Gov. Paterson told radio host John Gambling this morning that although arbitrators in the MTA-TWU case “probably made the correct ruling technically” to give transit workers 11.3 percent raises over three years because the rest of the city’s labor unions got similarly big raises, “in reality, we don’t have the money,” the Daily News reports.

People likely will focus on the second half of Paterson’s remarks — that we don’t have the money — as the big soundbite. But taken together, the entire statement is nonsensical and self-nullifying.

Paterson knows — or should know — that with the MTA having appealed the arbitrators’ award, it’s up to a court now to decide the case. The court is largely ruling on the “technicality,” as Paterson put it,” of whether or not the MTA “has the money,” because one of the key disputes is whether the arbitrators ruled on the MTA’s “ability to pay” properly, as it must do under the law.

So, if Paterson believes the second part of his statement, then it makes the first part of his statement untrue; if the MTA does not have the ability to pay, then, the arbitrators did not rule correctly.

The reverse is true, too. If Paterson believes that the arbitrators made the right the decision on a “technicality,” the second part of his remarks is just an empty protest. The governor, in that case, wants public credit for at least pretending to care, while hoping for political credit from the TWU when/if the raises are eventually paid out, anyway.

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