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April 15, 2008

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Paterson Begins to Lay Out Agenda
Karen DeWitt

ALBANY, NEW YORK (2008-04-15) For the first time in weeks, events at the state Capitol seemed to be returning to normal, as Governor David Paterson addressed environmentalists and transit workers union members, and began to lay out his agenda for the coming months.

Governor David Paterson, who's been on the job for nearly a month, gave some hints on what policies he might be pursuing for the remaining two months of the legislative session. Paterson spoke to environmental advocates, who were holding a rally in advance of Earth Day, and who were pleased by what he had to say.

"In the Paterson Administration, every day is Earth Day," said Paterson, to applause.

Paterson told them he's already opposed a planned liquefied natural gas plant in Long Island Sound, and has signed an executive order to reconvene a key alternative energy planning group. He says he'll ban Styrofoam cups from all state run cafeterias, and will work to expand New York's bottle bill to include deposits on water and juice bottles.

Environmentalists were excited by Patterson's promises, and hoped that he would be an even better environmental governor than his predecessor, former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was initially supported by many environmental groups.

"Governor Spitzer was not the same person as Attorney General Spitzer on a lot of the environmental issues," said Rob Moore, with Environmental Advocates. "Governor Paterson is clearly making environmental concerns a major priority at his point."

Laura Haight, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, has been lobbying to expand the state's bottle deposit law for years.

"We're glad this is one of the issues he cares about ," said Haight.

State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the legislature's top Republican, has been an opponent of the expanded bottle bill in the past. Bruno threw some cold water on the issue, when he said he had questions about an expansion of the law, saying it's "controversial" and might increase prices.

Paterson next spoke to the New York City Transit Workers Union, where he was greeted with enthusiasm, as the crowd chanted his name. One worker even shouted out "Paterson for President", as the governor thanked the transit workers for their dedication to difficult jobs, and praised the union for its work.

"Unions get blamed for everything, and yet the things that unions fight for are the things that every citizen in this country endorses," said Paterson, citing better health care, pensions and safe working standards.

Paterson's father, Basil Paterson, who is an attorney, has represented the transit workers union during bargaining negotiations with the MTA and during the 2005 strike.

The governor, who's been quite forthcoming about his personal life during his first weeks in office, declined for the second day in a row to answer any questions from the media. Paterson has received negative press about his charitable donations, revealed in his income tax forms released to the public on Monday. The governor was criticized for giving just $150 in old clothes to the Salvation Army. A spokesman accompanying the governor said that Paterson's schedule was too busy to permit a question and answer session with reporters. 


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