Andrew Cuomo ran for governor in 2010 pledging to “clean up” Albany political corruption.
Back in May, I wrote of the Moreland Commission, a blue-ribbon panel Cuomo set up to investigate Albany. Before it finished, Cuomo pulled the plug, saying it’s his own commission so he can do with it as he likes. His pretext was that its purpose had been accomplished, the legislature having passed a campaign-finance reform. Only that “reform” was the joke of the year (applicable to one office-holder, for one election.)
To me, it all stank to high heaven. Then in July, The New York Times published an extensive investigative report on the Moreland Commission – showing how Cuomo and his stooges systematically interfered with, manipulated, and hobbled its work, trying to stop its investigation getting close to Cuomo or his campaign donors.
In launching the commission, Cuomo had repeatedly said it would be free to investigate anything in state government including the executive branch. After the NYT exposé, Cuomo asserted the commission could not investigate the executive branch because it was a creature thereof (not only contradicting his own prior words, but clear nonsense). He also waved about a statement just released by one commission member disavowing any interference – a statement obviously solicited by, and probably drafted by, Cuomo’s team.
Thereupon, Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, who’d also been investigating the Moreland miasma, sent Cuomo a stern letter cautioning him against witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Since Watergate, it’s a cliché that the cover-up is worse than the crime, and it’s been applied to Cuomo. But here, the crime itself was pretty awful, a cesspool of manipulation and mendacity, selling down the river any hope of the “clean up” New York was promised.
I’ve also written about the Cuomo administration’s dishonest manipulation of a referendum authorizing new casinos. But the real crime is Cuomo’s betting New York’s future on casinos (and the economics of predation upon poor suckers).* Since the vote, the news has been full of casino decline. Casinos were successful and lucrative when they were few and far between. With casinos everywhere now it’s a very different story, of over-saturation. As Times-Union columnist Fred LeBrun put it, New York is too late to cash in on the casino “boom,” but not to reap all the downsides. Nice play, Guv.
This year we have another referendum, to approve another of Cuomo’s sham “reforms,” this one on legislative redistricting (not a mere technical issue, it’s crucial to political control). And once again the ballot wording is blatantly deceptive. It makes it sound like an independent body will control redistricting. However, it won’t be independent, but a creature of the legislature, which can anyway reject the “independent” body’s maps and once more do its own – which the ballot question does not mention! So we’re being asked to vote for a lie. This will actually entrench gerrymandering. And also forever entrench the Democratic party (once Republicans inevitably lose the State Senate). A one-party state is not compatible with democracy.
Cuomo is opposed in the September 9 primary by Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Rain Teachout (her real name). His bullyboy attempts to knock her off the ballot, using New York’s arcane election laws, first by challenging the signatures on her nominating petitions, and then her residency, failed. (So New York is not quite Soviet yet.) Cuomo has refused to debate her. (Debates can be a “disservice to democracy,” he declared!) Teachout is a darling of “progressives”**, and I disagree with her on many issues (like fracking). But something more important is at stake. There are standards. So between Zephyr Teachout and Moreland Cuomo, my strong endorsement goes to Teachout. (And running mate Tim Wu for Lt. Gov.)
Cuomo’s Republican challenger is Rob Astorino. The governor will use his huge campaign war-chest (stuffed by the special interests he dissolved the Moreland commission to shield) to blanket the state with TV ads shamefully smearing Astorino. Our local paper, the Times-Union, though it ran absolutely blistering editorials about the Moreland scandal and redistricting, will turn around and endorse Cuomo’s re-election. (The T-U has long been a reliably partisan cheerleader for Democrats.) Similarly, The New York Times, despite its exposé, will endorse him.***
Cuomo will win.
I will throw up.
Those are my predictions. (Some optimist, huh?)
* Slot machines do not work randomly. They are programmed to pay out just often enough to string players along.
** A viewer poll by PBS’s “New York Now” show – which they cautioned is not scientific — gave Teachout 93% of the vote!!
*** The Times refused to endorse him in the primary, but would not endorse Teachout, citing lack of experience. Because experienced politicians have served us so well?? The Times did endorse Wu. The Times-Union has been strangely silent about a primary endorsement.