Friday, May 01, 2009

Shhh! Gov. Paterson Secretly Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Just imagine if this were a white governor and the roles were reversed, the condemnation would be thunderous. Even worse if it were a Republican. But I guess if you're a Democrat you're allowed to be racist. Oh, wait. That may be too harsh. Show racist tendencies.
Gov. Paterson, who raised state taxes by $8 billion last month, just cost state taxpayers $300,000 more.

The state has secretly settled an embarrassing federal racial-discrimination lawsuit, The Post has learned. The suit accused Paterson, back when he was Senate minority leader in 2003, of firing a white Senate photographer in order to replace him with an African-American.

The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial in federal court Monday in Syracuse, with Paterson, the state's first black governor, as a key witness. The case was settled earlier in the week, although a few glitches delayed the final deal until yesterday, legislative sources said.

The settlement ends a civil-rights action first filed in 2005 by Joseph Maioriello, 56, of Schenectady, a 26-year Senate employee who originally sought $1.5 million.

He was fired from his $34,000-a-year job as a photographer two years earlier and replaced by a black employee, El-Wise Noisette. The shakeup happened after Paterson ousted then-Sen. Martin Connor (D-Brooklyn) as the minority leader.

Connor was expected to testify that Maioriello was a good photographer.

While neither Paterson nor the state admitted that Maioriello was a victim of racial discrimination, the size of the settlement means "that the state wouldn't have made out very well if it had gone to trial," said a source close to the lawsuit.

"If nothing wrong happened, why is the state paying out this kind of money?" the source asked.

Through it all, Paterson managed to maintain that notoriously sharp wit of his.
Paterson, who is legally blind, claimed in a sworn deposition that he didn't see well enough to have fired Maioriello because of his race.

A spokesman for Paterson later said the comment was "a quip, a joke."
Nobody's laughing.

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