Weekend opinion: Governor Cuomo praised for deal, dinged for ethics

Morning, folks.  A June-like day out there this Sunday morning, so I assume most of you are reading this on Monday morning at work when you’re supposed to be, well, working.  Here’s what’s stirring the passions of local editorial writers this weekend.

The Watertown Daily Times praises Governor Andrew Cuomo for securing a Tier VI pension category for new government workers in New York.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature have taken another step to rein in the unsustainable costs of public employee pensions by adding a new tier to the system that raises employee contributions and incorporates an optional alternative to the traditional defined benefits plan.

The new Tier VI just two years after the state had added a fifth tier to the state pension system is a major accomplishment for Gov. Cuomo, who came to office pledging to reduce state spending without raising taxes.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise echoes that praise, but the paper blasts the governor for getting there ugly.

It is disappointing to see Andrew Cuomo’s first term take the same path as that of New York governors before him: Start off strong, not just talking reform but actually changing some of the undemocratic practices in Albany, and then, come crunch time, slide back into the familiar, murky pattern of governance by three men in a closed back room, wheeling and dealing with high-stakes issues that should be debated publicly on the Assembly and Senate floors.

That same sour taste was shared by the Glens Falls Post Star’s managing editor Ken Tingley.

Gov. Cuomo has proved he can get things done, but it is more often than not ugly, backroom wheeling and dealing with no attempt to gauge the will of the people.

Ultimately, in an all-night orgy of legislation, everyone got a little of what they were asking for, but Gov. Cuomo may have made “pragmatic” a dirty word when he gave away fair, impartial voting districts in exchange for casino gambling and pension reform for state workers.

Meanwhile, in yet another sign of how much pressure public sector workers are under to accept lower pay and benefits (see Tier VI discussion above), the Plattsburgh Press Republican is praising Beekmantown teachers for accepting a pay freeze next year.

The Teachers Association last week agreed to a pay freeze for the 2012-13 school year to help the district cope with a $3.2 million gap between budget revenues and expenses.

Everyone in the district — from the students who sit in their classroom to the senior citizens worried about their tax bills — should express gratitude to the teachers for being willing to abandon their promised raises to save the district $300,000.

So there you go.  A governor who accomplishes a lot, but gets dinged on style and ethics points; and state and local government workers under more pressure.  Chime in below.

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10 Comments on “Weekend opinion: Governor Cuomo praised for deal, dinged for ethics”

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  1. Joseph M. Liotta says:

    A beautiful Sunday morning indeed. As the Gospel was read this morning at St. Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral it turned my thoughts to the ugliness of the Governor and The NYS State Legislature, and their despicable, in the middle-of-the-night affair.

    The Gospel appointed for today was one of the most familiar in all of the New Testament: John 3:14-21. These are the lines that connected with me. They are about light, the light of God.

    “People loved darkness, rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light because their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”.

    I see the actions of the Governor and the NYS State Legislature as evil.
    Here is what the Governor said about operating in the middle of the night and I’m paraphrasing: Government is about action. It is not a debating society. We had to do it in the middle of the night for it to pass. The process doesn’t really matter as long as the product is strong. What the Governor is saying is that it wouldn’t pass in the light of day.

    It really does matter Governor. Evil does not like the light of day. So much for transparency.

    One political move he tried to make was to separate the NYC Fire and Police from the bill. The reason: To blunt the political ads sure to arise and to divide teachers and the rest of public employees from the NYC Police and Fire Departments. It backfired.

    Andrew Cuomo has no respect for public sector employees, past present and especially those in the future. He is the product of a parochial education and he’s led a sheltered life. I am also not happy with our local state legislators.They went along to get along.

    Here is my prediction. They are going to come up with a state aid to education package that will be much more generous than expected. They will hope that this gets them off the hook in a convoluted way.

  2. Jim Bullard says:

    I am disappointed, no make that disgusted, with Andrew Cuomo. He promised openness, we got backroom deals. He swore that he would veto any redistricting that was not drawn up by a non-partisan group and then he gave the legislators every partisan thing they wanted. Yeah, I know, it was in return for a promise that they will amend the constitution to give us a non-partisan districting process ten years from now. How laughable. All the legislature has to do is bring it up to a vote twice and have it fail one or both times then say “we tried’ but it wouldn’t pass. It would also be subject to a public referendum but I’m betting $10 right now it will never get that far. Neither party has any intention of actually making it happen. The only thing that would have made it happen was his veto. Then the court would have imposed a non-partisan plan and by the time it came up again the legislature would have no incentive not to amend the constitution. To top things off he bought into the line that the public employee pensions are to blame for the state’s fiscal problems when the real problem was that after committing to the previous tiers they failed to fund them as promised and then called the program “unsustainable”. That’s like committing to a mortgage, not making full payments and then blaming the bank when the house gets foreclosed. I hoped he would be different but he isn’t. He’s just another politician who makes promises he fails to keep then shifts blame to others.

  3. Pete Klein says:

    If loving the night makes a person evil, I guess I am evil. I also prefer winter over summer and fall over spring.
    This isn’t what is meant? Sorry but this idea of light and white being good and what is dark and black being evil has created its own amount of evil.
    But speaking of the governor, I wouldn’t go so far as to call him evil – and I no fan of his. I regard the 2% cap as nothing more than a shell game, especially considering all of the unfunded mandates imposed by the state and federal governments.
    The redistricting stuff wouldn’t matter so much if people (voters) would just get beyond voting for parties and vote for the person.

  4. Bob S says:

    I think alot of republicans will take Pete Klein’s suggestion and cross over to vote for Cuomo next time, if there is a next time. Very few people will remember the redistricting issue but6 a great many people will remember that Cuomo, a democrat, stood up to the public employee unions.

  5. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    I’m with Jim above. I find the actions of not only the Governor, but the legislature as well to be totally self serving. I just hope the voters remember this come November and when Cuomo seeks reelection or election to a higher post (which is what I think he’ll do). Cuomo will not get my vote ever again. Bring back Spitzer!

  6. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I believe that Gov Cuomo is doing about as good a job as one could expect given the situation that he found upon entering office. He was elected by a very wide margin and he approval ratings remain high.

    There has been mention of “backroom deals” that would seem to go against his campaign comments of making government more transparent. Don’t judge him too harshly. I remember similar comments made during an earlier campaign that haven’t proven out either.

  7. sratchy says:

    I think Cuomo’s doing a fine job; he’s doing what needs to be done to fix the economy and state finances. the truth is most voters dont care about redistricting/

  8. Walker says:

    Scratchy, you may be right, but if so, it’s pathetic. The whole point of Gerrymandering is to reduce the value of each voter’s vote and to keep the incumbents that we are all so heartily sick of in office forever.

  9. Pete Klein says:

    I don’t know but one can hope the politicians who think they can win elections by gerrymandering get their feelings hurt when voters don’t vote the way they are expected to vote.

  10. Walker says:

    Pete, we can always hope, but they’ve been doing this stuff for decades, and they’re still there.

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