Governor making some moves
The pandemic slideshow is back, along with the slides, the jokes, the old photos and the digs at rivals.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used a virtual speech to the Association for a Better New York on Wednesday to announce a new vaccine policy for state workers (typically, the breaking news was buried halfway through a one-hour-plus talk) but broader messaging was at work, too.
Twelve days after he was interviewed by independent investigators hired by the state attorney general, a sign that the inquiry into whether his behavior toward women who worked for him violated state law and policies was wrapping up, Cuomo was acting as if the dark cloud over his political viability was starting to pass. He was talking about competence with an air of confidence.
"We have to manage this COVID increase and it is real, but at the same time, we have to have an affirmative plan to bring back New York State and New York City. New York City is not going to come back on its own, I firmly believe that. It's going to require a strategy, a plan and execution. What makes this an especially difficult time is we have to do both of these things simultaneously. So you need a plan to do it and then you have to execute the plan. And where government often falls down, is frankly on the execution," he said.
In laying out the challenges of fighting off the delta-variant surge while reopening the city economy, fighting homelessness, and building a new Penn Station, Cuomo appeared before a very friendly group full of longtime supporters. He took three questions from ABNY members and was lavishly praised by all them specifically about his past accomplishments.
It wasn’t just the return to the haut-pandemic slideshow and the exhortation of "New York strong" confidence. Yes, the Statue of Liberty slide was included, making his presentation echo the pre-accusation days. Yes, the recounting of the bridges built, airports improved and other projects completed by "Andrew the Builder" had a familiar ring. A response to a question was an opportunity for the canonical blessing of his father’s memory.
There was the tactic of using such forums to put pressure on Sen. Chuck Schumer and New York’s congressional delegation to repeal the cap on deductions for state and local taxes, saying it should be done in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill.
There was a state history lesson on the stalled Second Avenue subway which included a photo of three Republicans — Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits and John Lindsay — breaking ground on it 50 years ago. And as news of a deal on the huge federal infrastructure bill broke during his remarks, Cuomo framed extending the subway line as the fulfillment of an abandoned promise to the residents of Harlem, putting a new twist on his constant squeeze of Schumer for more federal dollars.
Finally, Cuomo got to the point where he began praising the skills of NYC’s presumptive next mayor, Eric Adams. He said the Democratic nominee can navigate the treacherous waters of changing the police culture while keeping the streets safe. He threw the usual shade on the current officeholder, his longtime nemesis. And he kept on opining.
Cuomo said there are two traits that should be used "to judge" an elected official: "Do they get it? Do they understand it? And second, do they have the competence to actually get something done, which is easier said than done, because this is a big bureaucracy and everyone has a political opinion and it takes a special personality to lead in the face of opposition." The context was Adams but it sure sounded like a campaign strategy for a possible fourth term in 2022.
Before all the probes and inquiries are completed, before the delta variant is in the rearview mirror, the reelection campaign has begun.
— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli
Adams ally sees left as a hurdle on NYPD
For a quarter-century, Anthony Miranda has led the NYC-based group known as the Latino Officers Association. In political coverage over the years, Miranda was frequently connected with Eric Adams, who at the time led an organization called "100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care."
Both agitated for changes within the NYPD, and through strident lawsuits and media appearances, they operated under the banner of advancing minority police officers and communities.
These days Miranda, a 60-year-old resident of Fresh Meadows who has run in Democratic primaries for Queens borough president and City Council, hails Adams’ strong likelihood of winning the MYC mayoral election as a good thing.
"I think Eric brings the balance everyone needs right now," he told The Point on Tuesday. "He’s someone who’s sensitive enough to understand the social issues and at the same time make a majority of residents feel safe and protected."
But Miranda, formerly an NYPD sergeant and later chief of police at the city Administration for Children’s Services, also issues a warning: "Liberals in the City Council might not allow Mayor Adams to operate at his fullest capacity."
He suggests the scene at City Hall, after newer and leftier council members are sworn, could end up like a president vexed by a Congress from the opposing party. Last year the Council leadership promoted large-scale reductions in the police budget that did not come to pass. "Most of what they [were] speaking about, regarding defunding police, ignores the history of how we came to be here," Miranda said.
That history, as he’d tell it, included the NYPD absorbing the city’s traffic agents, which worked to end their being "assaulted and disrupted" on the street. School safety officers also came under the department to improve security. Transit and housing police, who’d been in largely "minority-run agencies," became regular city police officers to better coordinate operations amid the high crime of the times, Miranda said.
These days, he notes, politicians in many jurisdictions have focused on promoting officers of color to visible top jobs.
Miranda didn’t knock that, but remarked: "Black Lives Matter is about accountability, not employment."
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
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Kathleen Rice’s time in the danger zone
Some of the best-watched eyewitness testimony on Tuesday about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol came straight from one of seven lawmakers on the investigating committee, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.). And one of Nassau County’s representatives, Kathleen Rice, who was by her side that day, plays a key role in the account.
Murphy told four of the police officers who were on the scene that day, as they appeared before the select committee, how she and Rice had taken refuge in an office. She heard the disturbing sounds of chaos as police tried to defend the building from mobs responding to losing presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fake claims of a fix.
"We thought for sure being in the basement in the heart of the Capitol was the safest place we could be," Murphy said of herself and Rice. "And it turned out that we ended up at the center of the storm."
During the hearing Murphy said to Officer Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department: "In that video where you were sacrificing your body to hold that door, it gave Congresswoman Rice and I and the Capitol Police officers who had been sent to extract us the freedom of movement in that hallway to escape down the other end of that hallway.
"And I shudder to think what would have happened had you not held that line."
Murphy said she and Rice had stayed in place "about 40 paces" from the front line.
For her part, Rice (D-Garden City) tweeted Tuesday: "For as long as I live, I will be grateful to the officers who kept us safe on Jan. 6. I thank my colleagues on the Select Committee working to uncover the truth of what happened on that dark day."
— Dan Janison @Danjanison