Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Fights between big-name elected officials sometimes shape governance.
Within New York City, a rivalry from a decade ago -- between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller -- helped spawn mayoral plans for a waste-transfer station in what was Miller's Upper East Side district. The project still drives local controversy.
On a bigger stage, the city's mayors and the state's governors have crossed swords from the start. "Every mayor and every governor have had different agendas since the 18th century," said Democratic political consultant Evan Stavisky.
That's why, Stavisky says, the current tension between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo "is nothing new and, quite frankly, overblown."
Cuomo and de Blasio may not be in love, but they aren't at war. Deeper feelings if any, fond or foul, seem beside the point. The two men push different agendas, play to different constituencies, and project different personas.
Even so, Cuomo generated an excess of chatter last month in Albany by scheduling a public appearance while de Blasio was in town testifying for hours before legislative committees. For citizens, the impact of this coincidence or noncoincidence amounts to zero.
De Blasio and Cuomo disagree on education policies. De Blasio wants mayoral control over city schools made permanent; Cuomo says a three-year legal extension is sufficient. Still, nobody's about to restore the much-maligned board of education, which formerly ran the schools.
Their stances differ sharply on charter schools as do their statements on high-stakes testing. This year, Cuomo tangles with teacher unions while de Blasio finds detractors in the police unions. Both favor mininum-wage hikes, though they differ on key details.
Perhaps ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek, Cuomo has called their relationship the best of its kind "in modern political history," while de Blasio says "we've gotten a lot done."
That these two Democrats work to maintain cordial appearances at all might be noteworthy, having walked divergent paths to power. De Blasio came up as a "movement" progressive, an operative allied with labor groups and party officials, then served in the City Council. Cuomo, a second-generation governor, ran a federal agency and investigated and prosecuted cases as state attorney general. He displays a willingness to prod, challenge and throw others in government off-balance. De Blasio seems to have an aversion to looking highhanded.
Tension does come with the terrain. "One piece of that inherent tension is that the city is a subdivision of the state," said Robert Bellafiore, an Albany-based communications consultant. He added hyperbolically: "The mayor can't rearrange the garbage pails on Third Avenue without an act of the legislature, which means having to go ask some guy from Herkimer County for his support. However, the mayor is often seen as a larger political figure than the governor, since he plays in the world's largest media market."
One recent de Blasio housing proposal that would use state land in the Sunnyside Yards in Queens met with cold, swift and public rejection from Cuomo. But rather than signal a feud, that may just be how they roll in the executive chamber. At least they didn't keep de Blasio waiting for an answer.