Governor David Paterson paid a visit to the Bronx and spoke about shared sacrifice in the economic downturn. He boldly asserted that that borough has disproportionally borne the brunt of the state’s economic problems.
Paterson spent two hours answering audience questions on everything from funding of education programs for adults to preventing the state from going bankrupt at a town hall meeting at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theater on Tuesday, December 15.
Assemblyman Carl Heastie, Bronx Democratic Committee chairman, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., hosted the program, titled “A Community Conversation with Governor David A. Paterson.”
“He became governor in one of the most difficult financial environments in the nation’s history,” Heastie said of Paterson. “I think the governor has done a great job in keeping the state solvent.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz introduced Paterson and moderated questions from a packed crowd that include people from all spectrums community life. Elected officials past and present included former Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene, Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman Nelson Castro, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, Councilmember Oliver Koppell, and former Councilwoman June Eisland.
One of the main issues that Paterson spoke of was unemployment, noting the borough has the highest unemployment rate of any county in the state.
“The unemployment rate in the Bronx is 13.4 percent, and that does not include people who have been dropped from the rolls,” Paterson said. “We believe that 21 out of every 100 able-bodied men and women in the borough are not working. This is a depression-like state.”
Paterson said that he thought the wrong people were announcing economic recovery when ordinary people were still suffering from job loss and home mortgage defaults.
“The wrong people are doing the talking [about the economy],” Paterson said. “You don’t measure a recession by [Gross Domestic Product]. You measure it by the unemployment rate.”
David Hochhauser of the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps asked Paterson about providing state funding for emergency medical technician training and supplies.
“Our ambulance corps. needs more volunteers, and we need money for training and medical supplies,” Hochhauser said. “I asked the governor if we could get some money for train our EMTs. There used to be a state fund for EMT classes, but that has gone by the wayside.”
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org