Paterson's future

March 1, 2010 1:59:29 PM PST
The world may seem unstable, with plates deep below the surface writhing and shaking and moving, and, if we're to believe the scientists, having us lose 1.26 microseconds a day (that's 1.26 millionths of a second to you and me; so don't go wasting any more time!). The economy is still tanking, tens of millions still have no health care, and we've been battered by the largest monthly total of snow in New York City ever. So the political fate of New York Gov. David Paterson may not rank terribly high on the importance scale for most people. Why should it, compared to paying bills, saving for the kids' education, keeping your job, etc. etc. blah blah blah?

But political wonks and aficionados are having something of a mental field day playing the "what if" game - and ruminating whether Mr. Paterson will be able to stay in office through the end of his term. That would have been the end of Eliot Spitzer's term, if he hadn't abruptly resigned in a sex scandal.

My, oh, my, what a long, tortured four years this has been.

There is a growing chorus of players suggesting that Paterson resign. Not sure what the governor's incentive to do that would be, although being such a lame duck might be one pretty good reason.

And if he does step down, who's in charge? Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, whose appointment is constitutionally questionable in the minds of some politicos? That would create a not-so-nice little crisis in Albany - to put alongside the virtual shutdown last June when two Democratic State Senators decided their feelings were hurt and shifted to the Republican side for a while, throwing government into chaos.

Meanwhile, Paterson insists he's not stepping down. Of course, last week he insisted he wouldn't get out of the race. Two days later he did.

We'll have the latest on Mr. Paterson's future, tonight at 11.

And we'd like to hear what you think about it. Please CLICK HERE to tell us if you think Paterson can effectively govern the state and if he should stay in office.

We'll also have the latest from Chile, where the death toll from Saturday's 8.8 magnitude earthquake is now at 723 and climbing. President Michelle Bachelet says the aftermath is now "an emergency without parallel in Chile's history." Some coastal towns got a one-two punch - first the earthquake, then the tsunami, which, according to the AP wire, "carried whole houses inland, and crushed others into piles of sticks."

The Chilean government, which at first seemed to wave out any kind of outside relief efforts, has since changed its tune. Now, it's asking the U.S. for immediate assistance with field hospitals, generators, satellite phones, salt water purification systems, tents and rescue teams. We'll have the latest on the calamity there, at 11.

And our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer has a disturbing look at what some New York cops say is an obsession by superiors with keeping crime statistics down. Jim's report details how cops on the streets are under relentless pressure to make more arrests and dish out summonses - all to show headquarters they have a tight grip on neighborhoods.

The quotas, according to Jim's report: One arrest and 20 summonses per month.

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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