Mr. Lynch is one of the people helping Mr. Paterson answer all that door-knocking. Governor Paterson hired away an associate at Mr. Lynch’s consulting firm, Luther Smith (with Mr. Lynch’s blessing). One former aide said that Mr. Smith will, in essence, act as a mediator between various combustible factions now commingling on the second floor. According to the aide, they include Spitzer loyalists and longtime Paterson aides: Mr. Paterson’s chief of staff, Charles O’Byrne, and Michael Jones-Bey, Mr. Paterson’s former chief of staff, who is expected to rejoin.
At the same time, Mr. Paterson is going to have to reckon with the reality that he’s going to be receiving lots of advice from outside his camp, as he prepares to negotiate a budget with the entrenched leaders of the State Senate and Assembly.
As Representative Jose Serrano, who was in Albany for the swearing-in, bluntly put it: “You cannot be a successful governor if you confront the Legislature. Every governor, every president in the history of the world found out that if they confront the legislative body, they get nowhere.”
Where, exactly, Mr. Paterson wants to go is still an open question. His agenda, like his administration, is still very much in formation.
“It ain’t a week to figure everything out,” Mr. Lynch said. “He’s got a week, and he’s got to be on the job working. And normal transitions are at least 60 days, November to January. He doesn’t have that time. So, he’s got to start this process going, and at the same time, he’s got to figure out how to really do a transition. My advice to him is go slow, assess the people he has now, to see what’s good and what’s bad and move from there.”
Another source in the Paterson administration interviewed on the day of the swearing-in agreed that things were in transition, but said that with the $124 billion state budget due on April 1, there wouldn’t be much room for wholesale changes in the agenda. This source, told of Mr. Lynch’s comments, took the opportunity not to address the substance of them, but to suggest that Mr. Lynch shouldn’t be speaking for Mr. Paterson in the first place.
Amid the chaos of transition, lawmakers, lobbyists and activists are optimistic that the changeover represents a second chance to pitch their agendas.
Lobbyist James Featherstonhaugh said, “There’s lots of things I and other people just haven’t discussed with Governor Paterson or his staff, because at the time, they weren’t in the circle of people dealing with those issues.”
The head of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said she hopes to squash plans to cap property taxes, which Mr. Spitzer favored and Mr. Paterson has not taken a position on since taking office.
Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, suggested that the Paterson era would represent a new opportunity to press for more rights and protections for immigrants after the failure of Mr. Spitzer’s driver’s license plan.
Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn said she was “really concerned about his focus on minority- and women-owned business enterprises,” and that there was “definitely” a better chance of making that a priority now.
Councilman David Weprin said: “I think it’ll help the anti-congestion-pricing group, which I’m part of,” because “Governor Spitzer was committed to trying to get congestion pricing through, and I think he would have twisted some arms, and really lobbied for it. Governor Paterson, obviously no matter where he personally stands on the issue, is not going to use too much capital.”
It’s not possible that they’ll all get what they’re looking for. But despite that–and despite the PR bloodbath that has greeted the beginning of the Paterson era in Albany–a weird optimism persists. “I think the governor gave a clear indication that it’s going to be an administration of inclusion,” said Representative Gregory Meeks of Queens. “We’re going to see people from all parts of the state be part of it. We’re going to see that all kinds of ethnicities and religious groups will be there. And competency.”