2008-03-21 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Welcome To Governor David Patterson
Commentary by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine Chapey Dr. Geraldine Chapey I have known David Patterson since he was originally elected to the Senate in 1985. At that time I was serving as the Director of Lobbying and Legislation for the Professional Staff Congress/City University of New York representing the faculty and staff of CUNY. David Patterson's warm welcoming personality and his in depth knowledge of the issues have made him a strong asset in the Senate. He was elected to a seat that was previously held by his father - Basil Patterson. To this day (David is 53 years old) David and his father have enjoyed a very close personal and professional relationship. In fact, last week when he heard that he might be the next New York State Governor - the first person he called was his father.

My mother, New York State Regent Dr. Geraldine Chapey, and I have worked closely with David Patterson on issued related to education. Last Tuesday (March 11) the only business done by a joint session of the New York State Assembly and Senate was to elect members of the New York State Board of Regents. Congratulations to my mother on her re-election for an additional fiveyear term on the Board of Regents.

One of David Patterson's passions is education. He is deeply interested in and involved in all educational matters, which will benefit the people of our state. He and his family fought hard to provide the best educational setting for him because he is legally blind. The Patterson family moved from the Bronx to Hempstead to allow their son to find a regular education setting where he would excel. I think that he is the first legally blind Governor in the United States. He is a law school graduate. He developed his own personal technique and innovations, which would give him the ability to excel in a universe of sighted people.

Usually, only a few people pay attention to the speaker while the rest of the audience engages in their own personal conversations. However, on the occasion of Patterson's speech, he had the ability to reach all the delegates. His talk was factual and funny. He has a very wonderful ability and phenomenal talent to captivate an entire audience. All three thousand people paid attention and gave him a standing ovation. He exhibited the same inspirational talent in his remarks on March 17 at his inauguration.

His installation as Governor is a break through for the approximately 10 million visually impaired people in the USA. As Mike Godino, the President of the New York State Chapter of the American Council for the Blind stated in Newsday on March 13, 2008 - David Patterson "is a man with a disability who is actually being recognized for his achievements rather than being seen for what he can't do because of his disabilities."

He raises the aspirations of millions of disabled people. In a New York Times article of March 16, 2008 entitled "Examining the Footprints of New York's Governor to Be," Patterson is described as having "a reputation as a smart, engaging, funny, consensus driven leader who pushed for reform in state government."

He is taking the helm at a critical period of time. Firstly, the New York State budget by law must be in place by April 1. Last week, Patterson was meeting around the clock with all the parties involved to try to negotiate an on time budget.

His experience as a member of the Senate, as senate minority leader and as lieutenant governor, are big assets because he has established long term positive relationships with all the parties involved in the budget process. Patterson has clearly vowed to shepherd a sound fiscal budget. Secondly, Patterson is assuming the governorship at a time of grave fiscal uncertainty in our financial institutions.

The situation at Bear Stearns has serious ramifications for New York's fiscal situation. More than 20% of the revenue in New York State comes from Wall Street.

Congratulations to David Patterson as he was installed on Monday March 17 as the first black chief executive in New York State. David Patterson brings his personal brilliance, extensive experience and charming personality to the position.

He is quoted in the March 16 New York Times as saying that as he assumed the governorship he "feels like a student who is taking the final exam without having attended any classes." David Patterson is optimistic that in New York State anyone can achieve if they work hard.

Welcome Governor David Patterson!!

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