HKSB in the Media
Paterson, Ready To Take Center Stage, Is No Stranger to Brooklyn
Brooklyn-Born Pol Has Long Affiliation With Helen Keller Services for the Blind Here
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
March 11, 2008
by Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle And Michael Gormley Associated Press
BROOKLYN — As the scandal around Gov. Eliot Spitzer still raged Tuesday afternoon, attention began to focus on Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who was waiting in the wings as the chorus of voices asking for Spitzer to resign grew louder.
The soft-spoken Paterson has not been well known outside the New York metropolitan area, but he is no stranger to Brooklyn.
Paterson was born in Brooklyn, although he grew up in Hempstead, N.Y. and initially represented a district including Harlem and the Upper West Side in the state Senate.
Several years ago, he was honored by Helen Keller Services to the Blind in Downtown Brooklyn, and spoke before an audience of teachers, students and parents. When he was still in Brooklyn, Paterson went to the Helen Keller children’s school. He is still a client of the organization’s low-vision clinic, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.
Paterson, who is legally blind, recalled that when he was a young lawyer, he was asked to speak to a group of blind people, but first declined to do so. After he was asked a few more times, and he put the request off each time, the other person asked Paterson, “You keep talking about the debt you owe to Black people, but what about the debt you owe to blind people?” Paterson, by his own account, at first used some rather nasty language, but then thought it over and decided to address the blind group.
Paterson also appeared in Brooklyn in the fall of 2006, when he joined state Sen. Marty Connor and other officials at a press conference to criticize charges made by Connor’s then-challenger, Ken Diamondstone. More recently, Paterson was the keynote speaker at the Second Brooklyn Prisoner Re-entry Conference at City Tech.
Finally, Paterson, whose family has roots in Grenada and Jamaica, was a guest at last year’s West Indian Parade and Carnival on Eastern Parkway, on Labor Day. He sat alongside Spitzer.
“David Paterson is very smart, he’s witty and charming, and he’s known for his collegiality,” Sen. Connor told the Eagle. “He’s good at building consensus.”
Reactions to Spitzer
As of press time, Spitzer was still in office, but that didn’t prevent some Brooklyn officials – both Republicans and Democrats -- from calling for his resignation.
“I am very, very disappointed by the betrayal of Eliot Spitzer,” said Steve Harrison, a Democratic candidate from Bay Ridge seeking to unseat Congressman Vito Fossella. “He has admitted to what he did. This was a man who was a champion of honesty. I call upon Eliot Spitzer to step down right now.”
Craig Eaton, chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party, also from Bay Ridge, called on Spitzer to resign. “This is truly disappointing for the people of this great state. New Yorkers are currently facing some tough and challenging times, and we need to ensure that our governor can devote all of this time, efforts and energy to running the state and focus on the job at hand.”
Indeed, Republicans in the state legislature yesterday afternoon were threatening to start impeachment procedures within 48 hours unless Spitzer resigned.
One public figure thought that Paterson as a state executive might be preferable to Spitzer on an important local issue.
Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) said that although Paterson does not expressly oppose the controversial Atlantic Yards development plan as such, he – unlike Spitzer – hasn’t expressly come out in favor of it either.
Moreover, said Goldstein, whereas Spitzer’s “ego is bound up” with the idea of bringing a pro sports team to Brooklyn, this may not be true of Paterson. Finally, said the anti-Atlantic Yards leader, it may come down to a question of style – Spitzer campaigned as a “steamroller,” and Paterson doesn’t have such a reputation.
--Additional reporting by Harold Egeln
© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008