David Paterson: Gone, But Not Absent

ALBANY—As it turns out, technology makes it possible to have a governor who is both on the other side of the world, but not considered “effectively absent.”

I discovered this earlier today, after a reader pointed out that the State Constitution says the lieutenant governor will act as governor “in case the governor is impeached, is absent from the state or is otherwise unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office.”

David Paterson is in Iraq, and since there is no lieutenant governor,  that task falls to the president pro tempore of the State Senate, Dean Skelos.

Or so I thought.

Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein says the governor’s lawyers do not believe he is “effectively absent” from New York.

“The Governor is not effectively absent and therefore remains in charge,” Shorenstein said. “He is in constant communication and continues to exercise the powers of his office. Should circumstances arise where he is unable to perform his duties, we would promptly notify Mr. Skelos.”

The idea of “effective absence” seems to have changed since the Blackberry.

I asked Skelos spokesman Mark Hansen if Skelos, in the event that he had to take charge, would use his powers to do anything rash. like, say, invade New Jersey.

He said no.

“It’s what is called for under the constitution, and it’s pretty routine,” Hansen said.

Paterson is due back later this week, sometime before Christmas.

David Paterson: Gone, But Not Absent