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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pataki Canal Coverup Explored in Detail

posted by Jazz at 1/09/2005 10:37:00 AM


Michelle Breidenbach of the Syracuse Post Standard has done a good job of digging through all of the recently released "Pataki Papers" on the Canal Authority scam. She's been able to come up with a timeline of how the Governor's office reacted to the revelation of this highly shady deal, and the media damage control they attempted. The Pataki administration had resisted the release of these documents in the courts for some time, and even after their release it has taken quite a while to go through them all.

Modern technology and a state Supreme Court ruling have made it possible for New Yorkers, more than a year later, to see just how interested in the deal Pataki's staff really was.

Over the course of that year, the state comptroller, attorney general, inspector general and the Canal Corp. itself would criticize, rescind approval and cancel the contract, newspapers would continue to investigate, and Assembly Democrats would push for 30,000 documents to be made public.

"No public statements unless they are run by me," Pataki Director of Communications Lisa Stoll wrote in an e-mail to nine members of Pataki's inner staff and the Canal Corp. In a series of e-mails over three months, the staff belittled the story, blamed Democrats, critiqued newspaper articles and their authors and considered killing the deal so there would be no more stories.

This is where the timeline begins. I'll include a couple of highlights, but the entire schedule is worth reading, as it really shows the scrambling going on behind the scenes in the Governor's office to try to distance Pataki from this mess.

On Sept. 15, 2003, the Monday after the story broke in The Post-Standard, the spin begins.

10:10 a.m. Canal Corp. spokesman Terry O'Brien asks the group how to respond to the article. He suggests they point out that the concept for canalside development dates to a previous Canal Corp. administration.

10:41 a.m. Canal Corp. Executive Director Michael Fleischer writes, "We should also note that the state comptroller and attorney general approved the contract."

Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who approved the contract before he left office, and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer are Democrats. Fleischer was appointed by the Republican administration.

10:45 a.m.

Canal Corp. lawyers say they will find out how the Democratic appointees to a separate state board voted on the deal when it came before them a few years ago.

10:47 a.m. Mollie Fullington, a Pataki spokeswoman, inquires, "At this point, knowing what we know now, do we want this specific deal to go thru or not?"

11:26 a.m. Post-Standard reporter Erik Kriss stops a governor's spokesman on the Capitol steps and asks about the situation. What should they say?

The more stories like this which come to light, the more I see Pataki not only fading away from any shot at the White House, but he may be lucky to even hold on to the Governor's mansion.

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