Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

How an Albany resistance to Freedom of Information Law candor helps explain the difference between "TV Cuomo" and "newspaper Cuomo"

So, how do things really work in Albany? Cuomo's new ethics chair ran governor's 'defense' program, wrote the Times-Union's Chris Bragg 2/21/21, offers a revealing anecdote:
In 2015, longtime Cuomo aide Linda A. Lacewell set up a little-noticed program spanning the executive branch. Lacewell, at that point in the post of "chief risk officer" for the Executive Chamber, embedded highly paid senior attorneys in two dozen state agencies.

...A function of “special counsels” embedded at state agencies, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, has been helping flag and manage potentially troublesome Freedom of Information Law requests filed with those agencies by the media and others — exactly the sort of requests that are at the center of the administration's controversial handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo's administration often drags out, by months and even years, the release of public records.
Hmm, so that's why it's been so hard to get information via FOIL, such as when I asked about a key gubernatorial aide.

Writes Bragg:
One accomplishment touted by Lacewell’s initiative is New York’s “Open FOIL” program, which allows the public to easily submit open records requests at more than 50 agencies. Azzopardi called it an "award-winning, first-in-the-nation online platform which improves transparency, efficiency and ease of use for FOIL requestors.”

But streamlining and centralizing the process also allows the governor’s office to more immediately flag potentially problematic requests filed at state agencies, which then often face the lengthy delays.
That's next-level stuff. 

Losing the plot

Bragg's article influenced Alex Pareene's 2/24/21 New Republic essay The Andrew Cuomo Show Has Lost the Plot, which points to the growing recognition of  "Cuomo’s long (but perhaps not widely known) history of governance-by-bullying," and why that's not excused by his getting re-elected:
We all know Andrew Cuomo the television character. (He recently won an Emmy.) He reassures New Yorkers (and Americans everywhere) that competent and empathetic people are still in charge....
Andrew Cuomo the newspaper character, meanwhile, has a backstory as elaborate as that of any mainstream comic superhero, with as many side characters, allies, and antagonists weaving in and out of the narrative. 
Stories like Bragg's are complicated and unfit for TV, but... now we're learning, thanks to Attorney General Letitia James's report on the state's undercounting of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, and Assembly Member Ron Kim's building on that, adding the governor's threats.

Observes Pareene: "Cuomo, I think, understands how many of his supporters only know TV Cuomo, and he works diligently to hide newspaper Cuomo from them."

Comments