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01 July 2008

Thank heavens for David Paterson

The day he was sworn in as New York's governor, I immediately realized there was something very special about David A. Paterson. Despite his limitations with vision, he has an incredible sense of humor — and an incredible sense of honor to be serving as the state's governor.

So when we learned this week the World Trade Center rebuilding project was moving along at a snail's pace — you'd have to be living in a cave not to realize this though — and when he demanded answers as to why it was taking so long, and when he demanded to know how long it was really going to take and cost, I wasn't the least bit surprised.

You see, David Paterson isn't like his predecessor. He's not like Gov. Jon S. Corzine. He's not like Jim McGreevey. He's not like the weasel we now know as George Pataki. No, folks, he's not like any of these men. Because he's shown, in a small period of time, what it means to be a true leader, what it means to have honor, what it means to be truthful with the people — something none of the aforementioned men know at all.

Paterson was disgusted to learn the project at Ground Zero is well behind schedule and above budget. And yet, unlike Pataki and company, instead of giving a half-ass excuse, instead of standing before a podium making excuses for the builders, the Port Authority and any others responsible for this mess, Paterson stood up, said this is unacceptable — and demanded ... that's right folks, demanded ... accountability.

For the first time in memory, a sitting governor demanded to know how it's possible this happened. He demanded to know how Pataki allowed all of this bureaucratic crap to transpire for years.

And I don't know if there's anything more refreshing than this from a political standpoint.

It's nauseating to think that when the United States of America pauses to remember the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, there won't be a permanent memorial built to recall the lives tragically lost that awful day.

And David Paterson isn't pleased.

He shouldn't be.

Earlier today, I spoke with my dear friend and colleague on this site, Sean McDonald. He told me of his journey to Manhattan today and the time he spent, in transit, near Ground Zero. He, too, couldn't believe what he saw. Nor could he believe what he heard.

While he stood looking at the site, he noticed a group of tourists who clearly didn't know what was going on with the site. He says the mom in the group said: "Wonder when they'll rebuild here?"

Sean's response to me was priceless. He said: "You know, I wish George Pataki was standing somewhere close by. I would have gone up to the family and told them to ask him that very same question."


Because Pataki truly and apparently could care less — nor did he ever care — about what happens at the World Trade Center. If he did, would we be in this mess right now? Would we be struck with the realization it'll be perhaps 11, 12, 13, 14 years after the attacks before a memorial is built? What does Pataki care? He's getting his $10K a speech on the speaking tour.

Sean and I also discussed what it's like to lose a relative. Both of us have had too much experience with these things. It hit me: Imagine if any of us had lost a relative, and the cemetery caretaker told us we'd have to wait 13 years before we were able to put up a headstone.

We wouldn't have it.

Yet George Pataki, for the hundreds of people whose remains were never identified, and whose final resting place is Ground Zero, allowed something similar to happen by ensuring it'd be more than a decade before a memorial was built at the site.

Disgraceful, George. Disgraceful. How can you look at yourself in a mirror and be proud of anything good you accomplished as New York's governor? Because as good as the good things were, this one bad element trumps it all — and I mean everything.

Yet in the same breath, it's comforting to know we've got someone who truly does care in David Paterson.

Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that it took a governor who made it into office by fate.

Perhaps we'll learn from the mistakes of the likes of George Pataki, and do whatever it takes never to elect him — or anyone like him — to public office ever again.

Then, folks, and only then, will any kind of justice be served.

I defy you to tell me — or the relatives of a 9/11 victim — otherwise.


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