The father of an autistic child who, in 2007, died while in the care of state health workers said he might take legal action against Gov. David Paterson, who vetoed legislation that would have increased the penalty for neglecting the disabled.
Michael Carey spoke from the headquarters of the Jonathan Carey Foundation in Delmar on Thursday, Sept. 17, flanked by copies of the six laws his advocacy efforts have helped pass. Carey said Paterson's veto is in stark contrast to the understanding he had with the governor's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer.
I'm furious that the governor has vetoed this bill, said Carey. "We had word the governor's office was in full agreement with this bill."
Bill A.6349, which has passed the Senate and Assembly, would up the crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person from a misdemeanor to a felony.
In his signing notes, Paterson said that he supports the goals of the bill but felt it was too broadly written.
"Regarding the preferred intent of the bill, and in regard of the broader goalsit's not what the intent of the bill is, it's how the bill's written," said Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Paterson's office.
In his statement, the governor noted that since caregivers are the ones most likely to be charged with these offenses, greater clarity should be lent to the term "incompetent," in particular, before anyone is subject to something as serious as felony charges.
Carey went on to say he has asked the governor to pass the bill by way of executive order. In the event Paterson fails to do so, Carey threatened legal action.
"I believe what the governor's done is disgraceful. It's a constitutional rights violation," Carey said.
The governor's office also pointed to a list of groups and agencies that supported Paterson's veto, including the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York state, the InterAgency Council of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc, among others.