Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oops. Paterson not first legally blind governor in America

That distinction goes to Bob C. Riley of Arkansas (1924-1994), who became visually impaired in WWII and went on to be governor there -- for 11 days. The AP and The New York Times began correcting themselves March 14, with the NYT contacting Riley's widow.

"Mr. Riley’s left eye was removed after his combat injuries and that he briefly had minimal light perception in his right eye," according to the NYT. 'However, that dissipated very quickly because the eye was embedded with shrapnel, and he had no vision all of the years that he was moving the mountains out there, so to speak,' she said."

But Riley wasn't able to get too much done as governor of Arkansas due to the few days he served; he took office when Gov. Dale Bumpers resigned to join the U.S. Senate.

Riley was a professor of political science at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and had been active in local and state politics. He served as lieutenant governor in 1970 and was re-elected in 1972.

Blogger Hack N. Sack, who writes about NY politics, says many media reports also overstated NY Gov. David Paterson's father's "firsts" as an African American politician. And one media outlet wrongly stated Paterson was the first disabled governor -- that distinction goes to NY's own Franklin D. Roosevelt.