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Cuomo won’t quit, but some think he should

The hits keep on coming for former NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo, yet for some reason, the man continues to put out campaign rhetoric, despite the fact he hasn’t even announced plans to run for office.

His new pseudo-campaign advertisement certainly raised a few eyebrows, considering his reluctant resignation from office last August amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment by former aides. In his commercial, Cuomo appears apologetic, admitting “I haven’t been perfect. I’ve made mistakes. But I also made a difference.”

Cuomo says that he believes “cancel culture” and “political attacks” contributed to his early departure from office, claiming that reports conducted by Attorney General Letitia James are full of “omissions and inaccuracies.”

In addition to the sexual harassment scandal, he has been heavily criticized for his misuse of government resources to write a $5 million memoir and deliberately altering the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes to inflate the perception of New York’s performance. (Not to mention the accusations against his brother, former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo).

Earlier this week State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the findings of an internal audit, uncovering that a persistent lack of funding over the last decade forced the NYS Department of Health to operate without critical information systems and staff that could’ve helped identify and limit the spread of COVID-19 within nursing homes.

The audit uncovered that the health department understated the number of nursing home deaths by at least 4,100 people and that Cuomo used his executive authority to control infromation provided to the public.

“The pandemic was devastating and deadly for New Yorkers living in nursing homes. Families have a right to know if their loved one’s COVID-19 death was counted, but many still don’t have answers from the state Department of Health,” DiNapoli stated. “Our audit findings are extremely troubling. The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth. The pandemic is not over, and I am hopeful the current administration will make changes to improve accountability and protect lives. An important step would be for DOH to provide the families who lost loved ones with answers as to the actual number of nursing homes residents who died. These families are still grieving, and they deserve no less.”

The fact the numbers were so easily suppressed speaks volumes about the level of corruption that exists in Albany.

Nevertheless, new polling data provided from The Hill and Emerson College, show that despite everything, were he to attempt to make a bid for his former office, he could potentially have a chance at beating his successor, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The poll revealed that 37 percent of Democratic primary voters would support Hochul with Cuomo pulling in close behind at 33 percent. Meanwhile, current contenders U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams polled in seven and four percent of voters respectively.

The poll also revealed that 59 percent of voters polled trusted the findings of AG Letitia James.

Cuomo’s recent “God isn’t finished with me yet” performance at a Brooklyn church furthered the rumors of his potential run for re-election, much to the chagrin of several other Democrats, who are hoping he won’t run again.

Jay Jacobs, the chair of the NY Democratic party, told CNBC that he thinks running for office would be a “bad mistake” for Cuomo, who claims that he is open to the idea of creating his own political party in order to try and reclaim his seat, instead of attempting to secure the Democratic nomination.

But Jacobs isn’t the only one opposed to having Cuomo run for office.

NYS Assemblyman Ron Kim, chair of the aging committee, slammed the former Governor and his administration, stating that the findings of DiNapoli’s audit “verified public fraud at the highest level of state government.”

“Cuomo suppressed and covered up life-and-death data while pursuing a multi-million dollar book deal,” Kim states. “His actions were never about protecting our most vulnerable, they were about pure egotism and self-enrichment at the cost of others’ lives.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, another of the Democratic candidates in the race for Governor, also commented on Cuomo’s continued attempts to discredit the findings of the state AG, calling his “cancel culture” remarks a sign of his “unbridled hubris and insistence to deny responsibility, dodge accountability and gaslight the masses.”

Despite the opinions of elected officials within his own party, based on the polls, there are certainly a number of New Yorkers standing in Cuomo’s corner regardless of the harassment scandal, book deal, and nursing home audit. However, it still remains unclear if he intends to run in the upcoming election.

The Summer of Blaz

Who had a better summer than Mayor Bill de Blasio? Ever since Governor Andrew Cuomo completed his stunning fall from grace, the mayor has had a whole new attitude.
Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like the mayor is a lot more carefree, despite all of the issues facing the city, including the controversy surrounding school reopenings and vaccine mandates, his decision to send all city workers back to the office, and the mess on Rikers Island.
When he gets questioned on those decisions, he seems a lot more confident and less defensive than he did when Cuomo was constantly calling him out in public.
And what does a mayor whose feeling himself do? He demands a bulldozer and then uses it to crush some illegal dirt bikes confiscated by the police, which is exactly what he did on Staten Island recently.
Now he’s taking on world leaders. The mayor told Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to not bother coming to the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week, as the unvaccinated Bolsonaro would be in violation of the city’s vaccine mandate.
“We need to send a message to all the world leaders, including most notably Bolsonaro from Brazil, that if you intend to come here, you need to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said during his daily City Hall news conference.
Of course, de Blasio can’t stop Bolsonaro from coming to New York City, so the demand is futile and the South American leader still gave the first speech of the annual meeting on Tuesday.
But de Blasio could theoretically tail Bolsonaro and his party and keep them from dining in restaurants or entering bars and clubs.
Of course, if Bolsonaro pulls the same stunt as the tourists from Texas who caused a fracas when they were denied entry to a restaurant, there’s not much de Blasio could do: Bolsonaro enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Fall starts this week, so as far as the calendar is concerned, the “Summer of Blaz” is coming to end, but we’ll see if de Blasio can ride his newfound confidence all the way through to the end of his term on December 31.

Don’t pick your heroes from politics

Kathy C. Hochul is now officially the Governor of New York.
When the former Congresswoman from Buffalo was sworn in on Tuesday, she was making history as the first woman to ever hold the State’s highest office.
And indeed, her governorship is a historic moment that deserves to be celebrated. New York has been home to a passionate feminist movement since even before the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, yet somehow the State has never had a woman governor.
Yet Hochul’s term begins as that of her predecessor — Andrew Cuomo — ends in absolute disgrace. So while it is worth celebrating her achievement and the achievement of the State as a whole, the beginning of this new governorship is a time for New Yorkers to reflect on how we got here.
To put it lightly, Cuomo went down in flames. But even before his astronomical fall from grace, there were plenty of red flags. Cuomo was a classic, egotistical, old-school type of New York politician. That was clear since day one.
However, the former Governor’s capable response to the COVID-19 pandemic — at least compared to the absolutely abysmal leadership of governors from other, mostly republican, states — quickly earned the otherwise lackluster politician a new degree of national celebrity.
His daily press conferences about microbes and masks took the television slot of daytime soap operas, and became a strangely comforting cottage industry during the pandemic’s early days. Appearances on national TV shows soon followed. Then a book deal.
And just like that, Andrew Cuomo was becoming a hero to people. What a terrible mistake.
No matter how much we agree with a politician’s policy’s or beliefs, we should never put them on a pedestal so high that we can’t hold them accountable for their actions. The fanfare surrounding Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic was too much for a public servant, but as is too often the case, service is the last thing we think about when we discuss politicians. Look no further than No. 45 himself, a former reality TV star turned twice impeached president who used the nation’s highest office to fuel his ego and do little else…that is an opinion piece (or two, or three) for another time though.
So as Kathy Hochul enters office, we as voters must not forget the role politicians are supposed to play in our society. Elected officials should be serving us, their constituents, rather than using our attention to serve their own egos.
Now is a time to celebrate. New York has a woman governor, which is a historic moment too long in the making. However, we must not repeat our own history of deifying the politicians who are supposed to serve our needs.

Kim exposes Cuomo

Dear Editor,
Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens is blowing the whistle on $88 million in state contracts awarded to a politically connected public relations firm.
Kim urged State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to investigate “ludicrous” state contracts given to Kivvit, a PR firm run by former Andrew Cuomo communications staffers Josh Vlasto and Rich Bamberger.
While both managing directors left Kivvit in August, the firm’s current managing partner, Maggie Moran, was Cuomo’s 2018 campaign director. The Post said Kivvit’s contracts were not subject to regular “pre-audit” procedures.
Taxpayers need to know if Kivvit get those contracts via competitive bidding or on a no-bid basis, and if our $88 million was responsibly spent.
For example, what precisely are the “strategic planning & media buying” services that cost SUNY $10 million? Could that money have been used for student financial aid instead?
Kim deserves praise for exposing this scandal, and legislators in Albany must join him in pressing for a probe. They should urge Governor Kathy Hochul to cancel Kivvit’s contracts if they were obtained via illegal or unethical practices.
Sincerely,
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Cuomo won’t go gentle into that good night

Governor Andrew Cuomo exited the Governor’s Office in disgrace, but watching his pre-taped farewell speech on Monday you would think he was departing as a beloved leader.
Why Cuomo felt the need to give a farewell speech in the first place is one of – but not the only – curious thing about his final address to the people of New York State. We heard more than enough from him when he announced his resignation, proving that the only pity he feels about the sexual harassment allegations and coverup of COVID nursing home deaths is for himself.
And right on brand, he began his 15-minute farewell with another claim of innocence regarding the sexual harassment claims. To believe Cuomo’s version of events, 11 women lied about his actions, the others who testified in the exhaustive report by Attorney General Letitia James also lied, and James was politically motivated to take Cuomo down so she massaged the facts.
“The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic,” Cuomo said. “And it worked.”
Apparently Cuomo is the only person telling the truth here. “Facts still matter,” he said, but only Cuomo’s facts.
And Cuomo would have you believe that he is resigning not because he is guilty of anything, but because he loves you and he loves New York and it’s the right thing to do.
“You know me, I am a fighter,” he said. “And my instinct is to fight this.”
In addition to restating his innocence, the speech was clearly a vehicle for Cuomo to highlight what he feels he accomplished while in office – lest we’ve all forgotten what a great governor he was and how much we’re going to miss him when he’s gone – as well as weigh in on several issues, as if his opinion on them carries any weight.
For example, we’re not sure why Cuomo decided to let us know that he is opposed to defunding the police as he is walking out the door, or why he is giving advice for the people who will serve in office after him. In fact, maybe he could take his own advice to them.
“It’s not what we say in life that matters, it’s what we do,” he said. “And the same is true for our elected officials and our government.”
And despite the controversy surrounding nursing home deaths and the fact that his publisher stopped printing his book about the state’s response to COVID because of a federal criminal investigation, he offered his opinion on dealing with coronavirus going forward.
Kathy Hochul became the first female governor when she was sworn in at midnight on Tuesday, and now the state can begin to move forward. We’re not sure what the future holds for Cuomo. A former aide was quoted on Twitter saying he has no interest in ever running for office again, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
It’s obvious from his speech that Cuomo will not be able to stay in the background for very long. He’s clearly angry and embarrassed, and those who know him attest that he doesn’t let a grudge go easily.
Just ask Mayo Bill de Blasio. Which brings us to what we think was the real point of the farewell speech: the opportunity to take one last shot at the mayor of New York City.
“Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City,” Cuomo said toward the end of his speech. “I think he will bring a new philosophy and competence to the position which can give New York City residents hope for the future.”
Mic drop!

City buses will be better with Cuomo gone

As now disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prepares to step down from his position this coming Monday, officials throughout the City and State are positioning themselves to make the most of the situation. Incoming Governor Kathy Hochul is already working on damage control, opportunistic Republicans are eyeing a victory in next year’s Gubernatorial election, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is revelling in his ‘I told you so’ routine.
However, slightly removed from the spotlight, members of the MTA and DOT have already started to adjust to the new political climate. Evidence of this can be found in the agencies’ joint announcement this week to greatly expand the City’s bus system, with more dedicated bus lanes, improved intersections, and an all-door boarding program planned for the coming two years.
While this announcement might seem askew from the goings on in Albany, it seems planned — or at least appropriate — that bus improvements will begin to be implemented directly after Cuomo’s political collapse is finally complete. The outgoing Governor never made the City’s public transit a priority, due in part to his ego-driven rivalries with former New York City Transit President Andy Byford and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
This week’s announcement could prove to be a small first step in mending the relationship between City and State governments, especially as it pertains to public services like mass transit. However, if you are not feeling that optimistic, it is at least a sign that government agencies can tackle projects that benefit New Yorkers without viewing them through the vain lens of political wins and losses.
Bus improvements are not sexy, but they are needed. More importantly though, they are possible, with even the smallest bit of coordination between different levels of government. Improving our bus system won’t score you quick political points like a new park, daily press conferences, or a bridge named after your father, but it is the right thing to do because it improves quality of life for millions of New Yorkers.
With Cuomo gone, let’s hope that the air of hostility that surrounds him will also subside, and that our government will become less political and more efficient. At the very least, let’s hope that our busses get stuck in less traffic.

Blood in the water

Dear Editor,
As Governor Andrew Cuomo enters the twilight of his political career, he has three options. The first is to resign and hope in coming years he can rehabilitate his image and career.
The second is continue to fight the inevitable impeachment by the state legislature.
The third is cling to the office and run in the June 2022 Democratic Primary for a fourth term.
Most of his former friends, be they other office holders, party leaders, major campaign contributors or union supporters have abandoned ship. A campaign war chest of $16 million will not buy him another term. Cuomo fatigue has taken root.
While he decides what to do, he will have less time to deal with other ongoing issues facing New Yorkers.
Should Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul become governor, she will likely be preoccupied with winning the June 2022 Democratic Primary to run for a full four-year term.
And being attached at the political hip to Cuomo may adversely impact her ability to win any cooperation from the state legislature.
The political sharks have already begun circling the political carcass of Cuomo, and many are now considering their own run for Governor.
Sincerely,
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Who’s mayor of NYC? Depends on who you ask

At this rate, why even waste the money holding a general election this November to decide who will be the next mayor of New York City?
Eric Adams was finally declared the winner of the Democratic Primary in the first citywide test of ranked-choice voting, edging out fellow candidates Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley. There was also a Republican Primary this year, which Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa won.
He’ll face off against Adams this November, although you wouldn’t know it by the way Adams is acting.
Adams has been taking a victory lap since he was declared the winner and, if we’re being honest, Sliwa has almost no shot at defeating Adams in the general election. That said, Adams is acting more like the next mayor of New York City than a candidate who still has an election to win later this year.
Heck, Adams isn’t even acting like the next mayor of New York City, he’s acting like THE mayor of New York City.
At the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s annual dinner at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg, Adams boldly declared “I am the mayor” as the actual mayor, Bill de Blasio, stood behind him with an uncomfortable smile frozen on his face.
Adams was greeted by a call-and-response chant of “The champ is here!” led by the party chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn.
In case you missed it, we figured we would borrow (steal?) from the Post and quote verbatim a mayoral spokesperson on the incident, because it was a pretty funny response.
“Damn. Now it’s official, I guess,” the spokesperson said. “Everyone knows that you officially assume office if you declare you’re the mayor within 10 feet of the current mayor. How do you think [late Mayor] Abe Beame got the job?”
That’s some sarcasm we can appreciate!
All of this is probably bringing Governor Andrew Cuomo a little bit of joy even after he was interviewed this past weekend by the Attorney General’s office on allegation he made unwanted sexual advances to several staffers over the years.
Cuomo and de Blasio have been locked in a long-standing feud for years, especially on the governor’s side, who never seems to miss an opportunity to attack or undermine the mayor. Some might say his preoccupation with sticking it to de Blasio sometimes comes at the expense of the general welfare of the residents of New York City.
Earlier in the same day as Adams’ declaration, Cuomo appeared at an event with Adams and declared him the next mayor of New York City and said he was very excited to work the Democratic Primary winner, something he has never said about de Blasio since he was named the Democratic nominee in 2013, when he did say he was excited to work with him.
That relationship deteriorated quickly, so we’ll see how long the love fest between Adams and Cuomo lasts after the January 1st inauguration.
And it’s not just local politicians who are ready to accept Adams as the 110th mayor of the Big Apple. Shortly after his victory was official, President Joe Biden, no less, invited Adams to the White House to discuss the rise in gun violence. We’re guessing Sliwa didn’t get the same consideration.

Heck, the current mayor of New York City, who still has six months left in office, wasn’t even invited to the Capitol pow-wow.
Speaking of the radio show host, all of this praise and attention for Adams is not sitting well with Sliwa. Sliwa said Adams is acting like a “dictator” and brought up the fact that he narrowly defeated Garcia in the primary, which he presumably believes improves his chances come November.
We don’t suppose Adams is going to pay much attention to Sliwa, and presumably will not agree to many debates, if any. If he does, it should be much-watch TV, as Sliwa will have to take every chance he gets to attack Adams.
Sliwa probably won’t be the next mayor, but maybe this campaign will help him boost his ratings!

Outdoor dining extended for another year

Last June during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed an executive order creating a one-year outdoor dining program.
After a year of widespread adoption (especially in New York City), Cuomo finally signed legislation this past Wednesday that will allow restaurants to continue operating in public spaces for another full year.
“By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State,” Cuomo said during his announcement Wednesday.
While many of the governor’s pandemic measures, including many partial closures and limits on capacity, are expiring as the city returns to normal, outdoor dining’s continuation speaks to the program’s popularity among many of the state’s residents.
Wednesday’s announcement comes on the heels of other recent developments regarding open streets.
Back in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that several streets throughout the five boroughs will be permanently transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly “Open Boulevards” starting this summer, dramatically expanding the limited street closures that currently exist.
“In a year of dramatic changes to our urban landscape, Open Boulevards will transform New York City’s streets like never before,” de Blasio explained. “The recovery for all of us will come to life on these streets, where small businesses, restaurants, artists, pedestrians, and cyclists will gather to create the kind of destination you can only find in the greatest city in the world.”
The Open Boulevard will expand upon the current provisions made for Open Streets by adding more permanent signage, landscaping, and advertising on select streets. Like Open Streets, the new boulevards will be closed to traffic to allow for outdoor dining, performance space, and pedestrian access.
Approximately $4 million has been allocated to the Open Streets program since its creation. However, the program has been subject to criticism by business owners who believe the work of placing and removing barricades has unfairly become their responsibility.

Accountability

Dear Editor,
It is very important we not let Governor Andrew Cuomo and state Health Commissioner  Howard Zucker off the hook for sending COVID patients discharged from hospitals  back into nursing homes. They had two other options: send patients to the hospital ship or the Javits Center.
To this day, they are adamant they did nothing wrong. Their negligence, arrogance, and lack of compassion caused the deaths of nearly 15,000 people.
They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Sincerely,
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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