Andrew Cuomo: how soon will he go?

Mario’s son

Andrew CuomoPeople all over the country were having this odd fantasy about New York State’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, in 2020.

They became self-described Cuomosexuals, especially when he was being interviewed by his brother Chris on CNN, inexplicable journalistically but probably good for the ratings.

It was all about the near-daily press conferences, in which he appeared to give competent information about the coronavirus situation. Certainly better than that other guy giving regular updates from DC. Still, I was a bit bemused by it.

Now he is in trouble because his administration reportedly undercounted the number of nursing home deaths. And his initial suggestion that “it doesn’t matter” whether they died from being in the nursing home doesn’t really matter because they’re still dead did not play well. There’s an investigation.

Plus another investigation because he allegedly sexually harassed four – no, wait, six – women. I heard Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, accuse Cuomo of grooming her for sex. She was extremely credible. Worse, he used the information that he knew about a sexual assault she had experienced, which left a really bad taste in my mouth.

A different problem: structural problems on the bridge named for his father, the late Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, were covered up. “For structures like bridges and high-rises, experts say even a few broken bolts can weaken the immense splices and result in a catastrophic collapse.”

The father

I had voted for Mario  Cuomo every chance I got, including in the 1977 NYC mayoral primary against Ed Koch – he lost – and the 1982 gubernatorial primary race against Ed Koch – he won! But when Bill Clinton was considering appointing him to the Supreme Court in 1993, he took himself out of consideration. Then he lost to an obscure state legislator named George Pataki the following year.

(The country did pretty great with Clinton’s ultimate SCOTUS nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)

He was married to Matilda Raffa for 60 years, and it was a great love story. Matilda was and continues to be a force in the family.

The son

Andrew Cuomo was his father’s campaign manager when Mario successfully ran for governor. He joined the governor’s staff as one of his father’s policy advisors, earning $1 a year. He was an assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the first term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency and HUD secretary during the second term. His tenure was a mixed bag.

Andrew was running for governor in 2002. But he derailed his own campaign when he said (in reference to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks): “Pataki stood behind the leader. He held the leader’s coat. He was a great assistant to the leader. But he was not a leader. Cream rises to the top, and Rudy Giuliani rose to the top.” This was back in the day when Rudy had not gone bat guano crazy.

In 2006, Andrew ran for NYS attorney general. While I voted for Mark Green (no relation) in the primary, I selected him in the general election. He ran against former Westchester district attorney Jeanine Pirro. Yeah, the one now hosting Fox’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, who even then was guano crazy.

Moving up

David Patterson had become governor in March 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned in the midst of a prostitution scandal. Andrew Cuomo had hoped to get appointed to the Senate seat vacated when Hillary Clinton became US Secretary of State in 2009, but that position went to a then-obscure upstate member of Congress, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Patterson had his own problems involving witness tampering and accepting free New York Yankees tickets and declined to run for election. Andrew Cuomo was the Democratic nominee, running against the vilely racist Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino, a Buffalo-based businessman. Cuomo won the election for governor by a landslide, which was the last time I voted for him.

Among other issues, I was less than thrilled with his wasteful program called START-UP NY which was supposed to create jobs but only hemorrhaged money. I also disliked his policy towards teacher testing. In 2014 and 2018, I voted for his Democratic primary opponents (Zephyr Teachout, Cynthia Nixon) and picked Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in the general elections, knowing that Cuomo was running against weak Republicans.

Cuomomania

So I was amused when Andrew Cuomo became a hero of the pandemic. He wrote a book about his great leadership during the crisis. CBS Sunday Morning did a puff piece about him with his three daughters. They are twins Cara Ethel Kennedy-Cuomo and Mariah Matilda Kennedy-Cuomo (born 1995), and Michaela Andrea Kennedy-Cuomo (born 1997). Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and Andrew were married in 1990, separated in 2003, and divorced in 2005.

“Cuomo began dating Food Network host Sandra Lee in 2005, and the couple moved in together in 2011. The two resided in Westchester County, NY. On September 25, 2019, the couple announced that they had ended their relationship. As of the fall of 2019, Cuomo is living in the New York State Executive Mansion in Albany on a full-time basis.”

So maybe he is “lonely,” as Charlotte Bennett reported that he indicated. But it doesn’t give him license to hit on his own staff, or other women. Ironically, his office had mandated sexual harassment training back in 2018, though he is accused of skipping it.

The NYS Republicans are looking to have Andrew Cuomo impeached. The Albany Times Union called for him to resign, as have some Democrats. I don’t know where this all going to end up. But you can bet that on January 2, 2023, he will no longer be governor.

With another governor in trouble, New York is becoming another Illinois.

Looking for the reset button

resetHad a really good time during the Christmas/ New Year period, which I will write about soon. Temporarily forgot about the backlog at work- more on that down the road.

Already sad about the death of Mario Cuomo, which I wrote about, I did get a bit irritable about some of the commentary from the political left that his actions didn’t always match his rhetoric. As this article suggests, Cuomo knew that politics is the art of the possible. Or as Cuomo put it: “We campaign in poetry but we govern in prose.”

Then, when I got back home, I hear of the death of fellow choir Jimmy Rocco, who I knew and liked; wrote about THAT.

I’m sitting in church Sunday listening to the joys and concerns, when someone noted the sudden death of Sonny Hausgaard on January 3. Did I hear that name right? Yes. Sonny was a member of the board of the Friends of the Albany Public Library, over which I preside. His wife was a friend of one of our church members. This is the first time I looked in the newspaper obits and saw TWO people I knew personally.

Also, I was musing over the death of Edward Brooke on January 3, “the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote and the first Republican senator to call for the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal,” who died Saturday at the age of 95. “Upon his arrival in Washington, Brooke automatically achieved a number of social firsts, according to his memoirs, integrating both the Senate swimming pool and the Senate barbershop.”

More significant, for black people across the United States, he became “their” unofficial senator when he took office in January 1967. When their own representatives were unresponsive, often because of the vestiges of racism, they well might contact the junior senator from Massachusetts.

I was also saddened, far more than I expected, by the passing of Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor who brought a “hip hop attitude” – ESPN’s words, not mine – to sport commentary. He was only 49 when he died on January 4. Watching a bunch of grown black men, usually, former athletes such as Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson, holding back tears, saying that Stuart let them know they had a role model so that they could be themselves, was surprisingly affecting. I had not realized that this was Scott’s THIRD bout with cancer, going back to 2007.

Instead of dealing with stuff I should have been addressing – paying bills, ABC Wednesday stuff, Black History Month organizing at church, Olin reunion, library lobby day, etc. – I was e-mailing the Friends to make sure they knew of Sonny’s death, planning to take off Wednesday morning (today) for Jimmy’s funeral, and in general, feeling more than a little discombobulated.

I may just throw the first week of 2015 on the 2014 bonfire and start anew. Perhaps I need to look at those good news sites Arthur was talking about, but suddenly I haven’t got the time. Hmm, feel like I’m crankier lately in this blog; this Alberta clipper cold snap (blame Canada!) we’re currently experiencing does NOT help.
***
Bess Myerson died back on December 14, though it wasn’t revealed until recently. I knew her best as a panelist on the game show I’ve Got A Secret, but she came into prominence as the first Miss America who was Jewish. She wouldn’t change her name to something less “ethnic”; I always admired that. She had later difficulties in NYC government and in her personal life, unfortunately.

Mario Cuomo; Ed Hermann

mario.cuomoI voted for Mario M. Cuomo, the son of Italian immigrants who became three-term governor of New York, more often than any political candidate. As the New York Times article announcing his New Year’s Day death at the age of 82 noted: “He commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence [and] a forceful defense of liberalism.”

He was the Democratic party’s official nominee for lieutenant governor in 1974 but lost in a primary to Mary Anne Krupsak. I happened to have been living in New York City when he ran for mayor in 1977, and he lost again, this time to Ed Koch, who I did not much like.

Cuomo was elected lieutenant governor in 1978, and when Hugh Carey chose not to run for governor in 1982, Cuomo found himself in another primary with Ed Koch.

The mayor seemed to be destined to win until he said disparaging things about upstate New York. Cuomo won the gubernatorial primary and the general election.

Mario Cuomo became a national figure when he made the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. “They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children, and they — they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation’s government did that for them.” Links to his 1984 and 1992 convention speeches can be found HERE.

I most appreciated his unpopular position against the death penalty, “which he blocked as governor in New York for 12 years, as a ‘stain on our conscience… The death penalty is wrong because it lowers us all,’ he wrote in The Daily News. ‘It is a surrender to the worst that is in us. (It) has never elevated a society, never brought back a life, never inspired anything but hate.'”

He was reelected governor in 1986 and 1990, then got the nickname “Hamlet on the Hudson” when he considered running for President in 1992. He opted against doing so, which was fine by me; Presidential politics were rough, even then.

I was sad, however, that he decided to decline a possible appointment to the US Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton. His contemplative style would have been great on the bench.

Moreover, a successful run for a fourth term as governor seemed less than promising to me, and sure enough, he was defeated in the general election in November 1994 by obscure state legislator George Pataki. Interesting that Cuomo died 20 years almost to the day that he ended his term as governor.

He was the father of five, including the current governor, Andrew, who was inaugurated earlier on New Years Day; and Chris, a reporter with CNN. He had been married to his wife Matilda (née Raffa) since 1954.
***
Edward Hermann did the patrician man better than almost anyone. He was best known as the well-to-do father and grandfather on Gilmore Girls. He played Franklin Roosevelt several times, and I think I saw them all, including in the 1982 movie Annie. I also saw him in the movies The Paper Chase, The Great Gatsby, Reds, Nixon, and others.

Besides being the voiceover guy for programs on the History Channel, he was on several TV shows I watched, including Beacon Hill, The Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, and especially the haughty priest in flashbacks on St. Elsewhere, and the arrogant surgeon in an episode of MASH.

Ed Hermann died on December 31, 2014, at the age of 71 from brain cancer.
***
I found this list from 2009 of the top 100 rated TV shows in the US. There are lots of final episodes of series, Super Bowl football games, the miniseries Roots, the first broadcast of Gone With the Wind, special episodes (how shot JR on Dallas, Beatles on Ed Sullivan). And sprinkled on the list are thirteen regular-season episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies, which was the #1 show on American TV in 1962-63, and 1963-64. I watched it, but, hey, I was 10 or so. (Only a handful of shows since 2009 have entered the list, mostly Super Bowls.)

Noting the passing of Donna Douglas, who played goddess of the cee-ment pond, Elly May Clampett, on the program, at the age of 81 or 82.

My ambivance about Ed Koch

Ed Koch also didn’t endear himself to upstate voters when he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York State in 1982, again against Mario Cuomo.

 

Edward I. Koch died recently. He was the brash, outspoken mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. You should watch this interview conducted in 2007, where he “reflected on his life and political career, and talked of how he would like to be remembered.” I would agree that he brought some fiscal stability to a city on the brink of bankruptcy, “turning a $1 billion budget deficit into a $500 million surplus in five years. He restored the city’s credit, doubled the annual budget to $26 billion and oversaw $19 billion in capital improvements.”

The year 1977 was tough for both NYCNY and me. The city had a blackout that led to widespread looting. A guy dubbed Son of Sam was going around shooting people. I had graduated from college the year before and was underemployed in my college town in the autumn of 1976. In desperation, I lived with my parents in Charlotte, NC for the first four months of 1977; not my favorite place at the time. Then, after a brief trip to Binghamton, NY, I ended up living in the apartment of my sister and her husband at the time. Much of the time, they were in Boston, though they were present some of the time, and he and I did not get along that well.

I had a 30 hour per week telephone job from 6 pm until midnight. I spent most of my time hanging out in Greenwich Village with a co-worker named Michael, who pursued an ill-fated romance with a young woman. I’ve long since lost track of him, but have remained friends with the woman to this day.

So I wasn’t all that engaged with the politics that was going on. It seemed that there were a half dozen folks running for mayor. Ed Koch had been a reform-minded member of Congress, but his pro-death penalty position troubled me greatly. I ended up rooting for Mario Cuomo, who was the state’s Secretary of State.

Despite living there, I was totally unaware of signs that were apparently all over the city saying “Vote for Cuomo, not the homo.” Mario Cuomo has continually denied being behind these signs, and though Cuomo and Koch appeared together from time to time subsequently, Koch never forgave either Mario, or his son Andrew, the current New York State governor. (I tend to believe Mario, but wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew were involved; he was a very nasty guy.)

He also didn’t endear himself to upstate voters when he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York State in 1982, again against Mario Cuomo. Koch described his run as hubris. He was hurt by an interview with Playboy magazine, where he was insulting to upstaters, describing rural life as “a joke,” for instance.

Amid his accomplishments, and they were many, it was thought by many that he was lousy on race relations with blacks, and extremely slow in responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

After his time as mayor, he worked as a partner in a law firm, did radio commentary, wrote newspaper columns, and even movie reviews. talk-show guest. his support of the war in Iraq peeved me, especially since he had opposed the Vietnam war as a Congressman. More recently, he tried, unsuccessfully, to get nonpartisan reapportionment done, which I support.

The writer Pete Hamill said in 2005 that he was “some mad combination of a Lindy’s waiter, Coney Island barker, Catskills comedian, irritated school principal and eccentric uncle.” This was meant as a compliment, and it’s pretty accurate. The praise he received was no doubt warranted, but somehow, I was not his biggest fan.
***
Artists Against Fracking is a video postcard from Yoko Ono to Andrew Cuomo

From the 1977 Sacred Songs album, NYCNY by Daryl Hall, which rather sounds like NYC, NY of 1977