Alan Chartock: Ringmaster Cuomo tries to tame unruly DemocratsMore Info
Oh brother! Oh sister! What a way to make political sausage. In Louisiana, they have New Orleans, “The Big Easy.” In New York, we have “The Big Ugly,” and ugly it is. The denizens of the legislature had to submit an on-time $175.5 billion dollar budget. In order to get the pay raise that, of course, was paramount over any other substantive business, they had to bring in the huge fiscal plan by April 1, otherwise known as April Fools’ Day. Very appropriate, don’t you think?
The background to this year’s nonsense was the ongoing fight between Andrew Cuomo and the newly empowered Senate Democratic majority. To put it very, very mildly, Cuomo had his way with the new majority. He got his permanent tax cap, he got his congestion traffic bill and he just kept on getting. It was like watching a tiger and a rabbit fighting each other. Cuomo got almost everything he wanted and the things that he didn’t get, I think he never really wanted.
A great example of that latter is the legalization of recreational marijuana. A year ago, he told me that he was against legalizing cannabis. You know the drill: It was a gateway drug, yada, yada, yada. A year later, he allowed that he was for it because of fiscal reasons. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey were legalizing cannabis and they would be eating our lunch while our tax coffers would be depleted. Forget about the fact that our neighbors haven’t done what he said they were going to do (except for Massachusetts). Cuomo gave up on the pot. How come? Maybe he never was for it but thought that the voters were (polls tell the story) and so he had a conversion, but when the smoke cleared, he allowed his political compatriots to talk him out of it because they didn’t like the details. That’s nonsense, of course. He could have won the day but chose not to. Now he can have his cake and eat it, too. Brilliant!
Marijuana is only the tip of the iceberg. He gave in to the legislature and put a lot more money in the state education budget. Governors always do that. It should be done, even though New York already spends more than anyone else in the country per student. I have no problem with that, but we should be pushing like crazy for better results. Cuomo once made the mistake of taking on the teachers union (I was a satisfied member) and he got his butt kicked. Now the lovers have made up and all seems forgiven. Cuomo: lesson learned.
The relationship between Cuomo and the state Democrats is fascinating. The governor is holding the leash of a rather rambunctious dog. From Day One, the guy hated the idea that the Senate Dems would be in control, but since it was inevitable, he was ready to teach them a lesson. The Senate Democrats screwed up the Amazon deal and Cuomo will never let them forget it. They just didn’t see it coming. They have been hopelessly outmatched in the game.
Rich Azzopardi, my very smart former student and now Cuomo spokesman, issued an attack on three young, smart, progressive newly elected women in the legislature and, as we used to say in Joan of Arc Junior High School, he “called them a curse.” I am SURE that Andrew Cuomo knew nothing about Rich’s rough words about these young women. Frankly, and I hope he doesn’t read this, Cuomo sometimes sounds a little like you-know-who in the White House. Rich had to know better than to call the women effing idiots. Nope, Cuomo and the legislative leaders remind me a bit of those hockey players who hit each other with sticks but walk off the ice with their arms around each other.
And the game goes on.