Jimmy Vielkind | May 15, 2015
ALBANY—Another day, another banana peel tossed by Andrew Cuomo onto Bill de Blasio’s path to national relevance.
The latest was Cuomo’s statement to the Associated Press that he stands with the police and firefighter unions in their fight with the de Blasio administration over pension costs.
The statement follows two other script-flipping pro-labor gestures by Cuomo in recent days, even as the governor does battle with New York’s teachers’ unions in Albany. Last week, he published a Times op-ed advocating a higher wage for fast-food workers, and, following an unrelated Times investigation of working conditions in nail salons, the governor announced a state crackdown on the owners of those businesses.
Cuomo’s latest statement also comes in the context of other new, Albany-inflected woes for the New York City mayor.
Late Tuesday evening, with de Blasio overnighting in Washington between an appearance with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and a call for more infrastructure spending, the Times reported that the state’s lobbying oversight entity, JCOPE, was questioning why Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit set up to boost de Blasio’s agenda and pay for his trip, hadn’t registered its activities.
Around the same time, the Wall Street Journal posted an article about the state withholding funds for 14 homeless shelters facing persistent code violations, an escalation of a feud between City Hall and the executive chamber that made advocates howl.
“This is a disingenuous, media stunt pulled by the governor to attack the mayor when he is trying to build a national, progressive agenda,” said Jennifer Flynn, the executive director of the advocacy group VOCAL-NY, in a statement.
The state said it found electrical, plumbing and gas violations at 16 shelters that appeared to be longstanding issues. The Cuomo administration has increased funding for the homeless, and the letter showed frustration at a lack of results. De Blasio’s aides shot back that they had set aside $100 million in their upcoming budget, and is already dispatching teams to fix the problem. On Friday afternoon, the state issued a statement saying “the ultimate goal was not to withhold funding,” but make the city develop a plan for such “egregious” violations.