Cuomo administration gets tough with… Canada?!

Gov. Cuomo at the Battle of Peace Bridge

Cartoonist Marquil depicts NY Gov. Cuomo as a War of 1812 re-enactor.

Some quarrels are real, some are manufactured by press accounts.

What, then, are observers to make of a reported dust-up between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Canada?

To be specific, this reported quarrel is taking place between representatives of the Cuomo administration and Canadian members of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, a 10-person board that runs the Peace Bridge.

According the no less than the New York Times,  “… the administration has all but declared war on a new enemy”. The May 27th article by Danny Hakim goes on to say:

In recent months, Mr. Cuomo’s chief representative to the binational agency that manages the bridge has described his Canadian counterparts, in e-mails he sent to them, as “duplicitous,” criticizing their “deceitful, disrespectful and arrogant behavior.”

“The fact that you ask for ‘mutual respect’ is nothing short of laughable,” the Cuomo representative, William B. Hoyt III, told the Canadians.

The dispute began over efforts to expand the plaza on the New York side of the bridge, with Canadian members of the authority’s board expressing concern about spending far more for land than its appraised value. Things quickly turned personal.

Perhaps in response to the NTY coverage, this is starting to pop up in Canadian media accounts too, as in this 5/28 item from the Vancouver Observer.

It’s an open secret that Andrew Cuomo is being groomed for national office by the Democratic Party, and thus must show off some international-relations chops. He certainly chose a weird way of doing so, and it’ll be difficult for him to come out of this looking good, even if he gets what he wants. “Fighting on the Peace Bridge” is a ready-made attack ad.

The Epoch Times says a 5-5 deadlock occurred at a meeting last Friday and

Cuomo allies last week proposed legislation in Albany to dissolve the Peace Bridge Authority, saying it is no longer a functioning body.

The board is scheduled to meet again June 28.

Meanwhile the NYT reported that last Friday’s meeting  (presumably the same meeting in question?)

…the Americans decided to attend an authority board meeting. But when it came time to take the routine step of approving the minutes from an earlier meeting, they refused.

Clearly, all is not peaceable in that boardroom at present. At least one observer (Matthew Coutts, blogging for the Daily Brew) opined that “…this power struggle could get worse before it gets better.”

Here’s the take from Buffalo, as expressed in a May 26th column by Buffalo News senior Metro columnist Donn Esmonde:

Don’t get me wrong – ideally, what both Cuomo and the bridge authority want would be done yesterday. Talk of a bridge/plaza redo predates the Internet. We desperately need a consensus-reached, community-vetted plan for a sensible U.S. plaza. But I think Cuomo’s grab-the-reins move is a major miscalculation. It is borne of equal parts arrogance, Cuomo’s unfamiliarity with Canada’s process-devoted culture and an understandable reluctance by Canadian authority members to let an outsider into the engine room. Reaching across the Niagara River is a serious Cuomo overreach. I don’t see where Cuomo has much leverage. In New York, he can rally allies and coerce enemies with threats or rewards. But his juice stops at the Canadian border.

So, is this a clash of bureaucratic cultures? Personalities? Or both?

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5 Comments on “Cuomo administration gets tough with… Canada?!”

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  1. V. Burnett says:

    Well, if this is a stunt to show off some bizarre international relations agenda in preparation for a presidential run, I can tell you that I’ll be throwing my vote away for a third party that election season. Considering how Cuomo has alienated both Upstate Conservatives with his mishandling of Gun Control and Upstate Liberals with his butchering of the Education System, all of his positive ratings must be coming from predominantly Liberal downstate areas where school funding is rosy and no one cares to own a gun. Now he chooses to bicker with our cousin Canada? Not a wise move.

  2. Jim Bullard says:

    His father was a brilliant man who was always in command of the facts. Andrew is (IMO) an ordinary politician looking to play the current situation to his own career advantage. And he does it rather poorly. He lost me when he vowed to stop the legislature from gerrymandering the redistricting after the 2010 census and then totally caved on it. I’ve yet to see him do anything as governor that makes me see him as presidential material.

  3. The Original Larry says:

    Cuomo is a hack politician too used to bullying the drones in thrall to the NY Democrat party. His act won’t play nationally or internationally.

  4. tootightmike says:

    Cuomo is better at being Governor than he’ll ever be as President.

  5. Marlo Stanfield says:

    The Canadians dare to defy Cuomo? Off with their heads!

    This was in the Buffalo News a month or two ago. In both that article and the Times one, Cuomo comes off horribly. Rather than deal with people, he tries to destroy them if he can’t get his way.

    I’m no expert on the Peace Bridge, but I’ve crossed it, and I don’t know why he’s so hell bent on expanding the plaza on the American side. The American side seemed fine to me; it was the Canadian that could use some improvement, the traffic flow pattern didn’t look to make much sense and it was very confusing if you were walking as to where to go. And the tunnel to Canada where you pass under the bridge after walking across is dark and full of litter and generally feels like a good place to get stabbed. And my understanding is that most of the people who live around the bridge are against it, because you’d have to knock down homes in what is a generally poor neighborhood. But I guess they don’t count. What are they going to do, vote Republican?

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