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The way it was supposed to work was that David Paterson would ride out his last days in office with something resembling statesmanlike respectability. At some point early next year, he’d take that sweet post at Columbia University, or maybe an ambassadorship in a sunny clime. The baton would pass to top deputy and acting-governor-in waiting Richard Ravitch. Everyone would then get things ready for the coming of Cuomo II. And that would be that.
But leave it to Paterson to screw up even his own one-car funeral. Thanks to the most ham-fisted World Series maneuver since a ground ball trickled through Bill Buckner’s legs – demanding freebie tickets from the Yankees, and then lying about it – Paterson will now be the subject of another agonizing ethics probe, one that’s sure to dog him right out the door in shame and (even more) ridicule.
First head-shaking question is how in the world the governor expected Yankees president Randy Levine to back up his claim that Levine had offered him the ducats a few days earlier at a CNBC show. Levine is a former deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani and he makes sure that his old boss gets those priceless, photo-op seats right next to the Yankees dugout every game. And while Giuliani is probably never going to run for governor he’d like people to think so for as long as possible, so he’s anxious to knock Paterson every chance he gets.
Levine wasted no time answering the Post’s Fred Dicker: “He’s a liar. I never talked to him.”
That’s not the way people used to talk about top state executives but Paterson’s stock is so low no one cares anymore.
Paterson then had hapless flack Peter Kauffman offer another easily rebuttable claim to Dicker: that it was Yankees COO Lonn Trost who offered the tix. Wrong again.
The saddest part of this tawdry little episode isn’t even the lies, but the letter Paterson had his chief counsel send over to the Yankees claiming the free seats for Paterson, his son and a pal, were for “official business.” This was someone’s brilliant idea of getting around the ban on accepting gifts. Yes, a written letter.
Who needs Chase Utley’s homers? The state’s Bumbler in Chief can beat New York all by himself.