NYC Black Leaders To Meet On Gov. Paterson's Fate
Black Democratic leaders who hold sway in Gov. David Paterson's home and political base in New York City plan to converge Thursday in a meeting that could produce influential calls for him to resign amid two misconduct scandals.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist and Harlem political fixture, is expected to say he's rethinking his support for New York's first black governor, according to a black Democratic adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The meeting is set for Thursday night at a restaurant in

Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood and follows a flurry of calls overnight in which many of the leaders reconsidered their support for Paterson. Those calls were also voiced in a similar summit Saturday in Harlem, although the group overall supported Paterson's plan to continue to serve. He had ended his campaign for a full term the day before.

The meeting "presented an opportunity to re-evaluate or determine what is necessary" in determining support for Paterson, said a second prominent black leader in New York City who attended Saturday's meeting and is invited to Thursday's, called by Sharpton.

The second Democrat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said there is increased pressure on Paterson to either tell his side of the story, which the governor has said will exonerate him, or step aside. Paterson has insisted he did nothing wrong and plans to fight the ethics charges.

The New York branch of the National Organization for Women and some elected Democrats have been calling for Paterson's resignation. The group meeting tonight is expected to renew its Saturday request to meet with Paterson to hear his side of the story and determine if he can "credibly weather this storm," the second leader said. "If not, some hard decisions have to be made."

At issue are legislative proposals critical to the black and Latino communities and Paterson's ability to advocate for them, the Democrat said.

Among the attendees, Sharpton said in a statement, are former Mayor David Dinkins; former state Comptroller and 2002 gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall; and Hazel Dukes, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Also planning to attend, according to the second Democratic leader, are U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks of Queens and Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn; state Senate President Malcolm Smith; Manhattan Democratic Chairman Keith Wright, a veteran assemblyman; Bronx Democratic Chairman Carl Heastie, an assemblyman; Assemblyman Michael Benjamin of the Bronx; Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who relinquished his House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship Wednesday because of ethics inquiries, isn't expected.

Paterson represented Harlem for 20 years in the state Senate before becoming lieutenant governor in 2006, then governor in 2008, when Eliot Spitzer stepped down during a prostitution scandal.

The news about the Manhattan meeting contrasted with a statement Thursday by an organization of black police officers who stepped up to show support for Paterson. The group, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, urged an end to what it called a "rush to judgment."

Still, the damage was mounting in the wake of the scandal plaguing Paterson over contact he and others in his administration had with a woman who had accused a top aide of roughing her up on

Halloween. At issue is whether Paterson or others urged the woman to drop her complaint.

The ethics charges brought by the state Public Integrity Commission allege that Paterson sought and obtained free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series and then may have lied about his intention to pay for them, according to a state report.

He faces penalties of nearly $100,000, and the case was referred to the Albany County prosecutor's office and the state attorney general for possible criminal investigation into whether Paterson or anyone else lied to the commission or backdated a check.

The ethics charge isn't directly related to the scandal over the aide. But the panel said the aide, David Johnson, was one of Paterson's four guests, along with Paterson's son and a son's friend, getting tickets for the Oct. 28 World Series game provided by the Yankees.

Four days later, also in the Bronx, Johnson was accused of domestic violence by his then-girlfriend. But the ticket scandal may ultimately be more damaging to the governor, especially given the timing.

Paterson told investigators that he always intended to pay the $850 for tickets for his son and the son's friend. They were paid for with a postdated check, and the governor paid for them only when confronted by a reporter for The New York Post, the state report said.