:02 PM Nov 19th, 2008); gotta work on that, Chuck.

Governor Paterson uses a number of news sources, including CNN Breaking News, The Huffington Post, WNYT (NBC-TV affiliate Channel 13 in Albany), Albany News, All Over Albany, The Daily Beast, The Hill (congressional newspaper), Glenn Greenwald, Stephen Colbert, and the verified account of ABC News’ Chris Cuomo, the brother of the state’s Attorney General; speculation suggests Andrew Cuomo may challenge Paterson in a primary for governor.

David Paterson follows the Working Families Party, an actual political party in NYS. I’m trying to remember: did Eliot Spitzer and Paterson get their endorsement in 2006? Other interests include grassroots politics, state history, gay rights and women’s health.

There are three celebrities being followed, the latter two verified: Star Jones, Esquire, former host of the TV show The View, Joy Behar, current host of The View, and household goddess Martha Stewart.

How does who you follow on Twitter reflect on you?
ROG

Queries from veteran Roger queriers,

First up is the noble Scott:

Is there a team you are rooting for to win the Super Bowl?

Besides the Giants, who just don’t deserve it this year (41-9 loss to Carolina yesterday?), gotta be the Saints. Partly it a parochial hope that a Super Bowl appearance will once again point out the aftermath of Katrina and how much is yet undone in the recovery. Also, can’t help but think it would give the city a real boost; they’ve already postponed some Mardi Gras events in anticipation of getting to the big game. And yes, I thought losing to the Cowboys was probably a good thing; get the loss out of their system. (So naturally they lose to Tampa Bay yesterday.) The perfect season was a curse for the Patriots a couple seasons back, so the loss to the Jets – who are still in playoff contention – theoretically will help the Colts. Or not.

What is your favorite Christmas family tradition?

I’m still grasping at any kind of tradition. We had a tree the last three years, but not the previous two. What we eat varies; this year it was lasagna! And while I sing on Christmas Eve, it’s hardly a FAMILY tradition, since my wife and daughter weren’t there. In fact, I didn’t see my daughter at all on Christmas Eve, though I did talk with her twice on the phone. The tree decorations I used to have seem to have disappeared. So it’s not so much tradition; it’s jazz improv, and it’s all good.

Do you do a lot of decorating inside and outside your house for the holidays?

Outside, not at all. Inside, the Christmas cards – and we got a LOT of Christmas cards this year, more than ever – go around the entryway to our living room. In fact we had so many, we put a few on the other side, the entryway back into the hallway. There’s the tree. There’s red garland on the railing heading upstairs. We do have a creche.

The daughter constructed a snowman from paper, which we hung up. She also made some drawings that got put around the house.

What Christmas gift made the most lasting impression on you?

That would be the Beatles in Mono box set that I got in…2009. It wasn’t just that I got the music; it was something I wanted and Santa delivered that singular package that was more than Santa is inclined to spend on a one item.

What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?

Seriously, a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army); I played with that forever and STILL turned out as a pacifist. Tom Hanks got one as a kid, he once told Leno.

Although the family getting a color TV in 1969, when I was 16, was huge, too; we literally saw the world in a different way. Watching the Wizard of Oz the next year, in particular, was a revelation; a “horse of a different color”, indeed.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Roger!

You too, Scott.

The best of the west, western NYS, that is, Jaquandor asks:

Do you cook? If so, what? Do you have a favorite ethnic cuisine? If so, what?

I did cook. And I was functional, not inspirational, at things like chicken. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, Carol’s better at it, and I get home close to 6:30 pm. I tend to make eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, grilled cheese sandwiches, those kinds of things on the weekends.

My favorite ethnic cuisine is lasagna, which I used to make in the winter, though the recent Christmas meal in fact was made by the wife and mother-in-law; I shredded the mozzarella. I also used to bake, but likewise Carol’s more ept and I, rather inept. Damn, I just remember a time I confused baking powder with baking soda in a pancake recipe; it was AWFUL.

And do you have a strong opinion one way or the other on Governor Paterson?

Notice that David Paterson’s positives have gone from the low 20s to the mid 30s. Still not great, and still losing to Andrew Cuomo by 40 points, should the attorney general run in a primary against him. But perhaps there is a recognition that he’s at least TRYING to balance the budget, whereas the state legislature is unable/unwilling to. I wonder if those television ads, like this one are having an effect.

I have a question for you; do you think those Saturday Night Live parodies hurt him with the electorate? I’ve been under the impression that the NYS voters and SNL watchers are not that linked, but I could be wrong.

I can/do argue with some of his choices; his cuts to education and libraries seem particularly short-sighted. But I haven’t written him off politically, especially if Rick Lazio, who ran a TERRIBLE campaign against Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate race in 2000, turns out to be the GOP nominee, rather than Rudy Giuliani.

ROG

Jaquandor of Byzantium Shores, the finest blogger in western New York AND a fashionista ahead of the curve, asks these questions:

Does David Paterson know what he’s doing?

More often than he’s given credit for, I think. On his Day 1, he’s all funny and charming. On Day 2, he admits that both he and his wife were unfaithful, a brilliant move designed to make sure the state was not suddenly surprised by another sex scandal after Eliot Spitzer’s downfall. It was a calculated risk that worked.

He was right to note the fiscal disaster the state was going to be suffering after the Wall Street collapse, as it affected our state disproportionally; not only was the state heavily invested, but a lot of New Yorkers lost their jobs on Wall Street in the market meltdown. Of course, the state, unlike the federal government, cannot operate in a deficit, so cutbacks and layoffs were inevitable. Part of Paterson’s problem is that he was bearer of bad news.

He was also stifled by the second most dysfunctional state legislature in the country – I’m convinced California’s is worse – and threw a Hail Mary by picking his own lieutenant governor in order to break the state Senate deadlock. I found and read the state constitution and decided that the lower court was right; that picking his own replacement, essentially, was beyond the scope of the emergency powers he was citing. I thought they would be used in cases where the legislature was wiped out by war or disaster that the state couldn’t be allowed to flounder. Apparently, the Court of Appeals (which, for you non-New Yorkers, is the state’s highest court) decided that the gridlock that took place for a month beginning June 8 WAS enough of an emergency that picking his own lt gov WAS kosher. So kudos to him.

Now, he royally messed up the appointment of Hillary Clinton’s replacement for the US Senate. Don’t know what that whole Caroline Kennedy dance was. But while Kirsten Gillibrand was not a popular choice downstate at the time, notice how her primary opposition has melted away.

This is not to say that I’ve agreed with all of his decisions. His unilateral decision NOT to tax the rich more, lest they leave the state, seemed tone deaf to me.

So his abysmally low poll numbers surprise me a bit. There is a local public radio force named Alan Chartock of WAMC who believes part of his problem is him being characterized as a bumbler on Saturday Night Live a few times, much the same way that Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Gerald Ford established the President as clumsy. There was a poll a while back (Siena or Marist College ran it) that said that 7% of the population felt negative towards Paterson because of how SNL portrayed him. Wow, didn’t think that SNL still had that much pull, outside of Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin last year.

I’ll be curious how he does on Meet the Press today, rerun on other NBC networks during the week. You KNOW that David Gregory has to ask him about the report that the Obama people didn’t want him running for governor in 2010, which would not come from legitimate channels right before the President visited the Capital District on Monday.

Photo by John Hebert

To what degree is the eBook the way of the future? (I assume we all grant that there will be eBooks, but how much will they take over?)

Actually, I’ll ask you this, since you read and watch science fiction: do you EVER see people reading books or newspapers in the futuristic portrayals? I don’t recall any.

I think more the question is how much will paper products stick around? There were a couple pieces in Entertainment Weekly recently – pretty sure Stephen King was one of them – that discussed the visceral pleasure of the book – how it feels in the hand, how it smells, how it is laid out, how you can fan the pages to create a breeze (I’m doing this from memory and may have made up that last one) – that the electronic equivalent can NEVER replicate.

There’s a private high school in New England that in 2009 got rid of all of its books, replaced by eBooks. The headmistress said that the students were thriving. If experiences like that “take”, then the books will become like vinyl records; they’ll still be around, but marginalized. Conversely, if there is a pushback from educators who say our kids NEED the actual manipulation of pages – and, IMO, they do – then the flow will be stemmed, though not stopped.

Of course, eBooks might be replaced by something else – remember how ubiquitous the VCR used to be? – are replaced by some sort of computer chip that goes directly into our brains.

There are, by my rough estimation, about fifty thousand books about the Beatles. Can you recommend a couple, to help narrow it all down?

You are a relative newbie to the Fabs, so I’d start with The Beatles by Hunter Davies, one of the first. It’s pretty thorough without overwhelming (e.g., the Beatles Anthology), though ends before the end of the group, if I remember correctly. Beyond that, it would depend on what you’re really interested in: their songwriting, the recording techniques, their lives, Beatlemania. Many dismiss Philip Norman book Shout! as anti-Paul, but few doubt his thoroughness and it’s a good read; he has a newer book I haven’t read that seems to be better received. Peter Brown’s The Love You Make is “an insider’s story”, and is interesting at that level. There’s a relatively recent book Can’t Buy Me Love that has reviewed really well, but I haven’t actually read.

My personal favorite, actually, is The Beatles: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr & Tony Tyler. It was about the recordings, and it was at the point where I (thought I ) knew everything about them, but I was basing my knowledge on the US LPs I bought; this book totally upended my understanding. But now the CDs are out in the “British” order, so it wouldn’t have the same effect, I imagine.

I’d love to hear the opinions of sages such as Fred Hembeck and Johnny Bacardi on this topic.

Rebecca from 40 Forever, who is intelligent, attractive and personable – naturally she’s a librarian – asks:

How many guitars are in Rochester’s famous House of Guitars?

37,326.

Actually, the website says “it’s home to an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 guitars and 4 million albums, CDs and tapes.”

Meant to get to Scott’s questions, but I still feel not great and I may be the healthiest of the three of us. Certainly feeling better than the wife, who took a three-hour nap yesterday. Anyway, Scott, before the end of the month. as the J5 title goes, “Maybe tomorrow.”

I find myself thinking a lot about Natasha Richardson, which is strange because, unprompted by IMBD, I couldn’t tell you one thing I’d seen her in; Nell and the remake of The Parent Trap, as it turns out. Whereas I know about lots of films in which I saw her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, or her husband, Liam Neeson.

Besides the strange way she died, there’s that weird argument that always seems to happen when a famous person passes away. In the comments to this nice article in Salon, one person essentially hijacks the issue with “Aren’t there more important things in the world to worry about?” Lots of back-and-forth that you can read yourselves. Or not.

My feeling is that if someone is uninterested in a “celebrity death”, then he/she oughtn’t to pay attention. But it’s one thing to say, “I don’t care.” It’s quite another to say, “And you shouldn’t either.” People should be allowed to grieve even those they’ve never met, yet because of their artistry or personality or for whatever reason, has moved them in some way. Their loss is real.

And invariably, the death of a celebrity shines a light on the cause of said death, if it’s unusual. (“Wear a helmet when skiing!” “No, it’s too restricting to see and hear properly.”)

I felt the same way when Jennifer Hudson lost three family members to murder. There were those who offered, “People are murdered all the time in Chicago. Why should I care about THIS?” I say: by all means, please don’t. But offer not your analysis about “the celebrity culture”, as though others might not be moved by the American Idol/Dreamgirls performer’s situation. Besides, even in the Windy City, a triple homicide is not an everyday occurrence.
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Looks as though I’ll still have Dora the Explorer to deal with:
The daughter would normally “age out” of Dora in a year or two. But now that the daughter has dubbed the tween explorer as “beautiful”, I guess I’ll be stuck with her for a little while longer. Why they just didn’t come up with an older cousin so that the original Dora could entertain the younger crowd, I just don’t know.
***
I found this background for a seminar interesting.
In June 2008, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-61, new copyright legislation that closely followed the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The public response to the bill was both immediate and angry – tens of thousands of Canadians wrote to the Minister and their local Members of Parliament, leading to town hall meetings, negative press coverage, and the growing realization that copyright was fast becoming a mainstream political and policy issue.

The “Canadian copy-fight”, which includes many new advocacy groups and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group that has over 90,000 members, has attracted considerable attention from the mainstream media, with many wondering how copyright had emerged as a contentious policy issue.

So the Canadians are having as much trouble with expanding the copyright law as some Americans did a decade ago, including (need I say) me.
***
There’s an online petition to save Proctor’s Theater in Troy, NY from demolition. Apparently, the current plan is to “save the facade” and tack on behind it some ugly badly-built auditorium. The rest of the beautiful building is to end up in the already overloaded landfill in Albany County.

Frankly, I’m not big on online petitions. Frankly, I doubt their efficacy, especially when the signatories include people who are not constituents of the officials taking an action. But the real audience is not so much the folks who run Troy City Hall as it is Governor Paterson. “The city of Troy is applying for a grant from New York State to demolish the theater. The petition to Governor Paterson is asking him to grant money for the renovation of the theater, not its destruction.

“The theater was built in 1914 and remains the last existing grand movie palace in Troy. While the building is in disrepair, it does not need to be torn down. In 1979 Proctor’s was placed on National Register of Historic Places – but this distinction may not save it from the wrecking ball.”

Anyway, I add my name here because, in some minuscule way, I helped with the renovation of Proctor’s in Schenectady in the late 1970s by selling ads and performing in the arcade for an April 1978 fundraiser. It’s also the building I worked in for nearly 11 months. Here’s a picture of Proctor’s Schenectady – Troy’s is similar though now in disrepair – but, as the petitioner noted, “with vision and leadership it can look like this again!”

Friday was a happening day politically in the Capital District of New York state. On one hand, there was descent. A federal grand jury indicted former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno on felony charges alleging he used his elected position to extract $3.2 million in private consulting fees from clients who sought to use his influence. Joe, who represented an area east of Albany for a number of years has his name on the relatively new minor league ballpark in Troy, among other things. I freely admit to experiencing a bit of schadenfreude over his fall, and it’s based on a connection I’m just not going to get into just now; maybe someday.

The other story was an ascent, one you might have heard about, even out of state or out of country: Gov. David Paterson picked Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate, succeeding Hillary Clinton, who resigned after her confirmation as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. One of the out-of-town headlines read: “Little-known, pro-gun Democrat gets Clinton’s Senate seat.” I thought it was unfairly reductivist, so for the benefit of those of you not the Albany area, a primer.

The Congressional District east and south of Albany, currently the 20th, was gerrymandered to sustain a Republican member of Congress. While the adjoining 20th (where I live) contains the Democratic-leaning cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, the vast 20th, largely rural and small towns was a GOP delight. The Congressman there for 20 years was the late Gerald Solomon, who was very conservative. He was succeeded in 1999 by John Sweeney, similarly conservative – he helped George W. Bush in Florida in 2000 – but a bit of a party animal. He was seen as drinking at a college frat house, e.g.

Still, when Kirsten Gillibrand challenged Sweeney in 2006, she was not given much of a chance to defeat him, such was the nature of the district. Then there were allegations of possible spousal abuse in the Sweeney household. This probably sealed the seat for Gillibrand.

The best time to knock off an incumbent is after his or her first term in office. The GOP candidate in 2008 against Kirsten Gillibrand was Sandy Treadwell, who is quite wealthy. I started seeing his ads – it’s the same media market – months before I saw hers. Yet she won the general election with 62% of the vote.

A successful Democrat in a conservative district, who was able to do some meaningful fundraising, became one of the front runners for the Clinton seat. Here’s a dichotomy in the narrative. When Gov. Paterson announced her at the press conference, he said that she was picked because she was best qualified, not because she was a woman or from upstate. Yet Gillibrand’s new Senate colleague, Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn said at that same press conference that it was important that the selection be a woman because there are only 16 women in the Senate. He added that it was also important that the candidate be from upstate, something that hasn’t happened in 38 years, because upstaters can speak better to the needs of upstaters. (I discussed the odd, complicated upstate/downstate tension here.)

Kirsten Gillibrand is no wide-eyed liberal, but she’s no hick. My wife suggested I not write this, but write it I must: she’s no Sarah Palin. She’s descended from political royalty in these parts, She received her first experiences in Albany politics from her grandmother, the legendary “Polly” Noonan. City of Albany politics, because it’s been one party for so long, engenders a certain conservativeness, a complaint about Gillibrand that she attempted to quell.

“I will represent the many diverse views and voices of New York state,” said Gillibrand, adding that she would work with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, a Long Island Democrat who has criticized Gillibrand’s A rating from the National Rifle Association. “I will look for ways to find common ground between upstate and downstate.” On December 7, 1993, McCarthy’s husband Dennis and five others were killed, and her son Kevin and 18 others wounded on a Long Island Railroad commuter train by Colin Ferguson.

The New York Immigration Coalition also suggested now-Senator Gillibrand must reconsider her positions on immigration. During her tenure in the House, Representative Gillibrand took positions on immigration that are deeply troubling, to say the least. She sponsored legislation that sought to require local police officers to take on immigration enforcement duties, even though police chiefs have testified it would impair their ability to protect the public. She strongly supported throwing more resources toward ineffective border enforcement, but appeared to oppose any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Simply put, these are positions that put her at odds with the majority of New Yorkers, whose values reflect our state’s history of welcoming immigrants, as well as with President Barack Obama, who supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

I could be wrong, but I think, as a statewide representative, she’ll be more liberal, if only because she’ll have to be to get the nomination. On the very day Gillibrand was named to the Senate seat, Carolyn McCarthy vowed to challenge Gillibrand, directly or indirectly, in the 2010 Democratic primary. The seat will also require candidates in 2012, when Senator Clinton’s term would have been up.

Here’s an interesting perspective in the New York Times about the whole process of naming Hillary Clinton’s successor:
Now that Gov. David Paterson of New York has completed his operatic quest to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat and Roland Burris, chosen by the embattled Illinois governor to succeed Barack Obama, has made it past Capitol Hill security, we can safely conclude that appointing senators might not be such a good idea.

Actually, Americans came to that conclusion in 1913, when the 17th Amendment mandated regular senatorial elections…

The very problems the amendment was meant to address persist. Consider this: Nearly a quarter of the United States senators who have taken office since the 17th Amendment took effect have done so via appointment. Once Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, Mr. Paterson’s choice, joins the Senate, she will be one of more than 180 senators named by governors since 1913.

By contrast, the Constitution mandates special elections for all vacancies in the House — even though representatives are far less powerful than senators.

Yet only a handful of states routinely fill vacated Senate seats by special election. The result is a tyranny of appointments.

Not so incidentally, the race for the Gillibrand House seat will have at least three well-known Republicans, including the wealthy Sandy Treadwell, whose ads netted him 150,000 votes in 2008, but only a couple unknown Democrats. The seat will almost certainly go back to the Republican column. It may be better for Gov. Paterson, who’s up for election in 2010, to have an upstate woman on the ticket running with him than to worry about one House seat. Moreover, New York will lose one, maybe two Congressional seats in 2012, after the 2010 Census, and the map, drawn by the state legislature, currently controlled in both houses by the Democrats, might well gerrymander the district out of existence.

ROG

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