Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

I just watched the gubernatorial debate in New York. It included four candidates and is the only debate that will be held as Cuomo did not want to give his opponents any free air time. So there was Governor Cuomo, running on three lines (democrat, Working Families Party, Women’s Equality Party); His Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, running on three lines (Republican, Conservative, and Stop Common Core); Howie Hawkins, Green Party; and Michael McDermott, a Libertarian Party.

There were two education questions.

One was, what’s your position on Common Core? All four candidates opposed it. The Libertarian said his nine-year-old daughter can’t understand her homework, and neither can he. He said something along the lines of, “8+6=14, but why ask her to add 8+2+7-4-3?”

Cuomo insisted he had nothing to do with adopting Common Core and blamed it on the Board of Regents. He said he doesn’t appoint them, the Legislature does.

Then came a question on charter schools. Howie Hawkins opposed any expansion of them and said we must fully fund our public schools. Astorino said he was a product of public schools, his children attend public schools, and his wife teaches special education. He didn’t say where he stands on charters. McDermott denounced charters and said they undermine local control, which he strongly favors. Cuomo said nothing about charter schools and talked about taxes and other subjects. He changed the subject instead of acknowledging his fervent support for charter schools. Cuomo did not take credit for passing legislation that requires New York City to give free public space to charters or to pay their rent in private space.

The takeaway? None of the candidates supports Common Core (not even Cuomo, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the standards until recently and has insisted on making test scores the basis of educators’ evaluations), and charters (which enroll 3% of the state’s students, received no endorsement, even from their biggest cheerleader, Governor Cuomo.

With his campaign chest of $45 million, Cuomo has a big lead over his challengers. But the Governor would not publicly endorse Common Core or charters. He left a sour taste, as there can be no doubt that his current rhetoric is campaign mode and that he will revert to supporting Common Core, high-stakes testing, teacher-bashing, and charters after he is re-elected.k

A little more than four months ago, New York’s Working Families Party threatened to nominate its own candidate against Governor Andrew Cuomo, because Cuomo had grown so close to his Wall Street campaign contributors and was often called “Governor 1%” for his intense desire to defend the interests of the plutocrats. The WFP was prepared to nominate an unknown law professor named Zephyr Teachout, who was an expert on government ethics.

Cuomo promised to work with the WFP to elect a Democratic majority in the State Senate so that the Legislature could pass progressive legislation, which died in the State Senate, abetted by a small caucus of Democrats who aligned with the Republicans to give them control.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, the state’s leading progressive official, worked hard to persuade the WFP to support Cuomo (even though Cuomo had just humiliated de Blasio by backing charter schools over public schools and gutting the Mayor’s power to regulate charters). De Blasio even nominated Cuomo at the state Democratic convention, burnishing his otherwise nonexistent progressive credentials.

Of course, the WFP gave its nomination to Cuomo, Teachout challenged him in the Democratic primary, and with almost no money, managed to win 1/3 of the vote and half the counties in the state.

Now, lo and behold, de Blasio is working hard to elect the Democrats who would shift the balance in the State Senate, but Cuomo has turned invisible.

The New York Times wrote:

“It has been more than four months since the fragile marriage between the governor and the Working Families Party was consummated: The group endorsed Mr. Cuomo, over many of its members’ objections, after he agreed to pursue a long list of liberal goals, as part of a deal that Mr. de Blasio helped broker.

“The top priority was an effort to tilt the balance of power in the State Senate, where Republicans currently share leadership with a group of breakaway Democrats.

“Less than a month before Election Day, with polls showing some key Senate races leaning in Republicans’ favor, the arrangement with the governor appears increasingly fraught. Despite his pledge to push for Democratic control of the Senate, Mr. Cuomo has at times seemed not to have a strong opinion about the outcome of the November elections.

“You can’t say, ‘Well, I can work well if they elect this party,’ ” he told reporters last month. “They elect a legislature: Democratic, Republican, whatever they elect. I think the job of the governor is to figure out how to make it work.”

Translation: Cuomo hoodwinked the WFP, de Blasio, and the unions.

John Cassidy of The New Yorker wrote a fascinating article on the national implications of Zephyr Teachout’s strong performance against Andrew Cuomo. With little money, little name recognition, and no television ads, she managed to capture a third of the Democratic primary vote. Cassidy says:

“The strong showing by Teachout and Wu was a victory for progressive voters who warmed to their message about tackling rising inequality, political corruption, and corporate abuses. It was also a rejection of Cuomo’s economic philosophy, which led him to introduce a series of tax cuts for the rich, at the same time that he cut the state budgets for education and social services. I’d be willing to wager that most Democrats who voted against Cuomo objected more to his policies than to his personality.

“Teachout and Wu’s insurgent campaigns gave voice to this sentiment. Eschewing the etiquette of internal party discourse, Teachout accused Cuomo of governing as a Republican, acting as a shill for the big banks and other campaign contributors, and being part of a “corrupt old boys’ club” in Albany. Making full use of social media and appearances in more traditional media, she demonstrated that, even in this day and age, a candidate with a real message doesn’t necessarily need the support of the party apparatus, or the financial backing of big donors, to have an impact.”

Interestingly, the Teachout-Wu ticket swept many upstate counties. But their candidacy had a larger meaning beyond New York politics, writes Cassidy:

“Teachout and Wu both achieved more than seemed possible a couple of months ago. By thoroughly embarrassing Cuomo, New York Democrats didn’t merely deliver a blow to whatever national aspirations he may have. They signalled to other Democrats, Hillary Clinton included, that the political center of gravity has shifted, and that a significant segment of Democratic voters won’t suffer gladly a return to the timid, pro-corporate policies of the Clinton years, which Cuomo represents.

“That’s why what happened on Tuesday wasn’t just a New York story: it has national implications. The progressive movement that emerged from the financial crisis, giving birth to Occupy Wall Street and the de Blasio campaign, may still be inchoate and splintered. But it can’t be ignored.”

Bob Hardt, NY 1’s editorial director, wrote that Cuomo should grow up and act like a Governor, not a bully.

He was especially appalled by Cuomo’s behavior at the Labor Day parade, where he refused to shake Teachout’s hand and no matter how hard she tried to reach across to do so, Cuomo was surrounded by other officials and bodyguards determined to prevent a face-to-face encounter, or Heaven forbid, a handshake.

What the event showed is that Teachout has courage and dignity–she kept smiling no matter how many times she was pushed away–and Cuomo showed he is afraid of her. No class.

Hardt wrote:

Life really is like high school – it’s just that the stakes keep getting bigger.

After unsuccessfully going to court to try to stop tomorrow’s Democratic primary from happening, Governor Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, pulled off their best King and Queen of the Prom behavior this weekend, pretending that their opponents, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, didn’t exist. Hochul got downright weird at the Labor Day parade in Manhattan on Saturday, when she literally turned her back on Teachout when she tried to shake her hand.

It was a symbolic moment that perfectly captured Cuomo’s response to dissatisfaction in the liberal wing of his party by just pretending that it isn’t there. After the primary, the governor plans on wooing (or is it Wu-ing?) those voters back when he faces the Republican-Conservative bugaboo of Rob Astorino in November.

But it’s not really smart or courageous by the governor to ignore members of his party who think he gave public employees the short end of the stick or want him to ban hydrofracking. Teachout and Wu aren’t the standard tinfoil-helmet-wearing minor candidates as much as Cuomo and Hochul want them to be. They’ve received numerous endorsements and are getting traction across the state. Why not explain why you think their ideas are out of step with the state rather than hide from them?

After The New York Times’ devastating article on the governor’s behavior surrounding his anti-corruption commission in which Cuomo’s team appeared thuggish, maybe it’s smart not for top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco not to look like he’s going to tackle Teachout at this weekend’s parade.

Bullying your way through the primary china shop will get you a messy win – but it’s not the most artful way to go through politics. There’s nothing wrong with explaining yourself to voters in forums like debates or at least mentioning your opponent by name.

With Primary Day approaching tomorrow, it’s time for both Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul to stay after school.

Janos Martin, former counsel to the Moreland Commission, which was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate political corruption, then disbanded by Cuomo, has endorsed Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, who are challenging Cuomo in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

In his statement, he recounted the travails of the Moreland Commission. And he said,

“When I joined the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption (“the Moreland Commission”) as special counsel during the summer of 2013, I knew Albany’s history of corruption, and relished the opportunity to investigate it and offer ideas for reform. Like many of those who participated in or followed our work, I found hotbeds of scandal, apathy and mediocrity beyond even my low expectations. The person who disappointed me most during my time on the Commission was Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“The opportunity that has been lost by the Commission’s neutering, then disbandment, is more significant than most people realize, and the level of the governor’s interference more pervasive than press accounts suggest. And while ethics may seem like a single issue in a large and complicated state, what I observed showed me what little regard Governor Cuomo and his senior staff have for the press, the public, and people with integrity who work in government. Their disdain for ethics colors the way they govern the entire state….

“For example, to most lay people, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a candidate through various loopholes and accounts in exchange for favorable legislation or lack of regulation, as Governor Cuomo did, is tantamount to bribery. This is how the real estate, telecommunications and gaming industries have operated for years. Legislative leaders rake in huge legal fees for unspecified work. Large corporations bankroll dozens of bi-partisan lobbying firms. Anonymous political spending by both parties continues to grow. As the Daily Newsreported, Cuomo donors have been awarded lucrative state contracts. (…) Of course, as long as no campaign finance or lobbying laws are broken, all of this is legal,and Governor Cuomo has left the worst and weakest of these laws in place year after year.

“Further feeding Albany’s corruption is that most who operate in this system don’t find it problematic or care. Few legislators defended our work, and few beat reporters investigated its substance until the Commission was long disbanded. Even good government groups withheld their fire during the budget process under the illusion that a strong reform bill was forthcoming. Sometimes it seems like the entire political class lives in perpetual fear of an Andrew Cuomo reprisal.

“Even Bill de Blasio, who spent the first half of 2014 in Cuomo’s doghouse, is now trotted out to sing the praises of right-winger Kathy Hochul on the governor’s behalf. Governor Cuomo’s general approach to governance is that fundraising nearly exclusively from mega donors, strong-arming independent entities and bullying Democrats to get in line with his moderate-conservatism is a necessary part of “œpolitics as usual,” and his strongest defense is that the other power brokers of Albany feel the same way. Weak-kneed politicians can perhaps live under this system, but primary voters ought to reject it.

“Governor Cuomo’s behavior during the Commission is emblematic of this cynical approach to governance. During the life and aftermath of the Commission, Governor Cuomo repeatedly made comments and pressured Commissioners to make comments that Commission staff knew to be blatantly untrue. The Commission staff did not realize that Governor Cuomo viewed them as chips in a misplayed poker hand, a gambit to be discarded via press conference. Only after being browbeaten for months did we acknowledge the farce of investigating any target that could even tangentially set off Cuomo or his senior staff. I learned of the Commission’s shutdown over Twitter, two days before the budget was due. By then the Commission was a shell of itself anyway.

“Without someone challenging this Albany mindset, it is no wonder most New Yorkers are completely cynical and disengaged from their state government. Indeed, if Zephyr Teachout’s campaign has achieved nothing else, it has shown that someone with political courage can stand up to any elected official, criticize him and offer a better vision, without suffering retaliation. That is what democracy is…..”

Internationally respected economist Jeffrey Sachs issued a statement endorsing Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York. It appeared on Huffington Post. The Democratic primary is this Tuesday.

Andrew Cuomo has raised $35 million. Teachout has raised $200,000. The New York Times declined to endorse Cuomo because of his failed promises to root out corruption in Albany. The Times endorsed Wu; his opponent is a Democrat in name only, who is opposed to gun control and who endorses other Republican positions. The Times lavishly praised Teachout but did not endorse because she opposes the Common Core, a very flimsy reason.

Here is part of Sachs’ endorsement of Teachout and Wu:

“It is hard to exaggerate the shamelessness that passes for political behavior these days. Politicians sell out our democracy to the highest bidder, and trade away our public schools, clean air and water, and economic futures. Around the world I’ve seen repeatedly how greed and corruption put societies on the path of self-destruction. Unless we use our democratic vote to bring honesty and excellence back to politics, America’s decline will become irreversible.

“That’s why I’m here today, to endorse New York Governor and Lieutenant Governor candidates Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu. We cannot afford any longer to allow our politicians to squander our future. It’s time to end the era of greed that stretches from Ronald Reagan to today. Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigned for Governor in 2010 as a progressive, but has proved himself to be far more interested in catering to rich Wall Street donors than in the serving average New Yorkers.”

As someone who has responded many times to Democratic Party fund-raising appeals on the Internet, I now get daily requests to give more. For the past few weeks, I have been responding that I will not give another penny until President Obama renounces Race to the Top and replaces Arne Duncan with someone who supports public schools. I thought I was the only one doing that, but then I got this letter from John Ogozalek, who teaches in upstate New York.

He wrote, in response to a similar appeal:

” Hancock, New York 13783
August 18, 2014

“Dear People Sitting in Fancy Offices In Charge of the Democratic Party,

“Why, why on Earth would I send a donation to politicians who seem intent on harming my family and our kids’ school?

“What a HUGE error the Democratic Party brass has made attacking public schools and teachers. What a bunch of dummies kissing off the support of millions of MIDDLE CLASS voters. (Does the corporate cash mean that much to you??)

“Tell Barack Obama and Arne Duncan that they have FAILED the Democratic Party….they’ve FAILED our children.

“Race to the Top? Farce to the Top!

“Governor Andrew Cuomo is a sellout, too. I’ve voting for Zephyr Teachout September 9 in the New York State Democratic Primary and will strongly encourage every Democratic I know to do the same

“When Democratic leaders are ready to stop sucking up to big corporate money….when Democratic leaders are ready to stand up for families and their schools…..let me know.

“And, no, I will not use my own first-class stamp on your pre-addressed, money grovelling campaign contribution envelope to “help us save much-needed funds”. How many times do I need to tell you that?

John Ogozalek”

Zephyr Teachout is running against Andrew Cuomo for Governor of New York.

Cuomo twice tried to knock her off the ballot and lost in court both times.

Cuomo refuses to debate her, fearing to let the public hear her.

Why is he afraid of Zephyr?

Read this excellent article by Jaime Franchi in the Long Island Press and you will find out why he is afraid of her candidacy.

“Teachout is hoping to capitalize on the left’s disappointment in Cuomo’s right-leaning positions and leadership, which had promised an end to corruption in Albany but has instead highlighted just how entrenched that corruption is. She’s been hammering Cuomo on these and many other topics while swinging through communities across the state on a recent “Whistleblower Tour,” attempting to chip away at the giant lead his monumental advertising budget, incumbency, and name recognition provides.”

She has a well-established record as a fighter against government corruption.

She wants to reduce the amount of money individuals can give to candidates.

She opposes fracking.

She opposes Common Core mandates.

She will support public education.

On every single point, she differs from Cuomo.

No wonder he is afraid of her.

A large coalition of parent and educator groups in New York State developed a scorecard for voters in the Democratic primary on September 9 and the general elections in November. They concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo was the candidate likeliest to support privatization of public education. Here is their press release:


More information contact:

Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE)

Governor Cuomo’s Education Positions Aligned to Privatize Public Education

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than fifty parent and educator advocacy groups throughout the state, released a scorecard comparing the key education positions of the candidates running for Governor. NYSAPE personally communicated with all the candidates’ campaign teams. NYSAPE is committed to communicating the most accurate information on issues that matter to parents, teachers, and other friends of public education. New Yorkers who care about public education will have a clear choice for the Democratic primary on September 9 and for the general election on November 4.

Governor Cuomo is the only candidate among the five who supports the Common Core standards. When it comes to the hot-button issue of teacher tenure, Rob Astorino opposes the law as it stands now. Zephyr Teachout, Howie Hawkins, and Randy Credico support teacher tenure. However, the Governor is noncommittal as his reply was, “Any change to the current law would have to be carefully reviewed”. Similarly, the four challengers are opposed to keeping John King as Education Commissioner. The Governor’s response to NYSAPE was, “It is inappropriate to comment on specific individuals in this context”.

The four challengers also oppose APPR, which ties teacher evaluation to student test scores, while the Governor, a prime sponsor of the law which created the system, fully supports it. All candidates support significantly rolling back time spent on standardized testing. However, the Governor claims that the recent legislation banning K-2 testing and capping test prep time will significantly roll back testing. In reality, it does nothing to reduce standardized testing time for 3rd through 8th grade students.

As to education spending, the Governor opposes fully funding Foundation Aid, Rob Astorino is noncommittal and said “it depends on the state’s financials”, while the other three candidates – namely Zephyr Teachout, Randy Credico and Howie Hawkins – all support full funding. The candidates are similarly polarized when it comes to charter schools. The Governor supports the expansion of charter schools; Astorino who supports charters schools is noncommittal to the expansion, while the other three candidates do not support their expansion.

Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Governor Cuomo has failed to listen to parents and he continues to ignore our concerns. Unlike every other candidate, he does not oppose keeping John King as Commissioner, who has disrespected our views when it comes to our opposition to the Common Core and our need to protect our children’s privacy.”

Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Opt Out said, “We must put an end to the test obsession that has hijacked our classrooms. It’s clear from this scorecard that Governor Cuomo, while he claims he supports a significant rollback, his record says otherwise.”

“The governor boasts the passage of four on-time budgets in a row and that he closed the budget gap. Do not be fooled; these claims are self-serving at best. Cuomo siphoned billions of precious dollars away from public education to satisfy cronyism and business interests. We must remember this come September’s Democratic primary election and November’s general election,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

“Governor Cuomo used his power in Albany to subsidize charter schools in NYC at the expense of our public schools and against the wishes of our democratically-elected mayor,” said NYC public school parent, Nancy Cauthen. “Our neighborhood public schools are hugely overcrowded, with thousands of students sitting in trailers or on waiting lists for kindergarten. And now city taxpayers will have to provide charter schools space in our public school buildings on demand or pay for their rent in private space,” Cauthen further stated.

“NYSAPE is providing this scorecard because it is imperative that voters in New York understand the positions of each candidate running for Governor. APPR, the teacher evaluation system imposed by the Governor, is harming students and teachers who are unfairly judged by this damaging system,” said Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County principal at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York.

“I find it startling that Governor Cuomo won’t commit to supporting teacher tenure, but says that he would have to ‘carefully review’ the law. It is only because of tenure that teachers have the courage to stand up for their students when student rights are abused,” said Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, special education teacher, and Springville-Griffith Institute CSD Board Member.

Tim Farley, Columbia County public school parent, educator, and member of NYSAPE said, “The current Governor refuses to listen to the concerns of parents and educators from across the state to make major course corrections in his educational policies. We demand an end to high-stakes testing and the flawed APPR system, and we want our children’s sensitive data protected once and for all. If he refuses to listen, we will put someone else in office who will.”


In a stirring editorial, the “Nation” magazine endorsed Zephyr Teachout for Governor of New York. Its editorial makes clear that Andrew Cuomo has served the interests of Wall Street, not the people of New York. He is an austerity Governor who has been a disaster for the state’s public schools and children, as well as those who serve the children.

It says, in part:

“We believe New Yorkers who want a more progressive government should vote for Teachout on September 9. The Nation makes this endorsement with the understanding that Teachout may not be able to overcome the political barriers that have been erected, in the state and nationally, to a grassroots, idea-driven campaign. But we believe her candidacy holds out the potential for forging the bold, people-led politics we seek in 2014 and beyond.

“A vote for Teachout sends two critical signals. First, it objects to Cuomo’s approach to electioneering and governing, which is too heavy-handed, too top-down, and too prone to cutting ethical corners. While the governor has done some good on issues like marriage equality, his rightward tilt on education and economic issues has crippled New York’s fight against inequality. And Cuomo has stumbled badly when it comes to addressing corruption, as evidenced by the recent revelations that he meddled with the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, which he created in 2013.

“But there’s more to this challenge than legitimate criticism of Cuomo and corruption. Teachout offers an example of what it means to be a progressive Democrat in the twenty-first century. A distinguished academic and activist, she has been in the forefront of advancing progressive reform for nearly two decades. As a professor at Fordham Law School, the author of important books on political and economic policy, a key figure in Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, and a visionary organizer on behalf of banking and business reforms, she understands that the Democratic Party must move toward progressive populism in order to become more than a tepid alternative to Republican extremism.

“Thus, the second signal that a vote for Teachout will send is a demand for change in the Democratic establishment, which cannot continue to dance around the issue of income inequality. It must reject austerity cuts and embrace investment in infrastructure, education and communities, as Teachout and others in the party’s populist wing have. It must recognize the political appeal of battling crony capitalism and corruption. And in the midst of a digital revolution every bit as disruptive as the Industrial Revolution before it, the party’s leadership must recognize the necessity of supporting Net neutrality, ending the digital divide and expanding broadband Internet access—issues that Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, have highlighted.

“A victory by Teachout and Wu would be a dramatic upset—one with the potential to overturn political calculations nationwide. But even a respectable finish could illustrate the strength of the progressive base and keep the proposals that Teachout and Wu have been fighting for alive.


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