I think I’ll invent a new board game and call it, “What Could Andrew Be Thinking?” He sure does get me to scratching my head every once in a while. I raved about his gun control effort, the SAFE Act. It was his best work yet. I suspect that after the tragic Sandy Hook shootings, he wanted to be the first one to lead the nation in gun control and he pulled out all the stops to get the SAFE Act passed. Since the governor’s political reputation holds that he “gets things done,” this single thing — a great mark in his “positive” column — commands considerable respect from so many of us. But his ethics stuff is dead on the bar room floor. His promise to end the disgraceful gerrymander is long forgotten, likewise his pledge to elect more Democrats to the state Senate and his education efforts. So we were all a little confused when the governor recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Senate Republicans to seriously weaken his own gun bill. While the governor maintains that this is less than earth shattering, many of us know better. He chickened out, pure and simple.
So why did he do it? Since when does a Democratic governor sign a memorandum of agreement with one party in one house? This is especially true when we are talking about legislation that has been passed by two houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor. Well, as I have been telling you for some time now, like his father before him, the governor wants the Republicans in power so they can be the bogeymen and act as foils against the progressive Democrats who he sees as spenders. I think most people finally agree with me that this is the case. He says he’s a Democrat but as the old saying goes, “Maybe not so much.” He allowed the Senate Republicans to save themselves by letting them draw districts that gave them a huge advantage and that came after Cuomo’s campaign promises that he would insist the districts be drawn by outside, non-partisan experts.
Some things cost big when they catch on political fire. Cuomo never expected that fracking was going to bite him in the rear but the unexpected happened — the anti-fracking movement took off and Cuomo had to back all the way down the road.
For the Republicans, the hot issue is gun control. A lot of New Yorkers follow the national trend and own guns. In order to get his gun package passed, Cuomo herded the legislators into their two chambers and gave them a “Message of Necessity” so they didn’t have time to back out of the deal. The consequences were serious for the few unfortunate Republicans who had their arms twisted in order to pass the legislation. Several have already lost their seats and more are in serious danger of losing theirs. One of these is the new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Andrew wants to keep Flanagan where he is. I suspect he had to do something to protect his Republican partner so he entered into a deal with Flanagan. It means nothing but it gives Long Island’s Flanagan a piece of paper which he can show around to his gun-toting constituents while saying, “Look what I did for you.” As for Andrew, the man who can make things happen, he says that he tried but he just couldn’t get his gun computer registry working properly. What a bunch of baloney. The people who work for Andrew are scared to death of him. If he says, “Make it work,” it’ll work. So to get back to the first sentence of this column, Andrew is thinking, at least short-term, about what he has to do to keep the gun people a bit happier. He never expected to get bit in the you-know-what.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 7/20/15