Gov. Kathy Hochul continues to make good on her promises to be, in effect, the “un-Cuomo.” Too bad that also includes appeasing New York’s lefties even more than the last governor did.
Again, some of this is a huge improvement: Meeting last week with families who lost loved ones to COVID in the wake of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deadly nursing-home order, Hochul apologized for the pain caused by Cuomo’s handling of the crisis. The next day, she pointedly declared that New Yorkers deserve to know their government “listens and actually cares and gives a damn about them.”
The meeting included high-profile Cuomo critics Janice Dean and Assemblyman Ron Kim, who praised Hochul for her show of empathy: “It was obviously a private apology, but I think it really touched the families. That’s something they’ve been asking for — to be treated decently as human beings.” Dean tweeted, “It was a small step but an important one to get answers.”
The new gov is also getting rid of the “political officers” Cuomo stashed at two dozen state agencies. These legal counsels served mainly to cover up info that might embarrass him, including stonewalling valid requests under the Freedom of Information Law, such as the Empire Center FOIL filings that eventually helped get out the truth about the nursing-home death toll.
And Hochul has about finished her purge of Cuomo enablers across state government. The chief architect of the infamous March 2020 order forcing the care homes to admit COVID-contagious patients, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, will be replaced by former NYC health commish Mary Bassett within weeks. Nearly all the staffers named as enablers in Attorney General Tish James’ nursing-home and sex-harassment reports are gone or will be soon. At least nine agency heads and other top Cuomo appointees had resigned by the end of September.
The biggest Cuomo enabler to keep his job is SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, long a confidant of the ex-gov — who persuaded the SUNY board to tap his crony without even conducting a national search. Last year he helped edit a state report on nursing-home deaths to conceal the true death toll, but the same Cuomo appointees to the board who picked him in the first place are standing by him.
Then again, Malatras was the most left-wing member of Cuomo’s posse, so perhaps his survival is just another aspect of Hochul’s hard left turn.
She not only picked a “Defund the police” stalwart, state Sen. Brian Benjamin, as her lieutenant gov, she’s been signing “reform” bills that are springing parole-violators from jail and making it impossible to arrest anyone for shooting up in public. She rushed to extend the state eviction moratorium and to speed up bonus-unemployment payments to illegal immigrants.
The gov is plainly worried about challenges in next year’s primary from the likes of AG James and city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. But she’s left so much space to her right that she’s left room for Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-LI) to jump into the race.
Suozzi has jumped to endorse Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who’s running a write-in campaign after a surprise primary loss to far-left India Walton, the new toast of the Democratic Socialist crew. “Defeat the socialists,” Suozzi said. “If we let them win, we will lose everything. We will lose the American people, we will lose New Yorkers, will lose Buffalonians, if we adopt that type of extremist agenda.”
Buffalo is Hochul’s own home turf; Suozzi’s intervention there is (at the least) clear warning to the gov that if she keeps rushing to appease New York’s extremists, she may run herself out of office.
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