I actually thought Governor Andrew Cuomo started off admirably.
For one thing, he seemed sensible toward fracking. But then the antis ramped up their campaign, and Cuomo’s fracking policy became study-it-to-death and endless weaseling. Just like Obama on Keystone, cowed by the anti-progress “progressives.” Even they must be nauseated.
As to New York’s notorious gun law, I am no fan of the gun culture, but that legislation seems extreme, was rammed through with scant public consultation, and its true purpose was just to fuel Cuomo’s presidential imaginings.
But the biggest disgrace, in a word: Moreland. The stench of Albany corruption got so bad that Cuomo felt compelled to invoke the state’s Moreland Act, convening a blue-ribbon panel to investigate and make recommendations. The commission duly met a number of times, held hearings, and was in the midst of fulfilling its mandate — when Cuomo abruptly pulled the plug. The pretext for this breathtaking action (“It’s my commission,” he said) was that the purpose had been served, because it got the legislature to pass reform to clean up the mess.
And what, exactly, did this reform consist of? A state public campaign finance law. Excellent, you might say – until told that this “reform” was applicable to precisely one elected official, for precisely one year. The official happens to be State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who – coincidentally, I’m sure – happens to be in Cuomo’s dog house. And even for DiNapoli, participation in the campaign finance scheme was made optional. He promptly opted out, saying this “pilot program” was designed to fail.
But this was not the first shell game Cuomo’s played with reform. Previously it was gerrymandering – at the very heart of political dysfunction. “Gerrymandering” means drawing legislative district lines for partisan advantage. It virtually eliminates electoral competition and thus legislators’ accountability to voters. Well, Cuomo swore up and down he would not accept the redistricting required after the last census, absent a reform that took redistricting out the legislature’s hands altogether.
Guess what? A reform was enacted, giving the process to an independent commission. But the commission will have an equal number from each party. And what if it deadlocks (as it’s thus guaranteed to do)? Redistricting goes back to the legislature. In other words, another totally bogus “reform.”
Cuomo postures not only as the Great Reformer, but also the Great Tax Cutter. Needless to say, the tax cuts are equally a sham (and New York’s business climate remains 50th out of 50 states). But the scheme will have the state send every taxpayer a rebate check. No doubt with Cuomo’s name prominently displayed. This will be in October – right before the election, when voters can show their gratitude.
OK, I’m back. Now, where was I? So — Republicans will nominate Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who seems a very reasonable guy with a strong record of accomplishment (including genuine tax and budget cutting). So far his campaign has focused on a factual deconstruction of Cuomo’s record. In contrast Cuomo, with his bulging $30+ million re-election war chest, has rushed out TV ads smearing Astorino. One ad says he’s “so far right he’s wrong for New York.”
This uncannily echoes a recent Cuomo comment that people with right wing views – which apparently means any views different from Cuomo’s – don’t belong in New York State. (Yet again we see the tortured relationship “progressives” have with freedom of thought and expression.) Cuomo’s remark justly elicited a barrage of condemnation. But not, apparently, enough to deter using the same tar-brush on Astorino. Never mind that there’s actually no basis for calling Astorino “right wing,” let alone “far right.” It’s simply name-calling, unashamedly cynical, based on the proposition that if you fling enough mud, some will stick.
Another ad says Astorino as County Executive is “in violation of anti-discrimination laws,” all but calling him a racist bigot. The grounds for this incendiary accusation? Westchester County’s opposing federal government efforts to seize control of the county’s public housing.
But one final thing: somebody please inform Cuomo that loud yelling isn’t eloquence.