Paterson Misses Paterson Forum

ALBANY–A forum in Bedford-Stuyvesant billed as “A Community Conversation” with David Paterson took place last night without David Paterson.

About 400 people showed up at the First A.M.E. Zion Church on MacDonough Street for the forum, which included appearances by Bill Thompson, John Liu, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Councilmembers Al Vann and Letitia James. Assemblywoman Annette Robinson was one of the principle organizers.

“We had a very nice meeting,” she said. “Basically we had those that came that were there. Several elected officials that were there, the clergy was there, we talked about the budget.”

Paterson’s spokesman Peter Kauffmann said the governor was also talking about the budget deficit–in Albany, with legislative leaders. “He looks forward to future community events in Brooklyn and across the state,” Kauffmann said.

The event would, conceivably, have been an opportunity to address and energize a critical base for Paterson. A poll released yesterday found black Democrats, by a two to one margin, supporting Andrew Cuomo in a hypothetical primary match-up against Paterson. The Democratic leader in Brooklyn, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, has been far from a Paterson ally of late, organizing a meeting in Kingston where labor leaders and some party chairman expressed concern with this leadership and strength.

Another dimension: Robinson said the Rev. Al Sharpton was present. Sharpton had been a close Paterson ally, but has not been particularly vocal in Paterson’s defense Barack Obama expressed non-support of the governor. Paterson and Sharpton then shared an awkward moment at Sharpton’s birthday party, where Paterson proclaimed (jokingly, at least somewhat) that Sharpton was the prince of New York but he was still the king.

Robinson said she understood that the governor was busy, and noted that Paterson’s close aide, Clemmie Harris, attended the meeting.

“I recognize that as a legislator, earlier in the week, we had a conference. It was indicated that there would be a leaders meeting. We were of course still hopeful that he would be able to be with us,” Robinson said. “We’re sure he valued that occasion as much as we valued his presence to be there.”