By Arthur Z. Schwartz
As 2017 draws to a close, a year when most WestView readers have held their breath every time there was a word out of Donald Trump’s mouth, it is time to assess the political scene in 2018, and what it means to us here in the Village and West Village.
Notice, I haven’t bashed Assembly member Deborah Glick in the year and five months since I ceased my run against her due to my heart problems. I still believe that it is time for her to go. In 2018 she will ask for her 14th term in the Assembly, where, since the arrest of her buddy Sheldon Silver (the former Speaker) she has had little influence. Lots of Democratic Assembly Members have told me that Ms. Glick has become mostly a placeholder. Although she chairs the Higher Education Committee, was wholly run over by the Governor with his greatly flawed “free tuition” plan at SUNY.” You don’t hear her voice about ethics reform, opening up the electoral process, the under funding of NYC public schools, or even about Trump. I’m sure she is in the crowd of voices, and during the six months per year she is not staying at her country house we even see her at community events. I am not taking her on again in 2018, but it would be nice if, with all the refreshing new voices on the political scene, someone else did.
That brings me to Andrew Cuomo, our two-term Governor who now wants to be President. He had a rough 2017. The NYC subway and bus system, which HE is in charge of, accelerated its deterioration. He has tried to blame Mayor de Blasio, but its his baby. His chief political aide, Joe Percoco, got indicted for taking payoffs. Sheldon Silver was convicted as was Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos, each for taking bribes and payoffs. two years ago the “3 men in a room” deciding all state legislation was Cuomo, Silver and Skelos, with Percoco standing at the door. Three of the four are gone. This Spring all three will face trial (Percoco) or retrial.
Recently the NY Times has taken him on, analyzing his $25 million campaign account. He has virtually no small donors. Since the beginning of 2015, Mr. Cuomo has raised over 99% of his campaign money from donations larger than $1,000 and nearly 99.9% of his funds from donors who gave at least $200, according to an analysis by The New York Times. At one point last year, Mr. Cuomo went six months without reporting a single individual donor who gave less than $200. Mr. Cuomo’s campaign account has grown by over $23.6 million since the start of 2015 but only roughly $30,000 came from individual donors who gave less than $200. In the post-Bernie Sanders era (average donation of $27), this is astounding. Many of the Governor’s donors have given. $50,000 or more, many through hidden donations funneled through LLCs.
With this kind of backing, is it any wonder that he makes decisions, often, which favor large corporate entities? The State is “committed to 100% renewable” energy, but he and his staff have approved new fossil fuel power plants around the state and are building natural gas pipelines everywhere. We have a housing affordability crisis in NYC, but the Governor does nothing to strengthen the rent laws, or sue state funds to build new housing. The Courts have ruled that schools in NYC are woefully underfunded (by billions of dollars) and he won’t budget the money; meanwhile he grandstands for privately funded charter schools. Hospitals, like Beth Israel, are closing everywhere, and his NYS Department of Health says, “Ok,” without public input or concern.
Back in 2014 he had a poorly funded opponent—Zephyr Teachout—who launched a two-month campaign and got almost 40% of the vote in the Democratic Primary. In our Assembly District she got 65%! There are a number of potential candidates at the starting gate, waiting to begin the race. And that candidate will have the 32-chapter NY Progressive Action Network there as a core filed operation. So, while the rest of the country is thinking about Trump next September, we in New York will be thinking about Andrew Cuomo—Should he stay or should he go?
Demonstrate outside Cuomo’s $50,000 per head Birthday Bash!
When: Thursday, December 14th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Cipriani Wall Street (55 Wall Street)
Arthur Z. Schwartz is Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village.