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Paterson reflects on his tenure

4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.

Paterson got a taste of "editorial cronyism" in February of this year when rumors circulated that the New York Times had a story about his involvement in a scandal--similar to his predecessor Elliot Spitzer--that supposedly included both womanizing and drug use. The so called "paper of record" never released a story substantiating the rumors, but the rumors swirled around the press, peaking last February with gossip that Paterson was going to be forced to resign. On reflection, Paterson says he would have handled it differently.

"What I should have done was the opposite," he said. "I should have lured the media in, not answer any questions and made it look like it was true and gotten on stage and said, 'Good morning, if you are looking for a resignation you are looking for the wrong office. The reason you are here isn't because of any facts or legitimate sources. You are here because of a bunch of lies, innuendo and made-up stories. So because you wasted the trip, I will give you a story: I'm running for reelection.'"

Even after the rumors proved to be false, Paterson continued to get beaten up by the white-controlled media. Paterson said that most of the stories written about him were for profit instead of personal. Referred to as the "accidental governor," he said that his race did play a role in his treatment.

"It's the first elevation of an African-American to a major post in public service in this country. To me this confirmed backlash in diversity. If you are elected, there's nothing anyone can say--but this little blind Black person became governor, and no one knows who he is, and he's probably just a political hack who they put on the ticket to get some Black votes. I was treated as someone who was not serious," he said.

Being Black played a role in several of his accomplishments as governor that ultimately benefited all racial groups, including better polices for MWBEs, reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws and stopping officers from being promoted because they successfully filled their stop-and-frisk quotas.

"These are remedies that wouldn't have existed if I hadn't become governor," he said. "I had to take a little heat to do it, but I did it with honor."

As far as the state budget is concerned, he admits that balancing it has hurt a lot of people, however, there's been more good than bad. For example, healthcare allocation for the poor was raised for the first time in 20 years, and food stamps and homeless shelters were expanded under his leadership. And true to form, Paterson received his harshest criticism from big media and their sycophant commentators when he taxed the rich.

"We did take actions that hurt people, but what we tried to do was to share the sacrifice. Twelve billion dollars would have been balanced on the backs of some people. The distance between the rich and the poor is the greatest it's ever been. The recession has been so deep that if you're unemployed, you don't really care if the rich are sacrificing, you are still sharing in the sacrifice," he said.