Fight night!

It’s fight night in Albany. First up, there is the main contest, Cuomo v. de Blasio. This histrionic duel which will certainly leave both men incapacitated comes from the department of “Oh, when will they ever learn?” De Blasio has the main disadvantage because he is a puny mayor in a strong governor state. Since, in political science parlance, “The city is a creature of the state,” de Blasio can’t turn around without asking Albany’s permission.

There are days when it looks like Cuomo looks for opportunities to taunt de Blasio. It’s almost as if de Blasio asks for “black” and Cuomo says “white.” This applies to things like de Blasio’ s housing initiatives, control of the schools Including his fight with Cuomo over charter schools which he clearly is not a fan of and Cuomo loves, and much, much more. As for Cuomo, every time he beats up the hapless de Blasio, he looks more and more like a bully. As the governor’s numbers continue on their downward death spiral, his tactics aren’t well received by many people who have unpleasant bullying experiences in their lives. For his part de Blasio is looking pretty ineffective as he tries to fight the perception that he can keep New York’s crime problem under control. In the historic fight between former Governor Nelson Rockefeller and then Mayor John V. Lindsey, both men all but destroyed each other as they fought their way to the presidency which neither achieved. It certainly doesn’t look like there will be any let up in this contest.

Then there is the interesting fight between the new speaker of the Assembly, Democrat Carl Heastie, and the new majority leader of the Republican Senate, John Flanagan. To understand this one you have to get the role of the referee and he is none other than Andrew Cuomo who is a Democrat, and who should be on the side of the Democratic speaker, but who really seems to treasure his ally John Flanagan. The Cuomos, both papa and son, have always loved having the Republicans control the state Senate. That way the Republicans can put the brakes on the spenders known as the Democrats. It means that Cuomo doesn’t have to take responsibility for blocking so called “progressive (expensive) legislation.” In fact, when Cuomo was attorney general he spent a lot of time putting some of these Democratic characters in jail. One of the worst and most problematic features of the morally corrupt New York state government is the well known gathering of “three men in a room.” In this case, that means Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie. It has been reported that Cuomo has been siding with the Republican, Flannigan, and against Heastie. I am not surprised. Heastie, of course, has to report back to his Democratic conference, but the way Albany works, he pretty well sets the agenda for the Democratic Assembly, and while Cuomo and Flanagan may beat him up in that three-man room, he could hold out longer before the deals are made.

No one really knows what the incentives for Heastie to go along are. We recently learned that he was double charging for the state to fix his car, both through the so-called mileage system and from his campaign money. Who knows if any of that came up as Cuomo was twisting his arm. Apparently that’s not against the laws since the Legislature makes the laws and typically they don’t make laws that will make things either difficult or downright illegal for them. Of course, we like to think that Republicans and Democrats are too different breeds of cat and that’s true, much of the time. But what really motivates people like Cuomo and his friends are political advancement. So that while they may talk about programs and changes in the law, it is almost always a matter of what’s good for their electoral prospects. That’s disgusting.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 7/6/15
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