Stein Murder Twist; Albany Latest

Behind The News
March 25, 2008 1:04:03 PM PDT
So much for the honeymoon.Was it only a week ago that David Paterson was sworn in as Governor of New York? Sworn in as the antidote of the bitterness and acrimony that came to be the modus operandi of the once-promising stewardship of Eliot Spitzer? Sworn in with a lot of blather about how Spitzer's opponents were now ready to make nice with the new guy?

Well that didn't last long.

Part of it is because of Paterson himself - he apparently can't help himself, and has, whenever he's asked, a tendency towards true confessions. Last night he had his latest episode -- saying he had tried marijuana and cocaine when he was in his early 20's, which was 30 years ago. Hello? Is that breaking news? Man in his early 20's in the 1970's tries marijuana and cocaine. Stop the presses? I think not. (Paterson says he already made public his youthful drug experimentation when he ran for Lt. Gov. -- but no one was paying attention then.)

But make no mistake, there are many who are gunning for the state's first black and first legally blind chief executive. Gunning hard.

The latest investigation is raising questions about Paterson's stays at hotel rooms in Albany -- stays he insisted were required because of early-morning meetings in the capital that made it difficult for him to commute in from the suburbs. But his calendar apparently doesn't bear out some of those meetings. And a paper in Albany is reporting that, also staying at the hotel during some of those days, was the woman Paterson acknowledged was once his mistress. He claims they broke off the affair years ago.

In addition, the Albany paper reports about a Hillary Clinton campaign trip to South Carolina last October, billed as state business. Also supposedly staying at the hotel - his former mistress.

Just one problem, a big problem: state expense records for Paterson and the woman, a state employee, list nothing about a trip to South Carolina in October. There is an overlapping trip to Carolina in Puerto Rico for an event. But that's in November. And who knows if they were together?

It turns my stomach to even write all this. But it was Paterson, an amazingly charming and inspirational guy, who raised these issues. His true confessions tour that began last week may come back to haunt him; he had thought it would clear the air, but it seems to have done the opposite, and has made his first week in office rather murky.

You have to wonder about those who are going after Paterson. Unless he's broken the law, and that seems not likely at least for now, what's the purpose of all this?

There are some skeptics who look at the succession order - and see that State Senator Joe Bruno would be next in line to finish up the unfinished term through 2010. Bruno, Spitzer's main political opponent, is himself under investigation for financial wrongdoing, and is one tough politician. He has mouthed support for Paterson, but politics is politics, so who knows?

What a soap opera it's become up in Albany. We'll have the latest episode, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're following remarkable developments in the murder of Linda Stein, the so-called realtor to the stars. Her personal assistant is under arrest for the murder -- remember she supposedly confessed last year, and said Stein had blown marijuana smoke in her face and that set her off?

No marijuana was found in Stein's bloodstream, and now the medical examiner says a man's DNA has been found in a mixture of blood in Stein's sink. A man, not a woman.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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