Paterson's about face

May 12, 2010 1:04:11 PM PDT
Political deafness. That's clearly the affliction New York Gov. David Paterson has these days. How else to explain the how's and why's of the questionable decision to promote and give raises to a handful of his press office staffers?

It seems like Political Science 101 - if you're ordering 100,000 state workers to take an unpaid day off once a week, and then you don't give your staffers promotions and raises one day later.

Pretty basic stuff. Frame that scenario as a question on a politics-for-dummies test, and most people would consider that a gimme.

And what about his newly promoted press people? You think that one of them would say, "Excuse me Governor, but I'm not so sure this is a great idea. Maybe we should have our raises delayed a few months until this $9 billion budget gap mess is cleared up and we're not giving all state workers an involuntary 20% pay cut."

And you can imagine how the furloughed workers feel; all those people - and they cut across class lines - who suddenly find their paychecks slashed during a time of rising prices and higher taxes - seeing the Governor give his staffers a pay raise.

It's quite kosher, legally, for him to do this. The money's there, and, as his peeps point out, these people are getting new jobs with a higher pay grade to replace people who resigned rather than defend the Governor's actions. And, as they also say, his total office budget is about $300,000 lower than last year.

But it's the perception that'll kill you. And the Governor and his peeps just don't seem to understand that. Which is why Mr. Paterson, a likeable and wonderfully funny and otherwise smart guy, has, his critics say, turned out not to be a very wonderful Governor.

Clearly he's seen the error of his ways. Because today he came out and said he would delay giving these promoted staffers raises. Governor Paterson said it's because the unions are using the raises as ammo in their campaign against the furloughs. Well, duh!

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11. Also at 11, is the airline business turning the tide in the recession? An industry group says air travel this summer is expected to be up over last year - not by much, just 1%. But airlines are viewing this slight uptick as a positive sign.

Discounted fares may be one reason folks are taking to the skies once again. And tonight we have a great way to save even more money on your airline ticket -- Secret codes that can save you a bundle on air travel. Tonight, Consumer Reports shows you how to find them and how to use them.

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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