Cuomo can’t lose his ‘War on Albany’
Well, you’ve got to hand it to Andrew Cuomo. He has declared war on Albany and, for the most part, he is on the side of the gods. Will he stay there or is he gaming the public? If he does what he says he will, he might live to see his face chiseled into the side of the Legislative Office Building.
The big question is how he will deal with the constitutionally mandated legislative and congressional redistricting. He has said all along that when the Legislature is done with its disgusting, morally reprehensible, self-serving redistricting, he will veto the bill. Some cynics think that at the last minute he’ll announce some kind of breakthrough, like a proposed constitutional amendment that would take effect ten years from now when he won’t be around to worry about it. I think Cuomo is sharp enough to know that such a “compromise” would ensure that his Republican friends in the state Senate will retain control of that house. Seasoned legislative reporters appear to think he will try to reach a middle ground that the Legislature can live with. My bet is that Cuomo will do what he says and veto the bill. That will send the whole thing to a judge who will appoint a “master” to do the redistricting. Then, of course, the next question will be, “Who gets appointed as the line drawing master?” Just remember that many judges were once politicians. There will be lots of ways to skin this cat.
Another Andrew initiative is his recent insistence that if teacher evaluations aren’t brought about by negotiation with the teachers unions, he will impose them by executive order. Andrew knows that the public wants to see its teachers held accountable. His argument is buttressed by the apparent willingness of the unions to agree to negotiate which leaves us somewhat puzzled about his current pronouncement. Perhaps he loves the issue so much that he’d rather have the war than negotiated resolution. The invisible elephant on the table is the New York State Board of Regents. According to the state constitution, they are the ones who are responsible for making educational policy. While the Regents have behaved responsibly, they are selected by the New York State Assembly and their political allegiance is thought to be with those who brought them to the dance. So far, the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, doesn’t seem to want to cut the Regents off at the legs but he is very cagey.
Then there is Cuomo on the unions. Cuomo knows that people don’t much care for civil servants. Now he puts up another anti-civil servant proposal which would create a sixth tier for state workers. Their pensions would be less generous and if they would like, they could opt for a 401(K) type deal that so many other American workers have to take. Into all of this comes Thomas DiNapoli, a terrific and courageous state Comptroller who announces that the proposed “Tier Six” program will actually cost the state millions of dollars. Unlike Cuomo, DiNapoli takes very little campaign money from anyone because he doesn’t want to appear compromised in his job. My bet is that the unions won’t forget that DiNapoli helped them when they were really down.
So knowing how unpopular the Legislature is, Governor Cuomo has declared “War on Albany.” Forget about the fact that he is now the most powerful man in the state capital; it is a brilliant political strategy. He has actually put up pictures of himself in an Uncle Sam outfit saying “I want you.” People love this kind of thing and he really can’t lose. The more of this kind of stuff he does, the more the people will love him and even if he loses, he wins, if you follow me. Inevitably, he will win. You really can’t argue with a guy whose personal and political polling numbers are through the roof.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 2/6/12