Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No, everything is far from all right between "Big Bill" de Blasio and "Boy Andrew" Cuomo


-- cover by Bruce McCall: "Moving Day" [Click to enlarge]

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
-- Sun-tzu

"There's no goniff like a left-wing goniff."
-- Calvin Trillin repertory kibbitzer Harold the Committed

by Ken

Since this is a New York story, I thought it would be a good time to present the February 2 New Yorker cover commemorating the magazine's historic decamping from Times Square to Manhattan's nether regions and the new World Trade Center tower. (We eavesdropped recently on cartoon editor Bob Mankoff's grapplings with the great relocation.)

And we should note that the stately moving procession depicted by great New Yorker artist-writer could not have happened during the Great Storm Traffic 'n' Transit Ban, which has become even more controversial since the portion of the storm that wound up striking the Big Apple turned out to be so much less than the direst weather prognostications had prepared us for. And as I was noting last night, it seems to be Mayor Bill de Blasio rather than Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking the heat for the 11pm Monday transit total shutdown, even though that decision clearly came from the governor. (The MTA, which operates nearly all the transit facilities in the metropolitan area, is a state agency.)

Now we learn that "Big Bill" de B not only had no input into the transit-shutdown decision, but his people got a whopping 15 minutes' notice of the announcement being made by "Boy Andrew" C.

It's not exactly news that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio aren't best buds, and perhaps not that hard to understand. For one thing, NYS governors and NYC mayors never get along, and the difficulties are often worse, not better, when they're of the same parety. Then, Boy Andrew and Big Bill are wildly difficult sorts of political animals. While we may question the legitimacy of the mayor's progressive credentials, it's probably enough for the governor that he even claims them -- enough, that is, for him to hate the guy. Boy Andrew's approach to government is rather unapologetically "Let's all get along," where the "us" refers to him and the big-money interests.

Still, I don't know that it was generally known just how bad relations between the mayor and the governor are.

During the blanket pre-storm and then actual-storm coverage, it was noted occasionally that the two never appeared together. This might have been attributed to their busy storm-preparedness schedules, but there really didn't seem to be much indication that they or their people were even in especially close contact. It wasn't till the meteorological storm had passed us that we learned about the other storm brewing.
DNAinfo New York
Mayor Got 15 Minutes Notice of Cuomo's Subway Shutdown for Snow

By Jeff Mays and Trevor Kapp

Snow falling on subway tracks as seen from the Gates Avenue J/Z platform on Jan. 26, 2015, as a snowstorm headed for New York City.

MIDTOWN — Mayor Bill de Blasio got just a 15-minute head's up that the governor planned to announce the subway would be completely shut down because of a storm meteorologists predicted would dump 2 feet of snow on the city, an unprecedented snow-related move.

The news came despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's assurances Monday that his office was "totally coordinated" with the mayor, and was the latest indication that the leaders may not be on the same page.

"We did not get a lot of advance notice," de Blasio said Tuesday at a City Hall press conference.

Cuomo announced about 4:45 p.m. Monday that the subway would stop operating at 11 p.m. The governor and his aides said the move would help protect subway equipment and allow service to be restored more quickly.

City Hall sources say they learned of the plan just 15 minutes beforehand.

City and state officials had been saying throughout the day that subway service would be ramped down in the evening in order to store trains on the express tracks underground. But they had stopped short of suggesting a full subway closure.

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The admission by de Blasio only spurred more questions about a rift between he and Cuomo.

The governor handed de Blasio a defeat over charter school expansion last year and, more recently, Cuomo was said to be considering stepping into the increasingly nasty feud between the mayor and the police unions.

De Blasio, however, did step up to support Cuomo's lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul when polls showed a tighter-than-expected race. Cuomo also recently supported extending mayoral control of schools and agreed to continue funding one of de Blasio's signature initiatives of pre-K expansion.

The two leaders did not appear together publicly before or after the storm, which dropped about 10 inches of snow in the city, falling far short of the 2 feet that meteorologists had predicted.

On Tuesday, de Blasio appeared on CNN and held an afternoon City Hall press conference.

Cuomo held two press conferences Tuesday, one in Midtown and another with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who was highly complimentary of the governor.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio said they had no regrets over shutting down public transportation and enacting a road travel ban.

"To me it was a no-brainer. We had to take precautions to keep people safe," said de Blasio.

"Weather forecasters do the best they can and we respond to the best information we have," Cuomo said Tuesday morning as he lifted road travel restrictions.

goniff. (Yiddish) A thief or dishonest person or scoundrel (often used as a general term of abuse) -- The Free Dictionary
The last time I tried to research my recollection of the exact origin of the above Calvin Trillin quote, for a post called "When a left-leaning crook leaves progressive charities teetering on the brink, we have to help," it was December 30, 2008, and the left-leaning goniff smiling out at readers was none other than Bernie Madoff, whose then-crumbled empire had included, it turned out, donations that seemed wildly generous to any number of progressive charities and enterprises that were devastated by the loss of what,in real-world terms, weren't all that regal sums. I came up short in my research, so I'm going to continue going with my recollection that the source of the quote, from among Trillin's circle of legendary kibbitzers, was the unreconstructed Old Leftie Harold the Committed (aka Hal the C).

Perhaps it's a bit fanciful to conjure an Italian-American goniff, and I suppose I can be questioned for imputing left-wingedness to Boy Andrew. But remember how in the last gubernatorial election it became important to Boy Andrew to preempt the left-wing vote, in his drive to run up an attention-getting reelection margin with a view to the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. So I like to think that even the hard-to-satisfy Hal the C might accept him as at least an honorary left-wing goniff.

As to the famous Sun-tzu friends-and-enemies quote, it may be that Boy Andrew hasn't heard it, 'cause he doesn't seem to much care to have his friend-or-enemy Big Bill anywhere near him.

SCHEDULE NOTE: Next post tomorrow at 7am PT/10am ET

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