Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

The Alliance for Quality Education, which advocates for full funding of public schools, urges all New Yorkers to contact their legislators to prevent Governor Andrew Cuomo from slashing the budget.

From: Jasmine Gripper
Subject: Urgent action to stop Cuomo’s cuts to public schools!

Governor Cuomo is about to make devastating cuts to public school funding, as early as next week.

When they passed the budget earlier this month, State Legislators handed unprecedented power to the Governor to alter the state budget throughout the year. As we approach the first budget-revision deadline on April 30th, Cuomo has released a “plan” that outlines massive 20 percent budget cuts across the board. Experts say that would bring schools aid back to 2014 funding levels.

We must stop these devastating cuts!

Cuts this deep pose an existential threat to the fabric of our public education system. Governor Cuomo has made it sound like austerity is the only option for the state to make ends meet amidst a financial and public health crisis — but austerity measures and cutting essential funding to public schools will only make this crisis worse.

Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of Black and Brown students:

New York State can immediately borrow money from the federal government at near-zero interest rates to provide cash needed to keep our schools funded.

State Legislators can raise revenue with new tax brackets for billionaires and millionaires. New York is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world. But our state also has some of the worst inequality in the nation, including our spending on public education. Not only can our State Legislators raise revenue here in New York — they have a moral obligation to do so.

Congress can act quickly to provide additional relief to New York in the form of a fourth stimulus package that will ensure that the state cannot make additional cuts and allow the federal dollars to be the relief it is intended to be.

Cuomo’s proposed cuts would cause unprecedented harm and set back the education of thousands of students. This is going to be especially true once schools reopen and students will have to not only catch up academically, but have to deal with the loss and trauma they experienced from COVID-19.

We have just days to stop massive cuts to public schools, and it is going to take all of us urging our elected leaders — at the state and federal level — to fight for our children. We cannot allow Governor Cuomo to take even more from those who have the least to give — Black, Brown and low-income children and families — so that the ultra-rich can keep getting richer.

Write to your State Legislators and representatives in Congress now, and urge them to take action to prevent Cuomo’s cuts. New York’s Congressional delegation must fight for a stimulus package that will protect our students. And when the State legislature convenes, the first item on their agenda must be taxing the wealthy to invest in our schools and communities. Send an email to your representatives now!

Governor Cuomo isn’t New York’s supreme leader. Once he makes his official proposal public, the legislature will still have 10 days to approve it or strike it down. State Legislators cannot stand by idly and allow the Governor to make oppressive cuts to public schools. Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins must call the legislature back to Albany immediately, so they can take the actions needed to prevent Cuomo’s disastrous plan for cuts. Email them now.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Gripper

Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced this morning that the city’s public schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year, but lessons online would continue.

Governor Andrew Cuomo promptly contradicted the mayor and asserted the decision was his, not the mayor’s.

Parents were outraged by the childish food fight.

Contact: Natasha Capers, 347.610.2754,

Parent Groups Respond to School Closure Decisions:
During a Health Crisis, Leaders Demonstrate a Lack of Leadership

New York City, NY (April 11th, 2020)- Early today, Mayor Bill DeBlasio under the advice of public health experts, announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year due to the raging coronavirus pandemic. At the epicenter of the decision is the crippling impact the virus has had on our city and people. Later today, Governor Cuomo announced that there was no decision to close schools yet and that as governor it was legally his sole decision to make.

This squabbling between the mayor and the governor is embarrassing and causing tremendous stress for families, students, and educators. Their inability to come together, and make decisions informed by the well being of students and families, is immoral and will continue to have disastrous consequences for our communities, especially those so deeply impacted by the inequity in healthcare and testing. Parents need clarity in this moment, but Governor Cuomo’s constant need to have control once again takes precedence over him making the right decision for families.

Delayed decision making has led New York City and the surrounding suburbs to become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, with far more cases than many countries have. It is time for Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to end their narcissistic feud and start working together for the benefit of all of New York’s students and families.

We need leaders to put aside egos during this crisis and prioritize the well-being of students and their families. We need them to show leadership and to be on one accord for the health and safety of New York State and City. The consequence is unnecessary confusion and additional stress in a time when school communities are already traumatized.

David Weigel of the Washington Post answers questions that readers have asked:

In the old world, the one we lived in before the coronavirus, this would be primary day in Puerto Rico. A few days earlier, Joe Biden would have probably won Georgia and announced an “insurmountable delegate lead” over Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump would be holding rally after rally, flying into swing states to prove the enthusiasm gap between him and the Democrats.

That world doesn’t exist anymore, so it’s a good time to answer some questions from readers and subscribers. Many of them still had questions about the primary, which is not over, although no delegate lead as large as Joe Biden’s has ever been overcome by a challenger. A few had questions about how elections will go forward during a pandemic, something that has not happened since 1918. Luckily, most of the questions people have about this election have answers.

Bob asks: “Does the administration have the legal right to postpone an election due to this pandemic?”

This was a very popular question and, luckily, pretty easy to answer. Primary elections are run by state governments and in some cases, state parties, and they can be moved rather easily. But the federal election, while administered by state governments, has its date set by federal law. It would take a bipartisan act of Congress to change the date — possible, but not likely. It would take an amendment to the Constitution to delay the inauguration of whoever wins the 2020 election — possible, and even less likely.

But the short answer is no: The Trump administration cannot postpone an election all by itself. The circumstances that would get people thinking about that might be a second coronavirus outbreak in October. But we have six months before early voting gets underway in key states, and there is time for states to come up with contingency voting plans. Could they fritter that time away and fail to fund it? Could some states put comprehensive vote-by-mail in place while other states don’t? Yes and yes.

Debbie asks: “What happens to delegates of candidates who won them and later dropped out? Warren has not supported either Biden nor Sanders. Does she still hold on to the delegates she won? Or can she choose where they go?”

It’s complicated, and it’s one reason that the delegate counts you see collected by media outlets can diverge so much. While 3,979 delegates are being allocated by voters in primaries and caucuses, most state parties select the actual delegates — the people who will represent the candidate at the party’s convention — after the voting is over. In Iowa, for example, five candidates got delegates, but only two of them remain in the race. When activists meet at their local conventions, they will elect the actual flesh-and-blood humans who will represent Biden and Sanders and delegates.

In most states, this will be a boon for Sanders. Every candidate who has quit the race has endorsed Biden, except for Elizabeth Warren. Had they remained active candidates they could have released those delegates to Biden at the convention. Instead, their departure changes the math for selecting delegates; in the nine states where candidates besides Biden and Sanders won delegates, the local conventions will base their selection on the two-way vote between Sanders and Biden instead.

Rob asks: “Is there any possibility that Andrew Cuomo could emerge as a draft candidate for the Democratic ticket?”

Outside Twitter, no, there is not any organized effort to give the nomination to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The primacy of New York in American media, and in the outbreaks so far, has clearly given Cuomo the best coverage of his career. Even the glow around his push for same-sex marriage in New York state was dimmer than this. Other Democratic governors have impressed voters with their pandemic response, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, but Cuomo is clearly the star.

Still, let’s be honest: The “draft somebody else” question is less about Cuomo in particular than about the worries surrounding potential Democratic nominees who would turn 80 in their first terms.

Were Biden or Sanders to leave the race now, the remaining candidate would secure almost all remaining delegates and have enough to win the nomination on the first ballot of a convention. If that candidate became unable to serve, delegates would be free to select someone else, and it would not matter whether that person had run in the primary. Were both candidates to continue, but the candidate with the most delegates became unable to serve, it would be up to those delegates to decide whether to nominate someone new, or whether to walk over and nominate the runner-up.

On their current trajectory, Democrats are not heading for a contested convention; that is, one of their remaining candidates should have enough delegates to win the nomination outright. And some of the “draft Cuomo” chatter has quieted as Biden has become more assertive, doing interviews from his studio.

In response to the global pandemic, New York has banned large public gatherings. But thus far, public officials have not closed the public schools, many of which gather hundreds of children and adults in close contact. A significant group of parents and educators are calling upon Governor Cuomo and the members of the state Board of Regents to close the public schools, as many other states have done. Of course, public officials must take care to provide for feeding children who depend on school meals and to protect children with special needs. But the highest priority must be to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, their families, and their communities.

If you live in New York, the Network for Public Education hopes you will sign this petition.

To: Governor Cuomo and the New York State Board of Regents
From: [Your Name]

Dear Governor Cuomo and Members of the Board of the Regents:

We are school leaders, school board trustees and members, community leaders, educators, and parents of New York State. All across our nation, schools and their communities are working overtime to prioritize the public safety and well-being of students, staff, parents, and even community members who do not have children in school. Although each of our localities has its own ground zero in this pandemic, each of our localities is engaged in fighting the same uphill battle – trying to slow down and contain the rampant spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus in an effort to protect all of our community members, including our first responders and healthcare providers. Unfortunately, our important and individual piecemeal efforts are being hampered by federal and New York State mandates that are unreasonable and unworkable during this pandemic.

Now is the time for bold and decisive leadership. Based on consultation with medical experts and in concert with them, we call on Governor Cuomo and the entire New York State Board of Regents to close all New York State public schools — effective immediately – for a minimum two-week period, include public schools in the “public gathering” ban, and set uniform Statewide health and safety protocols.

We take our children’s education seriously and do not make these requests lightly. However, these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures and requests; if our children and our staff are not in good health, proper learning cannot happen. Moreover, piecemeal efforts that vary from community to community will not effectively stop the spread of this disease that knows no geographic limitations. In tandem with these requests, we urge our state leaders to make a public commitment to loosen the grip of the current federal and state mandates that are tying our hands. We call upon our state leaders to ensure that Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order waiver of the mandatory “180-day” requirement does not include stipulations that hamper localities from doing what is expedient and necessary to protect the health of its children, staff, parents, and community members, free from fear of any funding loss or other penalty. In addition, we call upon the Board of Regents to take all necessary and drastic measures to ensure that all students continue on their current path to graduation, without penalty.

And, finally, we urge our state leaders to support and vigorously pursue federal waivers related to ESSA’s accountability requirements, and to cancel the 2020 NYS Grades 3-8 ELA and Math State assessments. It is critical that the Board of Regents send a clear message that public health and safety concerns override the need to administer assessments.

Please understand that we are fully aware of the hardship that school closures impose upon some of the families we serve. Our government and our communities will work tirelessly together to mitigate these hardships. The health and well-being of our children and community members depend on it.

Thank you,

Dr.Michael Hynes, Superintendent
Port Washington Union Free Schools

Port Washington UFS Board of Education
Norah Johnson
Elizabeth Weisburd
Emily Beys
Deborah Brooks
Rachel Gilliar
Larry Greenstein
Dave Kerpen

New Paltz CSD Board of Education
Dr. Bernard Josephsberg, Interim Superintedent
Diana Armstead
Glenn LaPolt
Dominick Profaci
Sophia Skiles
Bianca Tanis
Teresa Thompson
Micheal O’ Donnell

A mother in the Riverhead, New York, School District wrote an opinion article about underinvestment in the small city’s public schools. Years ago, Governor Cuomo slapped a tax cap of 2% on all districts to prove his conservative credentials. In addition, Riverhead has a charter school siphoning off millions of dollars and now wants to expand. This week, voters must pass a bond issue to meet the basic needs of the schools.

Allyson Matwey writes:

Because of the 2% tax cap and the lack of fair foundation aid from our state, which owes our district more than $30 million, our schools have been starved of the money they need to provide our children with the sound, basic education to which they are entitled. 

In addition, we are unique in that the charter school is in our town and costs us $7 million-plus per year.  And now, they want to expand and “build from the ground up” to educate a few more students, which will cost us millions more.  So, we are left with few options as we are faced with a crisis of overcrowded schools and buildings falling into disrepair.  We must ask ourselves, as taxpayers of this community, will we continue to keep the promise of a sound basic education for our and our children’s futures?  …

Two of our schools, Pulaski Street Elementary School and Riverhead High School, are already bursting at the seams.  Both schools are presently at more than 100% capacity, with large class sizes and hallways that are difficult to pass through.  These conditions are neither safe nor are they conducive to our children’s access to a sound, basic education.  The Riverhead School Board has had research conducted by Western Suffolk BOCES that reveals that our enrollment will continue to climb over the next several years. So, what are we to do?  

In order to address this overcrowding as well as the disrepair of some of our buildings’ facilities, the Riverhead Board of Education has put forward two bond propositions to provide us with an opportunity to uphold the promise of a sound, basic education to our children. …

Unless we are willing to make a small sacrifice for all of our children, split sessions at both Pulaski Street and the high school are not a threat but a reality. This could in turn affect sports, music, arts, and other extracurricular activities such as clubs.  For the average assessed home in Riverhead valued at $43,000, Proposition 1 would cost only $16.41/month; Proposition No. 2 will cost only $3/month.  Aren’t our children worth less than $20/month?  And for those wondering about staffing costs, the district has demonstrated and reassured the taxpayers that they are steadfast on not breaching the 2% tax cap.  Through creative financial planning such as retirement incentives and shared services the district appears to be in a good place to hire the additional staff that would be needed anyway.

The writer cites the many achievements of the children and urges local residents to pass the bond issue to meet the basic needs of the schools and their children.

The vote will be conducted on February 25. Every parent, grandparent, and taxpayer should invest in the children and vote YES.




The charter lobby in New York State had a clever strategy: Invest campaign cash in Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and in the Republican-controlled State Senate. For years, it worked. Cuomo gave the charter industry whatever it wanted. The Republican Senate showered favors on charters, even requiring the City of New York to give them free space in public school buildings, and if they didn’t like the space, to pay their rent in private buildings. NYC is the only city in the nation that is compelled to pay the charters’ rent in private space.

However, the charter industry’s cushy arrangement fell apart last fall when progressive Democratic candidates beat Republican incumbents and took control of the State Senate, thus assuring Democratic control of both houses. The new leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, was insulted in 2017 by the billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who was then chair of the board of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain.

The charter industry wants more charters in New York City, because they have reached the cap. There are still unused charter slots in the state but not in the city. So the lobbyists want either to lift the cap or to let the city have the unused charter slots from the rest of the state.

Peter Goodman, long-time analyst of education politics in New York, predicts that the industry will get neither because the politicians they backed are no longer in office:

Not only will the charter school cap not be lifted it is possible legislation hostile to charter schools may be folded into the “big ugly.”

A few bills dealing with the reauthorization of charter schools and the auditing of charter schools have just been introduced.

Factions will advocate, seek allies, lobby electeds and as the adjournment date, June 19th approaches totally disparate bills will be linked, factions will find “friends,” at least for the moment.

Elections have consequences, charter PAC dollars “elected” Republicans who used their leverage to pass charter friendly legislation; an election cycle later Democrats defeated the charter PAC endorsed candidates, elections have consequences, the leverage switched, and, we can expect that legislation more friendly to teacher unions and public school advocates may become law.


Jake Jacobs describes the dramatic ouster of fake Democrats from the State Senate and a changed landscape in New York.

Until the last election, Governor Andrew Cuomo worked closely with an odd coalition of Tepublicans and fake Democrats in the State Senate to give charter schools whatever they wanted. Cuomo collected millions of dollars from hedge fund managers and Wall Street who love charter schools.

The so-called Independent Democratic Conference caucused with Republicans to assure Republican Control of the State Senate.

The new State Senators are anti-charter and anti-standardized testing.

Perhaps just as significant as the Ocasio-Cortez “earthquake” was the September 13th aftershock, where six other insurgent, grassroots-backed New York candidates won primaries in State Senate races against members of the former Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a controversial group of eight breakaway lawmakers who shared power, perks—and donors—with senate Republicans for over seven years.

All six “No IDC” challengers handily beat their Republican opponents in the general election November 6, including Alessandra Biaggi, a former legal counsel in the Governor Andrew Cuomo administration who ran on the promise to “stop siphoning money to privately run charter schools” and a call to prevent charters from expanding in New York.

Despite being outspent, Biaggi defeated Jeff Klein, the ringleader of the IDC, who funneled upwards of $700,000 in charter industry PAC money to IDC members. Working with Republicans, Klein repeatedly blocked funding for needy public schools while dramatically increasing per-pupil spending for charters. A thirteen year incumbent, Klein lost 54-46 percent, out-hustled by Biaggi who attended public schools in Pelham before hitting the Ivy league, and at thirty-two years old still owes over $180,000 in student debt.

Defeating another IDC member awash in charter PAC money was progressive Robert Jackson, a longtime New York City Councilman who was an original lead plaintiff in the original 1993 Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit seeking increased funding for impoverished schools.

A fierce critic of school privatization, Jackson is eager to take on “groups such as StudentsFirst who push a non-transparent, corporate agenda that makes money off of children’s backs, strips schools and districts of resources, and undermines public education,” his chief of staff Johanna Garcia tells me in an email. In 2011, Jackson sued the city to stop charter school co-locations, or the takeover of space in public school buildings. He has also been a staunch supporter of the opt-out movement, championing legislation in the New York City Council to reduce standardized testing.

Likely to have a profound impact in Albany, Senator-elect Jackson’s position on standardized testing is resolute: “The sooner and farther away we move from standardized testing, the quicker we can focus on supporting learning environments that are responsive and include teaching critical thinking skills, small class sizes, arts and science programs, recess, and funding for resources, social services and enrichment opportunities.”

In Queens, another progressive Democrat to unseat a pro-charter IDC member is Jessica Ramos, a former aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio with a background as a labor organizer and immigration activist. Also a public school product, Ramos is a mom of two who “cannot wait to opt-out” when her oldest son enters third grade next year. Seeing the stress and waste of the testing regime, she “absolutely” backs legislation to eliminate state testing mandates.

Ramos opposes diverting funding from public schools to charters who she sees pushing out high need students in order to preserve their “brand.” Like Robert Jackson, Ramos supports the NAACP moratorium on new charter schools as well as the longtime fight for equitable public school funding.

Also in Queens, former New York City Comptroller John Liu defeated former IDC state senator Tony Avella, who in 2009, claimed to be adamantly anti-charter. But in 2014, Avella joined the IDC and voted for budgets that increased funding for charter co-locations and school choice. Senator-elect Liu wants to prevent the growth of charters and make them pay rent to the city, while also reducing the emphasis on standardized testing.

Cuomo won’t be able to squash progressive legislation anymore. There’s a new posse in Albany.

The New York Daily News reported that friends of the charter school industry dropped $130,000 into Cuomo’s well-funded campaign as it comes to a close. Cuomo is comfortably ahead in the polls, but he always like to raise more money than he needs. Charter supporters are worried that Democrats might win control of the State Senate, which has supported charter schools. So they need to cement their ties with Cuomo–with lots of dollars.

Cuomo, a charter school backer who took heat on the issue during his Democratic primary against actress Cynthia Nixon, received three of his biggest donations the past three weeks from individuals with strong ties to the industry, including $25,000 each from Jim Walton and Carrie Walton Penner, the son and granddaughter, respectively of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
The governor also received $40,000 from Sonia Jones, a yoga booster for youth and wife of billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, a big backer of charter schools.

He also received $15,000 from the Great Public Schools PAC created by Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, and $15,100 from New Yorkers for Putting Students First, a pro-charter political action committee.

Billy Easton, executive director of the teacher union-backed Alliance for Quality Education, knocked the donations to Cuomo.
“Here we go again with Andrew Cuomo and his pay-to-play relationship with charter schools,” Easton said. “The Wall Street charter donors lost big when the Independent Democrats got wiped out in the primary, they are investing in Andrew Cuomo now in hopes that he will be the one person still carrying their water in Albany.”

Cuomo, according to his latest disclosure filing made public Monday morning, has $6.75 million left in his campaign account after spending $3.1 million, largely on TV ads, the past three weeks and raising $638,687 during the same period.

This article by Ross Barkan reminds us of why Andrew Cuomo never won the hearts of progressives and never will. He really is not a progressive, and he has many tricks up his sleeve to prevent unified Democratic control of the Legislature. He is now playing urban Democrats against suburban Democrats. He will pull any trick to foil his arch-enemy Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City. He persuaded suburban Democrats to pledge unity, based on the phony claim that the Big City doesn’t pay its “fair share” of the costs of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. As the article shows, NYC does pay a fair share, and Cuomo likes to pretend he is not in charge of the agency, which is currently struggling with an aging infrastructure and poor service. Fixing it is Cuomo’s job, but he is a shirker.

Correction: New York State teachers’ union did not endorse Cuomo or anyone else on the Democratic primary. However, it remains a fact that Cuomo has repeatedly insulted teachers and imposed a draconian (and failed) teacher evaluation plan. Cuomo still loves charter schools because they are the hobby of Wall Street, and their billionaire backers support Cuomo.

He periodically reminds us who he is and what he cares about.

Andrew Cuomo is Governor of New York. He is running for his third term. The New York Times endorsed him in the Democratic primary. The next day, it wrote an editorial about the swamp of corruption in Albany.

Eight days after Cuomo’s primary victory, the Times published this article about his closest aide, who was convicted of accepting bribes. The code word for bribe was “ziti.”

Why Joseph Percoco’s Conviction Matters, Especially to Governor Cuomo

“Thursday will not be a good day for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“One of his former closest aides and friends, Joseph Percoco, will be sentenced at 2 p.m. for his conviction in March on federal corruption charges.

“Mr. Percoco, 49, held the title of executive deputy secretary, but that didn’t begin to describe how powerful and important he was to Mr. Cuomo. With Mr. Percoco almost certainly heading to prison, here are five things to know about the case and its importance.

“Who Is Joseph Percoco?

“Mr. Percoco was viewed as a behind-the-scenes muscle man and logistics specialist, who handled preparations for many of the governor’s events. Mr. Percoco had also been close to Mr. Cuomo’s father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and was described by Andrew Cuomo as “my father’s third son, who I sometimes think he loved the most.”

“But after a nearly eight-week trial, Mr. Percoco was found guilty of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives working for two companies with state business in return for taking official actions to benefit the firms. Much of the money came in the form of a “low-show” job given to his wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, by an energy firm that wanted to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley.

“Mr. Percoco’s trial symbolized what prosecutors, good government groups and Mr. Cuomo’s political opponents have said was Albany’s culture of influence peddling and secret deals, under the governor’s watch.

“Indeed, Mr. Percoco’s name became a campaign watchword for corruption for Cynthia Nixon, Mr. Cuomo’s vanquished primary rival, and it is certain to remain so in the upcoming general election, where Mr. Cuomo, who is seeking a third term, will face off against Marcus J. Molinaro, a Hudson Valley Republican.

“Corruption in Albany? Say it ain’t so.

“If the Percoco conviction had a familiar ring to it, there’s good reason: It was the first of two major corruption cases to buffet Mr. Cuomo’s administration this year, and one of several to shake the state capital in his second term.

“In July, Alain E. Kaloyeros, the former president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, was found guilty in a case involving the governor’s signature upstate economic development project, the Buffalo Billion. Mr. Kaloyeros, once hailed as a genius by Mr. Cuomo, was convicted in a bid-rigging scheme that included a state-funded $750 million solar panel factory on the banks on the Buffalo River.

“That case was sandwiched between the retrials and convictions of two other major Albany figures: Sheldon Silver, the former Assembly speaker, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican State Senate leader, who was convicted days after Mr. Kaloyeros on bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges.

“Albany has had dozens of politicians convicted of various misdeeds over the last decade or so. Indeed, even when Albany tries to take on corruption, it sometimes ends up with more scandal. In 2014, Mr. Cuomo was heavily criticized for interfering with and eventually shutting down a corruption commission that he himself had set up.

“What was the trial’s most pivotal moment?

“Todd Ransom Howe was the star prosecution witness for good reason. Once one of Albany’s better-known lobbyists, Mr. Howe — like Mr. Percoco — had a relationship with the Cuomo family dating back to Mario’s time in the Executive Mansion, working for the elder Mr. Cuomo as a traveling aide. He later served under Andrew Cuomo at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, working as his deputy chief of staff. All the while, he was friendly with Mr. Percoco.

“Still, financial and professional problems soon flared up for Mr. Howe, including a 2003 bankruptcy and a felony theft charge in 2010 after he made a fake bank deposit.

“Prosecutors said Mr. Howe engineered the bribes paid to Mr. Percoco, and Mr. Howe pleaded guilty to eight felonies and was cooperating with prosecutors. But his star turn on the witness stand nearly backfired when he admitted in court that he had violated the terms of his cooperation deal by trying to defraud a credit card company. He was jailed midtrial, although he later returned to testify, and Mr. Percoco was convicted.

“Considering Mr. Howe’s notoriety, it is not surprising that the Cuomo administration has sought to downplay Mr. Howe’s connection to the current governor. But in August, The New York Times obtained nearly 350 pages of emails, showing that Mr. Howe had entree to the top levels of Mr. Cuomo’s administration for years and in the months leading up to Mr. Percoco’s arrest.

“But Mr. Howe’s most lasting legacy may be his — and Mr. Percoco’s — widespread use of a single word: ziti.


“Other than the drama surrounding Mr. Howe, a sideline curiosity emerged during testimony and email exchanges showing that Mr. Percoco and Mr. Howe joked and fretted about bribes, which they had code-named “ziti,” a term used in the HBO mob drama “The Sopranos.”

“Typical was this kind of exchange, after a payment from a company to Mr. Percoco was slow to arrive.

“I have no ziti,” Mr. Percoco wrote. Another time, Mr. Percoco seemed more testy. “Where the hell is the ziti???” he wrote.

“On yet another occasion, Mr. Howe wrote to Mr. Percoco about “Operation Ziti Replenishment.”

“The pasta parlance almost became a running joke during the trial, but it also provided a powerful symbol for the prosecution to invoke in the complex case. In the government’s closing argument, a prosecutor, David Zhou, cited the emails from Mr. Percoco, who he said was “begging, requesting, demanding” ziti.

“He was demanding cash bribes,” Mr. Zhou said.

“And in the end, the jury agreed.“