The swearing-in of David A. Paterson as governor all at once evoked the clear sense of history in the making; the celebratory trappings of an inauguration and the raw emotion and excitement of a rock concert - with NYSUT leaders in the middle of it all.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi and Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin joined Sen. Hillary Clinton and a who's who in state and national politics - from both political parties - in the Assembly chamber Monday as Paterson took the oath of office to succeed Eliot Spitzer.
The NYSUT leaders took it all in as Paterson, the state's first African-American and first legally blind governor, spoke of his commitment to public education, those with disabilities and, especially, to the children of New York State.
Iannuzzi and Lubin, along with UFT President Randi Weingarten and NYSUT legislative staff members, enjoyed Paterson's light touch as he joked about almost smashing a glass on the Assembly rostrum with his gavel the last time the Legislature met in joint session. Paterson went on to thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for saving him, and triggered further laughter and applause by imitating Silver quietly intoning, "I'm not going to let you turn the State of the State into a Jewish wedding."
The historic swearing-in, coming after a tumultuous week in Albany, brought hundreds of reporters to Albany. Television trucks ringed the State Capitol, their satellite dishes pointing to distant receivers in Buffalo, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island, New York City and points well beyond the state's far-flung borders.
Iannuzzi emerged into the crush of reporters outside the Assembly to speak with radio and television reporters and political writers for several newspapers.
Iannuzzi told reporters that Paterson's sense of humor, his ability to work with others, and his strengths as a listener and conciliator would serve him and New York state well in the future. The clear message was that New York is already seeing the transformation of a popular legislator and lieutenant governor into a leader who is ready to work collaboratively to advance public education, strengthen the economy and move New York forward.
- Carl Korn
IN THE MEDIA
Gov. David A Paterson (NY.gov)
DAVID A. PATERSON became New York’s 55th Governor on March 17, 2008. In his first address as Governor, Paterson spoke about the challenges New York faces and his plan for New York’s future.
David Paterson sworn in as 55th governor (Times Union)
David A. Paterson assumed responsibility for state government on Monday before a joint session of the Legislature, drawing praise from both sides of the aisle as a politician of the people. To sustained applause from the Senate and Assembly members and dignitaries filling the Assembly chamber, Paterson, 53, offered a humble smile and ascended from the lieutenant governor's post to become the 55th governor of New York. See also: VIDEO
Change in governorship comes at tough time for schools (Journal News)
From his family's early commitment to education to his political involvement many years later, educators and legislators are hopeful the state's incoming governor will be a steadfast supporter of the schools. So far, they overwhelmingly expect that to be the case. "I would define him as a progressive leader who is a strong supporter of public education," said Richard Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers. "He's not just a supporter. He's a leader and a visionary."
Paterson addresses tax cap issue at press conference (New York Times)
In response to a question on the status of the tax cap commission at today's press conference at the Capitol in Albany, Lt. Gov. Paterson offered the following: "On the property tax cap, the governor and I both felt that this was a good idea. We appointed [Nassau] County Executive [Thomas R.] Suozzi to oversee a commission that will look at how to do it. I’m very interested in that report because the question wasn’t whether or not there was a will, the question was whether there was a way. When that commission reports back, I have to make the determination whether that way fits with the apparatus we have and our ability to implement it." Full Story | Tax Cap
Lt. Gov Paterson held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol.
Video | Report
Resignation muddies school budget picture (EdWeek - subscription required)
"Teachers union officials also expressed hope that Gov. Spitzer's departure will mean an end to his plan to cap property taxes for schools, a pledge he unveiled in January as a means to curtail the growth of school spending and property taxes on homeowners. He had just created a seven-member commission, which had subpoena powers, to devise a way to cap school property taxes. "He drew some battle lines there," Mr. Iannuzzi said. "I would expect Gov. Paterson to bring some fresh perspective.". Full Story | Tax Cap
Transition raises budget questions (Times Union)
"Our hope would be that the future Gov. Paterson would look at a more progressive way of funding education and not look at it with an arbitrary measure such as a property tax cap," said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teachers union. Full Story | Tax Cap
Lamenting a lost trust, and lost opportunities (New York Times)
Richard C. Iannuzzi... said his union backed Mr. Spitzer partly because he had pledged to be more generous to poor school districts to settle a longstanding lawsuit about educational equity. The allegations against the governor and his resignation, he said, “are an overwhelming blow to a process that was under way with respect to equity in education." Full Story
New York state Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation Wednesday morning, March 12, 2008, in a televised address. The resignation is effective Monday, March 17, when Lt. Gov. David Paterson will assume office.
STATEMENT BY NYSUT PRESIDENT RICHARD C. IANNUZZI
"I am personally saddened, as are all of us at New York State United Teachers, for Eliot Spitzer and especially for his family. As we move past the events of the last three days, we hope they will find strength and healing to move forward.
"NYSUT has had a long and positive relationship with David Paterson as a senator and as lieutenant governor, and we know he has the experience, credentials and leadership to be an exemplary governor for New York state. When he takes office, we will work with him and the Legislature to keep Albany focused on forging a strong state budget, and we are confident that this essential work will go forward."
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association; and the AFL-CIO.