© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cuomo bickers with Democrats

WBFO News File Photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been getting along with other Democrats in the state this summer. For some time, Cuomo has appeared to have a feud with the Democratic mayor of New York City, but in recent weeks, the governor has directed scathing comments toward state Assembly Democrats.

Cuomo’s ongoing feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been well publicized, on topics ranging from charter schools to homeless policy. De Blasio said at one point that he felt Cuomo had a “vendetta” against him.

Now the governor’s animosity has been increasingly directed toward Democrats who are in the majority in the state Assembly.

Just after the legislative session ended in early summer, Cuomo announced state regulations to step up inspections at day care centers in New York City. A bill to do many of the same things failed when Democrats in the Assembly did not pass it, instead siding with de Blasio, who cited technical concerns over the way the measure was structured.

“I’m not going to allow children to be abused because of political reasons,” Cuomo declared on July 5.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued a testy response, saying, “The governor should be the last one accusing anyone of playing politics.”

After the child care dust-up, the Assembly Democrats held an oversight hearing on the governor’s economic development polices, which are the target of a federal investigation.

Skeptical Democrats grilled Cuomo’s economic czar, Howard Zemsky, for over two hours on the programs’ effectiveness. Zemsky afterward expressed annoyance at repeated questions about the details of the Start-Up NY program, which has spent $45 million on advertising but so far created just 408 jobs.

“We can get into the weeds and minutiae of it and lose the big picture,” Zemsky said. “I’ve answered that question, I’m not going to go through it again.”

Now, Cuomo seems to be blaming the Assembly Democrats for the economic decline of upstate New York.

“The New York State Legislature should look long and hard in the mirror about what they did to upstate New York,” Cuomo said. “Because it didn’t have to be.”

The governor spoke after an announcement in Buffalo on Tuesday marking the expansion of a Geico call center. He said both houses of the legislature sat on their hands, and did nothing for decades, except to raise taxes while New York “hemorrhaged” jobs.

A spokesman for Heastie had no comment on the governor’s latest charges.

At the same Buffalo appearance, Cuomo did not directly point the finger at  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, when asked by reporters whether  Clinton was responsible for the decline of the state’s economy during the time she represented New York as a U.S. senator.

“It is now the political silly season, and people are hammering people all across the board,” Cuomo said. “How significant Hillary Clinton as senator was supposed to be in developing jobs, I don’t know.”

The governor also has questioned the need for a pay raise for legislators, saying they should make a case before a pay raise commission and noting their job performance “has not been great.”

Cuomo also has stepped up tensions with State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also a Democrat. DiNapoli has released audits that found Cuomo’s economic development agency was not always operating efficiently. Cuomo said DiNapoli is “dead wrong” and needs to “educate himself.”

DiNapoli said he stands by his audits.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.