Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for March 5 , 2010

COMING UP ON NEED TO KNOW. GOVERNOR PATERSON DEFENDS HIMSELF AGAINST A GROWING SCANDAL. AND TWO DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMEN FROM NEW YORK ARE DEALING WITH CONTROVERSIES OF THEIR OWN. WE’LL LOOK AT THE IMPACT ON GOVERNACE AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

 

(PETER)  THANKS FOR JOINING US.  I'M PETER IGLINSKI. HIS HAS BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATS. WE'LL START WITH THE GOVERNOR. ONE SCANDAL HAD ALREADY FORCED GOVERNOR PATERSON TO WITHDRAW HIS CANDIDACY FOR ELECTION TO A FULL TERM. A SECOND SCANDAL SURFACED DURING THE WEEK-THIS ONE INVOLVING WORLD SERIES TICKETS ACQUIRED BY THE GOVERNOR. THE TWO SCANDALS ARE CALLING INTO QUESTION PATERSON'S ABILITY TO GOVERN. JOINING ME ARE TIMOTHY KNEELAND, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR AT NAZARETH COLLEGE, AND PATRICK MALGIERI, LOCAL ATTORNEY, FORMER STATE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTMEEMAN, AND ADVISOR TO THE MONROE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE.

 

Can Governor Paterson survive?

 

(Kneeland) If you're asking can he survive, he can absolutely stay in office until he's driven out by legal proceedings. But can he govern, that's really the question, I don't think he can govern right now, with this scandal surrounding him I think he's lost the support of the leader of the state assembly, by the charges against him by the state senate clearly he's losing the support of that group as well which makes his ability to put together a budget very difficult if not impossible.

 

(Peter) if you were advising the governor what would you say at this point?

 

(Malgieri) I think it goes back to your question can he survive? At the end of the day he's gonna have to make that decision.  Legally he can stay, his term, he still has several months remaining.  He has responsibilities he has to carry out. At the end of the day I think he has to ask himself what the real answers are to the allegations they remain allegations at this point.  He has to go through that process internally with himself and with his family as well this governmental and political colleagues and I think they all have to weigh in and be part of that decision.  What I would advise him to do? What I would advise him to do would be to go through that process and that the decision is his to make.  If he does stay his responsibility is to carry out the work as a governor he has chartered to do and is directed to do and there are a lot of responsibilities the state faces today.

 

(Peter) how about a quick recap of the scandals the first one is a domestic violence situation, one of his top aides was accused of domestic violence and the governor is accused of interfering to get the woman to not to press charges in the second case he wound up with world series tickets, there were worth a lot of money New York Yankee world series tickets this past season and there is a question if he ever intended to buy the tickets and there's a question of back dating a check which is also criminal defense, potential.

 

 (Malgieri) what you said Peter is correct; all these are allegations I'm not minimizing the seriousness of the allegations and the consequences of them but they point to two things.  They are allegations, there are processes in place both civil and criminal to investigate and determine whether those allegations will bear fruit and in fairness to all concerned not just the Governor, but all involved that you have to let these processes play themselves out.  In the meantime I think it's most important for the people of good faith to focus on issues that are most important to taxpayers and to the residents of New York. We have a serious budget crisis, estimates of 9 billion dollars we have job losses, Birdseye closing its headquarters here in Rochester, these are serious issues that really demand the attention of all public officials at the federal, state and local.  That’s the important issue than New Yorker's have to face.

 

(Peter) The Governor has been convicted of nothing, he's not been indicted butt is it possible, people need faith in their institutes, in their government, is it possible that even without convictions that you could/should lose the moral authority to govern?

 

 (Kneeland) I think in the court of public opinion decision making of the governor in the past has come into question.  His ability to lead the constituent groups that form NY state government have clearly been weaker and now is weakening even further Now here's a man who couldn't even get the Senate to come together last summer during the upheaval there now he's supposed to lead us into a budget right now there's real questions about his ability to take the lead in that or to serve.   The Leader of the state Assembly has actually asked Ravage to leave the negotiations which seems to me has the authority has already devolved after the lutenant governor. which  again I think David Patterson has to do what is best for the State of NY not what is best for David Patterson right now I would encourage him as he's going through this process to listen to those voices who really can see the political landscape quite clearly because this is a question of politics not legality.  The court of public opinion versus the court in which these issues will be played out.

 

(Malgieri) I think what you said underscores the fact that there are institutions in place and people who are occupying the  positions of leadership in those institutions that are prepared to, and have the ability to lead the state through this process,   even in this difficult time whether you agree with their politics or not, shelly silver, John Samson, Malcolm Smith and even the minority leadership in both of the houses are people who are committed to the welfare of the state and seeing the state through it most difficult times these are institutions in place that are prepared to respond in a crisis even if the leadership or the governors office isn't as strong or is entirely absent I think we can do that with the people and institutions in place.

 

(Peter) why do the World Series tickets matter? And I'm asking that because  a lot of people baseball fans were thinking if I were given World Series tickets you bet I would take them, why do the world series tickets matter?

 

(Kneeland) Because the Yankees have invested interest in NY State providing funds to build new stadiums, which they did recently, so there is a question of ethics whether there is a quick pro quo.  It's important for the voter to believe that their government is acting on their behalf and not just on the behalf of a special interest who happens to get World Series tickets. And then there's the question of whether or not the governor allegedly lied to the ethics panel about this which again hinders his ability to earn respect of those people who are decision makers in Albany.

 

(Peter)Let's put this in perspective a little bit this is not isolated this follows Elliott Spenser's prostitution scandal which forced him out of office two years ago. That came around the same time former state controller Allen Hevesy had his problems.  Then former senator leader Joe Bruno his corruption conviction what is this doing to people's faith in government?

Our government had already been considered one of the most dysfunctional governments in the country and all this keeps happening.

 

(Malgieri)  The examples you mention point out that neither political party has a monopoly when it comes too vice or virtue.

 so we can point to a laundry list throughout the history of American politics but even NY politics where members of both parties line up are people would actually betrayed their public oath in office or have at least lost the confidence of the people.  when you have instances like this that occur, even allegations they do try people's confidence in the system and perhaps even discourage people of good faith people of talent people who are committed to public policy to consider entering into the system but at the end of the day you have to believe that the institutions matter more that the theory behind these institutions transcend even the short coming of a public official  You have to recognize the fact that although we have some notable examples the you've mentioned, that's a small handful compared to the thousands of people we elect to office every year through the nation and the state and thousands of people who go to work everyday in government at the local, state, and federal level, who put in an honest day's work and are committed to making the lives of the people they serve even better.  And it gets lost understandably it gets lost, it's not a sexy story to tell but that is the real story.

 

(Peter) People have already been cynical in NY voter turnout has been unimpressive but certainly we've known that for so long these scandals keep coming up and they keep coming up with people who have the most influence maybe no one investigates the people on the bottom

 

(Kneeland) and they happen locally too. We just had the robitron scandal herein Monroe county so it's not just the center of politics, see our government is Built on philosophy of legitimacy and that people will respond not to cohesive power but persuasive power but if there are people who are corrupt and are not charged, convicted and punished for their behavior then you begin to create a climate of corruption,  a climate of corruption not only gets the good actors who are coming into the system but it can lead to the citizens of the state, to begin to look for vested interests of power rather than the legitimate sources in their government we see this worldwide that's one of the reasons why we need be very careful about allowing, just turning a blind eye to this and in fact if it is at the highest level we do need to uncover it fare t out and make a spectacle of it  because its not merely entertainment it actually has a function.

 

 (Malgieri) two quick points, as much as it challenges the confidence people may have in Government to have instances like this, what challenges you even more which is not an effective response to that’s so that people feel like they "got away with it"  it's important to maintain confidence in government, it's important for government to be able to respond to this effectively and  it's critically important that, I  mentioned it before,  we're in such extraordinary economic times, challenging the government to provide us with basic services that we've taken for granted,   I think it's critical it's one of the great challenges and that’s' to keep people's confidence is to see past these instances and see what's most Important.

 

(Peter) Democrats, both members of Congress, chairman of the House stepped down in a corruption scandal that he was on corporate paid trips, questions about rent-controlled Manhattan Congressman Messa and I'm careful with this one, because it's only an allegation, we don't even know officially what the allegation is. That he stepped down, he said because of health reasons. Not stepped down, he will not run for reelection. But Henny Stoyer, the majority leader of the House, revealed that their have been ethical complaints regarding the Congressman. We have no idea whether they are valid, whether it's somebody with a bone to pick. One ethical complaint once, so we don't even know. But in the face of everything else going on there is now a cloud there. What does this do to the Democratic Party? Their are people that joined the party because they believe in the cause, they believe in the principles. What does it do to the party in New York State?

 

(Malgieri)  Well those principles survive and those causes survive and in fact they are at the heart of what hundreds and hundreds of elected Democratic officials at the state level and at the federal level spend everyday working on. I mean the reality is is that with the people that you've mentioned we have people, like in our state delegation, Assemblyman Gantt, Morelle, Koon, Assemblywoman John, who go to work everyday working on behalf of the things they believe in their hearts of hearts is most important for residents. Louise Slaughter has served this area for decades at the local and federal level with great distinction. So it goes back to what I said before about the confidence you have to have in the institution. One of the institutions is the political party and I believe...I would even be presumptuous enough to say that Republicans would say the same thing when confronted with examples of corruption that involves their party, whether it's locally at Robitrad, whether it involves the President of the State Senate Joseph Bruno; that despite that, the principles that they believe they stand for survive that and in fact thrive because of the very good people who support their views. That's very much at the core of the Democratic Party in New York.

 

(Peter)  I'm thinking about the guys of the names we don't know, you know the people who volunteer their time answering phones, licking envelopes. This can't help recruit them; this can't help their esprit de corps.

 

(Kneeland)  Well it certainly will have electoral implications come the mid terms. We already suspect that the Republicans are going to do very well in the mid terms, maybe 27 more seats in the House and 7 more seats in the Senate. Locally in the statewide elections you have for the first time all the major offices are on the ballot that rarely happens in New York State, but because of the special Senate election you know you've got every major...and I think that really will be a problem for Democrats to overcome. In politics you can see the ads now. The politics of corruption, the Republicans are going to be hit back because Joe Bruno, but their is going to be a pretty nasty campaign. Ultimately the effect may be to move more people away from both political parties and into the Independent or blanks, which we already see a third of the state not registered in the two major political parties.

 

(Peter)  But you were saying it's going to get nasty.

 

(Kneeland)  Oh absolutely.

 

(Peter)  That's been one of the problems, hasn't it been? The utter lack of civility both in Washington and in Albany. I remember the era of Warren Anderson as majority leader of the Senate and Stanley Fink State Assembly Speaker, they would go out for lunch, shake hands, agree to disagree, budgets were done pretty much on time; we shake hands, we disagree but were friends. That era seems to be utterly gone and getting worse.

 

(Kneeland)  Okay, but again I think some of that era was anomalous in the sense the Republicans ran the table for so long that by the time Stanley Fink moves up that their was accommodations. The same thing in the U.S. Congress, before 1994 things were civil in the U.S. Congress because the Democrats ran the table there. I think we have to really look at this in historic context that things have been nasty in the past and we got some really good ideas in the 19th Century, early 20th Century. Things may be nasty in the future but in fact nasty does lead people to make decisions and maybe we'll actually get more candidates to come, outside candidates, third party candidates.

 

(Peter)  I'm not laughing, I'm just reading Andrew Jackson's biography, the Jon Meacham: American Lion, and I just read the reference to a letter from John Quincy Adams to his son complaining about how things are being done in Washington and the lack of civility.

 

(Malgieri)  Well of course Jackson blamed his critics for his wife's early death because of the viciousness of the campaign. I guess with the respect to the...I mean this actually, your question invokes the whole issue of negative campaigning, is it effective or not? It would be silly and disingenuous to say that these allegations some how won't be utilized by the craftsman of the political campaigns to come this year as a means to bolster the candidacy of the opposition parties or party. But the reality is is that, and I believe that this is particularly true this time, that the reality is that the boats will be driven by the issues that matter to people. If people are not working, or if they are unemployed, if they feel legitimate that they are in fear of losing their jobs, if we continue to see the erosion of the economy in upstate New York, and people's healthcare is still a question for so many people; those are the issues that are going to drive people to polls. It may be colored by some of the allegations were facing, but those are the issues ultimately that will decide whether or not people vote for either the Democratic party candidate or the Republican party candidate in whatever race we are talking about.

 

(Peter)  It seems to me that a couple of years ago that their was talk about are we holding politicians and candidates too high a standard chasing out good people. I don't seem to be hearing that right now and I'm wondering if people are becoming apathetic or are they craving that high standard. We really need a high standard, or do they just not care anymore?

 

(Kneeland)  No I think they care, I think the last couple of elections cycles have shown that they care very much. But they do want change, change means the culture of corruption and change means politicians that can deliver. And unfortunately for the Democrats they are in charge both in Washington and in New York State, and if they don't deliver come November on these promises then it will also have an effect. And the negative campaigning will play a role in maybe organizing some of that.

 

(Malgieri)  I think people...I do think people expect that, and they shouldn't expect a lot from their public officials. Do they expect too much? I don't know, public officials are elected by us, they come from our communities and in many cases they are our neighbors. So I think people expect a lot, they get disappointed when people don't live up to those expectations and then the issue is how far those expectations have not been met. Are they compelling enough to suggest that someone should step out of office, or compelling enough to vote someone out of office, or do you excuse it, acknowledge human foibles and let that person go off and do their job, and you know that will be a case by case basis.

 

(Peter) Professor thirty seconds you've got the last question. How important is this to end quickly?

 

(Kneeland) If a person is going to resign, sooner rather than later, so we can stabilize government and get the work that we need to for the New York State people.

 

(Peter) Gentleman thank you very much. Timothy Kneeland, Political Science Professor at Nazareth College and Patrick Malgieri, Attorney and Advisor to the Monroe County Democratic Committee.

 

TIME NOW FOR A LOOK AT THE BUSINESS SECTION WITH THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.

 

(Peter) Joining me now is Matt Daneman, business reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle Welcome Matt.

We'll start with the bad news Birdseye had an announcement about local quarters what’s going on?

 

(Matt) As you might recall Blackstone Group a major NY investment group, equity group bought Birdseye food months ago for 1.3 Billion Dollars.  Blackstone was already a major player in the food world they brought their business lines which included such properties as Duncan Hines and hungry Man dinners, things of that nature, now word has come that Pinnacle and Blackstone are going to close down the Monroe County headquarters,  jobs lost,  moving local corporations to New Jersey.  The job layoffs will happen starting June to end of the year so there will be no corporate functions of bird's-eye in Monroe County anymore.  The company will still have a food-processing plant in the region but the end of Birdseye as a Rochester based company it’s gone.

 

(Peter) Any idea of the effect it might have on the agri- business?

 

 

(Matt) the Ag world in the Rochester region,  farmers were major supplier and all indications are that those contracts and those deliveries are going to happen at least through 2011 so at least for the agricultural community won't have an immediate impact but long term,  remains to be seen.

 

(Peter) unemployment numbers are just out what do they tell us about Rochester?

 

(Matt)  they tell us that the economy was a little worse off than we actually thought in 2009 and its not getting any better in at least one metric Job, for 2009 overall the unemployment rate averaged 7.9% in for January 2010 it went up to 8.4% in the Rochester region.  SO you can see that jobs are actually getting a little bit worse indications being that seasonal hiring that happened during Christmas time are being let go as of January, we've seen some indicators that the economy is starting to turn around in some ways such as orders for companies, to building up inventory that sort of thing, but the one key area is going to be when are they going to start hiring again and there's no indication that will be happening anytime soon.

 

(Peter)  there were some expectations that the unemployment rate would increase a little bit more.

 

(Matt) there were definitely some expectations this is not out of the blue that the unemployment rate is not turning around right away and there have been expectations and a lot of talk that NY wide and nationally that recovery from this recession could be a long slow haul with not a lot of job growth for some time.   These are always Crystal Ball projections but when we look back and we might not be surprised if it takes a long time to get out of the jobs hole.

 

(Peter) Let's go to the other end of the spectrum, some good news, a new beer product coming out a new Labatts product what does it mean for North American breweries

 

(Matt) What it means is 50 extra jobs and a real sign of continuing economic life for the St. Paul brewery, Genesee products have been a facet of the Rochester Economy and sort of an icon for Rochester for so long.

North American breweries is going to start doing line of a  Labatt blue lime it's going to have a Lime Infused flavor, you've seen so many other Beer companies doing Lime beer, corona made its brand off of them.  Labatt Blue Lime is going to start coming out on a couple weeks adding 50 jobs at the St. Paul brewery it's going to be the first time since 2002 they ran over night shift service so you're seeing a lot of signs of hopefully the continued turnaround of that brewery, it's been in financial strains for so long and then North American Breweries came along bought it and what you're hopefully seeing are some signs of rejuvenation for that company

 

(Peter) let's finish up with Kodak, they see an opportunity apparently packaging, printing, tell us what it is and what is the opportunity for them?

 

(Matt) This company has been in commercial printing for some time packaging printing is one subset, it's basically the printing of boxes, pouches all the stuff that stuff comes inside.  your toothpaste tube to your Ramon noodles Kodak is starting to make bigger for rate packaging printing they're hoping by 2012 the becomes a three hundred million-dollar business for them.  they've got some hardware on the market right now for making the actual plates for printing there looking on focusing much more on this as a business line, back in early February in NY city, CEO of Kodak was meeting with Wall Street analysts and some investors and laying out here is where this company's going, this is what we want to do  to make this company strong again,  I don't know how many times he talked about packaging printing, but it seemed to come up again and again so you really see it as a direction, is it  ever going to replace the cash cow  that camera film was? No, But you can see that as a direction that this company wants to go into, they're banging a lot of buck on the packaging printing world and it makes sense in that 'here's a line of printing that can't be replaced by stuff going on the internet, or just reading things in your laptop replacing so much of the dead tree, the paper, but you can't do that with a box or a pouch.

 

(Peter) Until the ramen Noodles goes virtual...

 

(Matt) Until it can right click and download it right into my stomach...

 

(Peter) As always Matt thanks for joining us. Matt daneman Business reporter for Democrat and chronicle

 

THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW.  I'M PETER IGLINSKI. JOIN US AGAIN NEXT WEEK FOR MORE IN-DEPTH COVERAGE OF THE ISSUES AFFECTING GREATER ROCHESTER.

 

(ANNCR) Previous Need To Know broadcasts can be seen if you have Time Warner's on demand service. Go to Rochester On Demand channel 111. Then look for WXXI news. There you'll find a selection of recent Need To Know Programs.

»