Wednesday, December 13, 2006

You’re a good man Governor Pataki:

With the days of the Pataki era winding down, I thought I would take a moment to do something no one else is, say thank you.

In an age of immediate gratification, Americans today seem to barely remember last week let alone 12 years ago. When Pataki first ran for Governor in 1994, New Yorkers were a fed up bunch. Crime in the State was high. I remember as a teenager in Queens, to hear someone was mugged, their house robbed or car stolen was no big shocker. So it was no big surprise that one of the main reasons Pataki defeated Governor Cuomo was because crime had just gotten out of control.

By now most New Yorkers have forgotten the popular case of Arthur Shawcross who after killing two young children was allowed to get a plea bargain where he ended up serving just 15 out of a 25 year sentence. The real story that shocked New Yorkers was that after his release he went on to claim a dozen new victims. It was this story and the personal experiences like the one I shared above that gave Pataki the edge and why the death penalty issue, which no one understands how today, was front and center.

After Gov. Pataki’s 12 years in office, crime in New York State has declined a whopping 47% since his election in 1994. In the Queens neighborhood I still live today, to hear about a mugging or robbery would bring shock to peoples faces.

Besides leading over a major drop in crime, Governor Pataki is leaving us with a State that has experienced economic prosperity. Despite the challenges of upstate New York, overall the State’s unemployment rate is at record lows and the values of New Yorker’s property are at record highs. Today Long Island is home to a large upper middle class with more construction under way. Though Gov. Pataki shouldn’t take full responsibility, as leader of the State who would ultimately get full blame if the opposite were to occur, he should get a big pat on the back for where we are today.

Besides lower crime and a growing economy there are other events under Governor Pataki that shouldn’t be forgotten. It was Governor Pataki who signed into law the Family Health Plus plan that provides health care for low-income families.

When it came to the environment he preserved countless acres of land statewide and his 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act is something every New Yorker should be thankful for and by far his most underappreciated achievement. Thanks to this policy New Yorkers and future ones will enjoy clean water for decades.

Governor Pataki may not be perfect but what he did was leave New York better then he found it, something his predecessor couldn’t claim. As Spitzer steps forward and takes control all I can say is he has some big shoes to fill.

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