Today we’re running a guest column from Michael Alan, a freshman in Cornell’s school of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Michael is a contributor to the Cornell Review, and hails from Lewisburg, PA.

The Albany Times-Union reported last week that the records from NY Governor David Paterson’s nearly three year stint in office would be housed at Cornell University, bypassing the New York State Archives thanks to Paterson’s veto of a bill that would have required him and subsequent governors to keep their records in Albany for the public to examine.

Paterson’s records will make their way to Ithaca along with a $250,000 grant to the University, whereas State Archivist Christine Ward said the documents could have been held at the State Archives “at no additional cost to the taxpayer.” Why house the records in Ithaca, then? The Governor is negotiating a deal with Cornell to keep his records from being released to the public for as long as twenty years, something neither the State Archivist nor advocates of transparency on both sides of the aisle are happy about.

So, with Governor Paterson being so secretive about his time in office and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s January 1st inauguration only a few short days away, it seems like a good time to look back on Paterson’s tenure and try to figure out what Paterson may be trying to hide from the public and why New Yorkers, even in this past November’s wave election that had six House seats from NY flip to the GOP, continue to send corrupt Democrats to Albany year after year:
  • The week he was sworn in as Governor and immediately following the revelations about Governor Eliot “Client #9” Spitzer, Paterson admitted to illegally using campaign funds as Minority Leader of the State Senate for rendezvous with his mistress at a Manhattan Days Inn.
  • In October of last year, Paterson attended the opening game of the World Series using tickets he did not pay for. On Monday, the State Commission on Public Integrity fined Paterson $62,125 for taking the tickets and concluded that the Governor lied under oath when he claimed he intended to pay for them.
  • In January of this year, Paterson awarded a state contract to develop the Aqueduct horse race track in Queens to the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, whose ownership includes a former Congressman whose political support Paterson was courting when he was still considering running for a full term as Governor, close Paterson ally and rapper Jay-Z, and convicted felon Darryl Green, who plead guilty in 1999 to charges that he stole $500,000 in government funds appropriated to affirmative action hiring.

Professor Jacobson praised Paterson in 2009 when the Governor said that a “tax the rich” approach to fiscal policy wasn’t good for New York State. Since then, however, Paterson has governed using a “tax everyone” approach. In addition to Paterson’s income tax increase in 2009, the Governor has signed into law new taxes on everything from cigarettes to utilities. Ironically, Paterson has simultaneously proposed an 18% “obesity tax” on soda and energy drinks and a 4% on “personal services” that include weight loss clubs and gyms.

All of this makes me wonder why a Democrat who served in Albany beside Governor Paterson was handed such an easy thirty point victory in November. Was it because of, as the media suggests, the popularity of the Cuomo family name and Carl Paladino’s many gaffes in dealing with the media? Or have New Yorkers simply become so used to the Democratic stranglehold on power in their state that they don’t bother questioning it anymore? I’m not so cynical as to suggest that Cuomo will be met with the same lack of accountability Paterson received from his constituents, but the fact that New Yorkers elected another Democrat by such a large margin after suffering through four years of Spitzer/Paterson doesn’t give me much hope.

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