Cuomo’s Betrayal

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The biggest and worst problem plaguing Albany and New York State politics is corruption. Albany’s especial brand of dysfunction thrives in an opaque environment, and there is a complete and bipartisan absence of political or moral will to change it. It’s been well over a decade since people and organizations began to seriously address this culture of corruption, and NYU’s Brennan Center deserves kudos for pushing the issue with specificity

It was almost a decade ago that Suffolk County Executive Tom Suozzi barnstormed the state, seeking the Democractic nomination for governor under the banner of “Fix Albany”. We send Assemblypeople and Senators to Albany, and while we see occasional profiles in courage, like Mark Grisanti’s pivotal vote on same-sex marriage, these individuals do little legislating and a lot of grandstanding. Nothing ever changes, and there’s no one who’s all that interested in cleaning Albany up. 

Enter Andrew Cuomo, a former Attorney General who swept into Albany to get things done, but also to restore trust in state institutions. While he has infuriated the gun-hugging areas of the state outside the NYC media market, he has now successfully angered the left, most starkly by helping to maintain a Republican Senate majority. In order to secure the Working Families Party’s Wilson Pakula, Cuomo decided to actually back members of his own party to win Senate races. 

But his most promising act was to establish a “Moreland Commission” to investigate corruption in Albany – most importantly, the misuse and corruption surrounding campaign finance in the state. This dovetailed nicely with Cuomo’s now-erstwhile support for public financing of elections – a goal he all but abandoned in order to “get things done” with respect to a budget deal with the other two men in the room. (That hasn’t changed, either). 

This New York Times article is a blockbuster of investigative journalism, outlining the ways in which Governor Cuomo’s office micromanaged and hamstrung the work the Moreland Commission was doing before he unceremoniously and summarily killed it in order to “get things done” viz. budget deal with Silver and Skelos. Here is a brilliant timeline that the Times put together. Luckily, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, is picking up where the defunct commission left off, investigating and prosecuting obvious illegality. 

I frankly don’t get it. If Cuomo’s aim is to ascend to the White House, he’s just dealt himself a huge blow. It won’t do much to say, “I fixed Buffalo, the unfixable” when opponents and allies alike view him with distrust because when it came time to address the state’s most pressing problem, Cuomo whiffed. 

He didn’t just whiff – he threw the game. 

I’m not going to support Astorino, and Zephyr Teachout lost me by holding a “Cuomo resign” presser with Astorino. It’s high time we stopped demanding resignation and impeachment every time a politician does something stupid or with which we disagree. It’s stupid and childish.

I want someone to say that the NY SAFE Act is a distraction from the real problems we have, like unfunded mandates, the Gap Elimination Adjustment robbing schools blind, the completely unregulated and mismanaged state Authorities, our corrupt and corrupting Wilson Pakula/electoral fusion system whereby party endorsements are exchanged for money and jobs, and the toothless, ineffective board of elections that is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute campaign finance fraud. These are all long-standing issues, and very well known. But New York has a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, and for some reason elected officials have no will to fight that tyranny of the careerists. Even, tragically, Andrew Cuomo. 

Getting things done is great, and it’s a welcome change from the feckless Pataki Adminstration. But New York Democrats have had almost 10 years to do something meaningful about not just the symptoms, but the root causes of why the state underperforms economically – especially outside of the New York City metro. 

Four years ago, a New York Observer article wrote that mine was the “Site that Saved Andrew Cuomo”. I don’t – for a second – doubt, question, or regret my 2010 support for Cuomo over Carl Paladino. But in 2014, the continued state gutting of public school budgets, tyranny of the Authorities, continued erosion of public trust through “electoral fusion” dealmaking,  and Albany’s unwillingness to heal itself make me wish for a true alternative – not just a Westchester County apparatchik or a leftist Manhattan protest candidate. 

New York isn’t broken because of the number of bullets you can put in a magazine is now restricted. But your focus on things like that help to distract you from genuine problems that affect us all. 

22 comments

  • Andrew Cuomo is the personification of just how inherently corrupt our political system has become. He goes beyond the usual partisan party politic problem that pervades the system in general. Andrew is all about Andrew and nothing else. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing. He claims to be all for the people not the special interests/corps/rich people (typical dem. talking points) and at the same time he doles out million/billions in corporate welfare and submarines his own party by backing the republicans This guy is as dirty as they come. The idea he has that he thinks he can actually be elected president is laughable at best as he would be found out & summarily vilified during the primary process. But that wont stop somebody like Andy as he cant see beyond his own personal wants/desires…..

    • Andrew Cuomo is the personification of just how inherently corrupt our political system has become.

      And he’s a Democrat. Go figure.

  • It’s a shame he is such an obvious dirtbag, and now makes zero effort to hide it. There’s almost zero chance he’ll fall to Astorino in the upcoming election, but the election will most certainly open a whole bunch of seams in what Andy probably thinks is a sound political machine. The Moreland Comm, farcical and hamstringed as it may have been, was the embodiment of a new effort to clean up Albany. To see it cut down just to secure votes is not at all surprising, but certainly comes with a greater sting than if the commission just ran its course and issue a toothless sound and fury publication which would inevitably no nowhere.

    The obvious plus side to all this I suppose, is that the commission obviously found some particularly ugly stuff in its short existence. And because of that I really hope that Bharara is a ruthless mofo.

    Alfred E. Neuman should fare pretty well this November methinks.

  • The size and scope of government is the root cause of corruption.

  • Cuomo’s thuggery was evident in his reign at HUD, in 1998. And it was on the same issue — government oversight. When HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney got a little to close to Cuomo’s corruption, he treated her like the Moreland Commission. Eventually she filed a sexual discrimination and harassment complaint against him.

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1998-09-10/news/1998253133_1_susan-gaffney-dirty-tricks-cuomo

  • The SAFE Act is not a distraction from the “real issues”. Regardless of whether you agree with it’s contents, the manner in which it was passed is most certainly an indicator of the corruption and backroom politics at hand. I watched the Senate proceedings in realtime. They were handed the bill, and within 45 minutes, they were called into a room to convene away from teh view of the camera. Several senators on both sides tweeted semi-vague reports of what was happening in that room, stating that they were told by Dean Skelos that they were not allowed to leave the room until the bill was passed. There was no opportunity for debate until AFTER the agreement was reached.

    Secondly, the SAFE Act was not written by Cuomo or any of our representatives. It was drafted by Mike Bloomberg’s group as well as the Brady Center and handed to the governor. Perhaps I’m naive and this sort of thing happens all the time, but I would like to think that legislation should be written by the people we elect, not by outside parties with an extreme bias one way or another.

    • Your naïve ( no insult intended) this is how many laws are written whether state or federal…..

    • What I find interesting is if the SAFE act bolstered peoples ability to buy more and bigger weapons rather than shrinking them, would it still be “backroom politics and corruption”? Probably the other side would be raising hell, right? My point is this crap goes on because the people it suits look the other way. We all should stand against bad government but we don’t when the result appeals to us.

  • “I’m not going to support Astorino, and Zephyr Teachout lost me by holding a “Cuomo resign” presser with Astorino.”

    The article you link to does not support this claim.

  • Okay will try not to troll here Alan 🙂

    Good post, I doubt I will vote for Cuomo, however I also doubt I will vote for (Vladimir) Asterino. (For the record you trolled his name vladimir for me).

    I am interested in Tim Wu and wish him well. I really like his writing and books. I like the attitude I see with Teachout.

  • Alan i was with you for the first 70 percent of this article but you lost me after that. It is a mistake to presume that people who are of a different viewpoint or less Liberal on some issues are all a bunch of gun nuts.Some are but most are not. I think we can all agree that Cuomo is corrupt at a very fundamental level.How could you vote for a inherently corrupt person?While Teachout and Astorino are flawed i challenge you to really listen to what they have to offer.Neither is a dud.Both are intelligent without the Cuomo baggage.They have different ideas and agendas.I for one could never vote for Cuomo again.It appears that he is downright evil.

  • Cure for Cancer

    Andy is a true scumbag and has been a scumbag since day 1. If NY’ers still fail to see this after 4 years and re-elect him come this November NY voters are plain and simple VERY STUPID!!!!. This will be your’re “ultimate” IQ test NY’ers.

  • DysfunctionalEquivalent

    Alan, it’s interesting that you can’t break completely free of your embrace of Cuomo. This is more than “doing something stupid”. This is an impeachable offense. It’s criminal in a big way. We’re talking about the deputized AG’s who were repeatedly thwarted in their attempt to stop corruption of significant magnitude. Cuomo “threw the game” because his arrogance makes him believe that he can do anything he wants.

  • Some remarkably able and agile comments, Alan.

    I have the same allegiance to Cuomo that just disdains the cardboard cut out that is Astorino and for that matter any meaningful competition of ideas from the Republicans.

    We have a choice of pretty thin gruel’s in all of the offices of the state. Are all the achievers chasing Hedge Funds or something beneficial to the soul and wallet?

    I see the words and deeds of the WNY state delegation with dismay. There just is no depth no real ability except to get re-elacted and not indicted by any of them.

    There is not much of a better batch across the state. In New York we are represented by time servers and career incumbents content to let the lobbyists make policy.

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