The Article That Made Mario Cuomo Governor in 1982 — No Kidding!

Mario Cuomo
When I wrote this story, in June 1982, during the Democratic primary campaign for New York governor, Mario Cuomo was still seven points behind Ed Koch, who had defeated him for mayor only five years earlier with a strong death penalty pitch that Cuomo always courageously resisted. I wrote here about Cuomo's fascinating mind and character as well as about the death penalty politics that shadowed this race.

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Pro-Gun Groups Are So Very Annoyed at Jerome Hauer, Cuomo Official Who Reportedly Used His Gun as a Laser Pointer

Categories: Cuomo, Guns, Lasers

Photo by Metropolitan Transit Authority via Wikimedia Commons
Jerome Hauer, left, meets with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-MTA Chair Joe Lhota during Hurricane Sandy
The Cuomo administration has a serious, potentially deadly laser pointer shortage. That's the only way to explain a report from the Albany Times-Union that Jerome Hauer, the state's commissioner of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, used the the laser sight on his handgun as a pointer during a presentation in October, panicking a bunch of foreign delegates from countries where guns are only used for civilized things like shooting people.

Anonymous state officials told the newspaper they'd witnessed the incident, which they said happened during a presentation to a foreign delegation at the State Police Headquarters. According to the unnamed officials, the paper adds, "three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun's laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point."

Hauer had a stroke a few years ago and "can be unsteady," the Times-Union adds. Also, he isn't legally allowed to carry a firearm at work. It's a violation of the state's Public Facilities Law. What a great, reassuring story, right?

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Three Strikes, You're Out: Albany Flops on Abortion Rights, Campaign Finance, and Medical Marijuana Bills

Remember the provision in the Women's Equality Act that would solidify abortion rights here in New York in the face of anti-abortion bills popping up in state legislatures across the country? Remember Cuomo's call for campaign finance regulation in a state electoral system that is drastically outdated and loophole-heavy? Remember the legislative push for medical marijuana in New York in a state with a record high number of weed arrests? Yeah? Well, none of them are happening anymore.

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Along With Anti-Bribery Measures, Gov. Cuomo Proposes Election Reform

Might as well use this recent scenario to hit two birds with one stone.

Last week, Governor Cuomo announced the Public Trust Act. The bill, which came in the wake of the scandals that rocked New York politics this month, would expand the powers given to state bribers to locate and detain those involved in bribery. It would also make it much easier for a prosecutor to bring a case against this type of corruption. It was Albany's reaction to the Holleran/Smith and Stevenson controversies, both of which gave the public a rough glimpse into the dirty world of money and politics.

Moving beyond that, the governor has used the opportunity for something else. At a press conference yesterday, Cuomo proposed another idea he's been talking about for a while now (with the backing of President Obama's Organizing for America squad, too): reforming the means by which we elect our representatives in New York state.

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Cuomo Introduces "The Public Trust Act" After Last Week's Scandal Fest

Last week, New York government, on both a city and state level, bore witness to corruption in its purest form.

In a matter of days, a mayoral rigging scheme was uncovered that involved the City Council, the State Assembly, and business interests. And then we found out about yet another plan in the Assembly that involved wire-tapping, bribing and, once again, business interests. The Halloran/Smith and Stevenson/Castro debacles revived a question that has driven New York politics for years: is it really that driven by money?

Well, in any sort of political scandal pile-up, the government has to make it seem like it's doing something. That's your cue, Cuomo.

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Obama Team to Support Gov. Cuomo in Campaign Finance Reform Battle

Boss Tweed, Thomas Nast.jpeg
In January, Gov. Cuomo reiterated a point in his State of the State address that he's made since his first day on office: New York needs to completely overhaul its campaign finance system ASAP.

"We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates," he told the audience. Except, in a modern political landscape where voices are heard through dollar signs, his plan has not made it out of the rhetorical stage.

But maybe a boost from a victorious White House team will help a bit.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Wants To Bring The $9 Minimum Wage To New York

Categories: Cuomo, John Surico

Because, in 2013, $7.25 is seriously not cutting it.

One of the most attentive features of President Obama's State of the Union address the other night was his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9. The move comes as a reaction to inflation, the higher costs of seemingly everything and the revelation of "Oh wait, no one can live off of $7.25" (let alone $9 too, actually).

So, as a result, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced yesterday that he has introduced legislation to bring that same level to New York State. If the bill is enacted, the higher minimum wage would begin next January, with inflation indexed in 2015.

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When Are We Going To Make A Decision On Fracking?

Okay. So, last year, Governor Cuomo and his Albany crew had no idea what the hell to do about this whole hydrofracking controversy. To frack or not to frack? That was the question holding up state legislators (but, apparently, not Mayor Bloomberg).

Cracking under pressure, Mr. Cuomo pushed back the decision to this month. Environmental activists have been hounding the Governor in recent weeks for stalling the procedure. Except it looks like they're going to have make it through winter.

The other day, the Governor's Office announced that it would, once again, have to really think about this one. According to the New York Times, the State's Health Department reports aren't in yet and they could take a while. Plus, once they're completed, there's a 45 day period where the public is invited to comment on the legislative proposal. Then, after that, who knows honestly.

So when are we going to make a decision on fracking in New York State?

Most likely never.


Here's What Governor Cuomo Could Spend $1.5 Billion On

No one's arguing that you can do a lot with $1.5 billion here.

In the state budget proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo a week ago, there was a tiny loophole that slipped underneath the radar: the politician has more or less granted himself leeway to spend upwards of $3 billion for, from what it seems, anything he wants.

However, a little more than a third of that amount has been earmarked for economic development projects; $720 million of which is being thrown at 'transformative' economic plans. An additional $400 million or so will be spent on regional projects, higher education and competitive bidding for local school districts.

With that being said, Mr. Cuomo is left with, give or take, $1.5 billion to do whatever the hell he wants with. The Legislature is poised to pass the budget and this treasure chest is becoming closer to a reality.

We're no mathematicians but, as New Yorkers, we know how to stretch out dollars for a long time, let alone one and half billion of them. So, Governor, we have a couple of ideas to mull over.

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Gov. Cuomo To NYC: If No Teacher Evaluations Deal Is Made, the State Will Intervene

After letting $300 million in state funds slip out of our children's hands, coercion might be the only way to get Mayor Bloomberg's D.O.E. and the United Federation of Teachers to come to an agreement.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo told reporters that Albany has no problem imposing its own teacher evaluations system on New York City if the two parties miss the September 1st deadline. Repeat: the September 1st deadline -- another eight months have been given to school districts to solve this mess.

This extension still doesn't stop the Mayor's budget from cutting 700 teachers this year; however, this state intervention parallels the impending doom for 1,800 teachers come September. And, if that's what it comes down to, the City will no longer lose state funds because of the negotiation nonsense, which will hopefully stifle further cuts into staff.

But what's ironic about the governor's gesture is the origin of the policy controversy: the 2010 state law that outsourced the responsibility to local school districts of coming to a deal. It knowingly cornered the already-tenuous relationship of the Bloomberg administration and its teachers; now that's failed, Mr. Cuomo is flexing its enforcement to solve a mistake Albany made.

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