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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Sandy brings Cuomo's comforting presence to LI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Long Beach.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Long Beach. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spent a lot of time on Long Island as Sandy made her way across the region. On Sunday, he was at Nassau's Office of Emergency Management in Bethpage; Monday, Cuomo was at the local National Guard headquarters in Farmingdale (twice) and on the Long Beach boardwalk making announcements, offering support and praising efforts of local officials.

His presence means a lot to a region -- especially in the midst of a storm the likes of which Nassau and Suffolk haven't suffered in decades -- that too often is overlooked by New York State.

"A lot of governors are New York City-centric," agreed Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Edward Mangano, Nassau's county executive. "This governor has proven that he is not like that."

Indeed, Cuomo went out of his way Monday to praise Mangano and Steve Bellone, Suffolk's county executive, for their leadership during the storm.

For Mangano, the compliments from Cuomo, with whom he has a close personal relationship, were a needed lift from the past few weeks of turmoil.

Last week alone, Mangano attended the funeral of one police officer only to have another brutally killed the next day, suffered a Wall Street bond rating decrease and lost the Islanders hockey team to Brooklyn.

For Bellone, who is dealing with a fiscal crisis in Suffolk, too, Cuomo's visit had meaning as well. The governor had endorsed Bellone, a fellow Democrat, for county executive.

But Cuomo's visits benefit the governor, too.

For one, Cuomo is proud of interparty cooperation on the state level. One key to continued cooperation is Dean Skelos, the Senate's majority leader, who, like Mangano, is a Nassau Republican.

Cuomo could benefit in other ways, too.

When times are toughest, people tend to remember those who come through with help.

For Cuomo, those efforts could come back a thousandfold in suburban votes. Or better, since New York is a Democratic state, contributions for his re-election campaign. And four years from now, should Cuomo decide to jump in, for a U.S. presidential run.

Cuomo was quick to offer help to Long Island by providing National Guard members to bolster local storm efforts by, among other duties, keeping watch on evacuated neighborhoods.

He also won (easy) points by taking on the Long Island Power Authority, twice publicly pressuring the utility to more effectively respond to customers and quickly make needed repairs than it did during last year's Tropical Storm Irene.

"In my opinion, LIPA was wholly inadequate in dealing with the aftermath of the storm," Cuomo told News 12 Long Island in an interview.

"LIPA says they get it and they've learned their lesson, but we're going to send a monitor from the state of New York to monitor LIPA's response in the aftermath of this storm," Cuomo said.

Michael D. Hervey, LIPA's chief operating officer, said he welcomed the state's scrutiny. "We do not shy away from it," he said.

Long Island welcomes the scrutiny, and the state's help recovering from Sandy's aftermath, too.

It's good to have a governor by your side.

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