The departure of David Paterson’s top aide, Charles O’Byrne, is welcome news to some lawmakers who found him abrasive, cold, and uninterested in building consensus.
But the loss was also called “devastating,” by one Democratic assemblyman who noted that since Paterson is blind, he literally relied on O’Byrne to be his eyes around Albany and, for that matter, the rest of New York.
“It’s devastating,” said this lawmaker, who asked not to be named. “David Paterson has relied on O’Byrne to an unprecedented extent. I would think it would take David some time to develop the same kind of trust in someone else in order to fill that role.”
“He only knows what’s going on around him from what he is told. And the person primarily doing the telling is O’Byrne.”
This source also noted the unfortunate timing of O’Byrne’s departure. “Going into this budget negotiation, which will be very difficult, it leaves David without his most trusted adviser.”
But replacing O’Byrne does provide Paterson with a chance to heal some emerging rifts with the legislature, a body he served in for more than two decades and whose opposition proved fatal to his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer.
“It’s a loss for David but it might be an opportunity to start fresh.”
“There is a lot of ill will between the second floor and the legislature,” said this same lawmaker. “It started with the special session, which was not essential, except for Paterson, politically. Then, suggesting we were on vacation and the comment that we were bloodsuckers,” the source said, referring to what Paterson later described as a misunderstood metaphor about lawmakers’ tendency to want to spend more money than the budget allows, no matter the circumstances.”