Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Staten Island senator criticizes NY Gov. Paterson's blindness, says it's keeping him from doing his job well

From The NY Daily News:

ALBANY, N.Y. - It's not his race - it's his blindness.

Democratic Staten Island Sen. Diane Savino charged that Paterson's impaired vision is what's actually hampering his ability to do the job.

"We live in a digital age now, with e-mailing and BlackBerrying. He is not able to do that because of his visual impairment," Savino told the Staten Island Advance in yesterday's editions.

"David cannot do those things. Also, he does not read Braille. He has people reading newspapers to him. He listens to tapes of staffers briefing him. All that takes an enormous amount of time.

"As a result, he is not able to respond on the fly the way [former Gov. Eliot] Spitzer or even [former Gov. George] Pataki could. In some ways I think that has hindered him, in spite of everything he has accomplished in life."

Savino's comments came out a day after Paterson - New York's first legally blind governor and just the second in the country's history - blamed his problems on his race.

Perhaps because of his disability, Paterson has long had a "disengaged" management style, said Savino, who served under him when he was Senate Minority Leader.

"David is one of those people who tends to rely on the staff around him to set policy and make decisions, and then he turns around and undoes things," she said. "The messaging and the policy development comes out in various conflicting forms."

In a final dagger, Savino called Paterson "brilliant in many respects," but added "as we have all found out, you can be smart and not be able to govern."

Savino also indicated that many Democrats would prefer Attorney General Andrew Cuomo at the top of the ticket next year.

"This is a delicate dance for him, but if Andrew Cuomo was running, I don't think there is anybody in the state who wouldn't want to see him run if things could be resolved with Gov. Paterson," she said.

Paterson spokesman Peter Kauffmann had no comment.

The governor and his aides were much more vocal when "Saturday Night Live" poked fun at his blindness several times, accusing the show of implying that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities.