Last week, Gov. Cuomo and his Budget Director Robert Mujica, together with the governor’s daughter Michaela, traveled to Puerto Rico to look over the recent earthquake damage. Photos of them on a helicopter inspection looked more like a group on a sightseeing trip than a serious effort to be helpful.
Of course, it is totally appropriate for New York State to offer assistance to Puerto Rico which has had a year and a half of repeated devastation. New York, both through private donations and government assistance, has sent billions.
We have also brought into the commonwealth significant manpower in the form of National Guard specialized units as well as other emergency services. The private sector, especially utilities, has done the same.
My issue is with the governor and budget director joining the trip, with a budget announcement due in just a few days. During Cuomo’s first term, he literally never left the state. He defended his stay-at-home policy by stating he had much work to do. It was hard to argue with him.
In recent years, he has seemed far less interested in a New York State government focus. He gets a clear thrill out of personally participating in emergencies and/or weather disasters, regardless of whether they are in New York or abroad. Although it is his right, it causes me to wonder about his continued interest in governing our state. He appears bored.
I make no pretense of being nonpartisan. Regardless, I would think that with a $6.1 billion budget deficit, mass public concern over criminal justice issues and a population fleeing the state in record numbers, a return to the first-term Cuomo who stayed behind to deal with matters would have made a lot of sense.
The Democratic leadership in the State Assembly and many Democratic members of the State Senate are digging in their heels in opposition to any effort to repeal or change last year’s criminal justice reforms which essentially eliminated bail for 90 percent of those arrested and changed discovery rules to give those arrested unprecedented access to the private information of victims.
In fact, last week, Assemblymember Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, brought a group of self-identified Black Panthers to Albany to argue that cashless bail should be expanded. They were not the only ones that demonstrated for expansion. Imagine. There are organized groups arguing that New York did not go far enough.
You do not need to read the newspapers, listen to the radio or watch TV to know that this law went way too far and needs to be repealed. Then, maybe the legislature can start over again and come up with something that might work. To get started, it needs to be repealed now.
President Trump had two wins last week that should help our economy and, as an extension, many Americans. The Senate gave final passage to the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. The successor of the not-so-good NAFTA agreement should create a fairer balance of trade between the U.S. and two of its biggest trading partners, Mexico and Canada.
Additionally, the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China signed the first phase of an immensely important trade agreement that substantially shifted a former Chinese trade advantage to the middle where it should have been in the first place. The agreement still has pieces to be negotiated, but this first phase sets the outline and allows for a greater level of confidence that there is little risk of punitive tariffs.
Although Wall Street is not Main Street, it is a decent indicator of how well our nation is doing financially. The Dow Jones hit an all-time high and other market indicators are doing equally well.