But, the man has courage.
One week ago, Governor Paterson (D-NY) vetoed Assembly Bill 584A (Senate 1058), which would’ve required polling places to be handicapped accessible within six months. The bill combined two of the most universally popular issues — access to voting, and helping the handicapped — and passed both houses of the state legislature with unanimous support. And Paterson vetoed it. The outrage was predictable.
But, a look beneath the surface shows something interesting: Patterson might’ve made the right call. His veto message stressed his commitment to voting access rights, but the impossibility of achieving the bill’s goal within the stated time of six months. He ended by pledging his support to the issue, if not the bill:
The disapproval of this legislation, however, does not mean the end of the important goals the sponsors seek to achieve. I have been in communication with the Mayor of New York City on this issue, and we have agreed that New York City and the State will establish a working group to ensure that full access for individuals with disabilities to New York City’s polling places will be implemented. The Mayor has pledged his full support to this approach. If, by May of next year, I do not see satisfactory progress toward this goal, I will submit and seek enactment of legislation that would achieve this result.
Paterson did a very courageous thing. He made what sounds (to me) like the right call, but he made it in a thoroughly unspinnable manner, at a time when he desperately needs a political victory. Because of this competence and — if he actually does push for handicapped voting access, as he’s promised — integrity, Paterson will probably not be New York’s governor after 2010. But he’s shown us, in at least this instance, how a good excecutive makes decisions.