Updated 03/26/2008 09:56 AM
Lawmakers say government must move forward
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Eight days after David Paterson was dubbed just the right change for post-Spitzer Albany, the enthusiasm has turned, in some places, to bewilderment. It started with a startling post-swearing in news conference.
"I betrayed a commitment to my wife several years ago," Paterson said last week.
That unleashed a series of unflattering accounts, some true -- among them that Paterson stayed at local Albany hotels when he has his own home in the area. He said he needed the hotels for early morning meetings as lieutenant governor. Monday, he also admitted to what he said he's told a reporter before about drug use.
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Paterson was asked, "Marijuana?"
"Yes," he replied.
"Yes. I'd say I was about 22 or 23 and I tried it a couple of times, yes," said Paterson.
His revelations are greeted in some circles as refreshing candor. But others wonder if it's too much. A distraction when important official work is waiting in the state capital. Paterson said as much during an interview in New York City.
"We have a $4.6 billion budget deficit that we are going to have to close in a budget and in a week and in a minute you're probably going to ask me if this is a distraction. It is only a distraction when I'm asked about it,” Paterson said.
He's backed up by his partners in government, including the state's top Republican. It’s notable because Joe Bruno may have seized on personal problems if Eliot Spitzer was still in office.
"It's important that we all be able to govern. And this governor needs to govern. We're trying to govern. We have to go forward,” said Bruno.
Closer allies say the same thing.
"We need a good functioning governor. I think everybody wants David Paterson to be that governor. He comes in with an enormous amount of good will,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"We have confidence and we've talked about it that Governor Paterson will be a full fledged partner in this and is very eager to move forward,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
And moving forward is just what the governor said he is doing. He's expected in Albany through the week, for a budget due next Tuesday.