Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Shortly after the lengthy resignation speech of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave this answer to a request for comment: “The summer of Bill rolls on.” Outsiders may see this as a whimsical response to allegations of rampant sexual harassment ending a governor’s career – and they are likely right. But the remark isn’t surprising to anyone following the small, year-long feud between the two New York politicians.
Since 2014, the public sparring between de Blasio and Cuomo has been one of the most persistent and least productive dynamics in New York State politics, as the two characters battled for influence, exchanged insults, and coordinated their press conferences to make the announcements to each other . Now that Cuomo’s impending exit brings her epic power struggle to an end – at least for now – here’s a look back at some of the most memorable and deplorable episodes of her conflict.
Like many great feuds, de Blasio and Cuomo’s hatred sprang from friendship. Their professional relationship dates back to the late 1990s when Cuomo, Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, appointed de Blasio to oversee the New York area. The honeymoon continued for the next decade, with de Blasio advising Cuomo on how to gracefully save himself from his first failed gubernatorial candidate in 2002 and advocating Cuomo de Blasio as an advocate for the city public in 2009. “I have no better political friend than Bill de Blasio,” Cuomo said on New Year’s Day 2014, shortly after de Blasio was inaugurated as mayor.
But it wasn’t long in de Blasio’s first term as mayor that things turned sour. In March 2014, Cuomo de Blasio rejected efforts to raise income taxes for millionaires living in New York in order to pay for universal pre- and post-school programs, which was a great promise during his campaign. On the same day, the two politicians held dueling rallies in Albany, with de Blasio advocating his education plan when Cuomo reached out to supporters of charter schools who disagreed with the mayor. (It would be the first of many notable double bookings over the years.) Ultimately, Cuomo secured the funding to provide a universal pre-K in town, just not through millionaire tax.
In 2015, de Blasio and Cuomo’s relationship broke up. It started in January when a falling snowstorm caused the governor to shut down the subways for the first time since they opened in 1904. Cuomo headed up de Blasio just 15 minutes before the public announcement; the storm was a bust, after all.
Soon after, de Blasio tried to give Cuomo a taste of his own medicine: In February, the mayor’s office informed the governor’s aide that the city would renovate a train depot in Sunnyside the night before the official announcement to allocate 11,000 units of affordable housing create. But due to Cuomo’s infamous control freak tendencies – and, more importantly, the power imbalance between the mayor and governor on many matters across the five boroughs – the governor vetoed the plan.
The intra-party negotiations between the men in the governor’s mansion and Gracie have long been tense (see Nelson Rockefeller versus John Lindsay in the 1960s or Mario Cuomo versus Ed Koch in the 1980s). But Andrew Cuomo brought his argument with the mayor of the city to the public in an annoying and innovative way. In June 2015, an “anonymous top official” in the Cuomo administration told the New York Daily News that de Blasio was “more politically oriented in his approach … and then he made it almost impossible for him to succeed”. Immediately reporters began asking whether the officer was Cuomo himself, since the person quoted was asking himself questions, the governor’s preferred rhetorical device. When asked about the theory during a press conference, Cuomo essentially admitted that he was the mystery critic: “Sometimes we talk about the record. Sometimes we talk about the background. “
A week after Cuomo’s admission that he had roasted de Blasio anonymously – and hours before the mayor started a trip to the southwest – de Blasio went public with an accusation that would later haunt the governor ”and is not acting“ in the interest ” the New Yorker.
Cuomo advisor Melissa DeRosa responded with a thinly veiled stab: “For those new to the process, it takes coalition building and compromise to get things done in government. We wish the mayor all the best for his vacation. “
Later that summer, an outbreak of Legionnaires in the South Bronx showed the feud was spreading to officials in both administrations, and previewed the pandemic dynamics of the two offices. After bacterial pneumonia killed 10 people and infected over 100, Cuomo declared, “We are taking matters into our own hands.” As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, city officials did not go so smoothly:
Mayor’s aides, after seething over the governor’s actions, did not hide their dissatisfaction with the way [a] Press conference unfolds. “We weren’t pleased that our health commissioner had to interrupt the country’s health commissioner to speak,” said Karen Hinton, the mayor’s chief spokeswoman.
A senior CDC official said at the press conference that New York City had responded appropriately and proactively. But Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, disagreed twice when asked to rate the city’s response. This angered the city officials.
“He dodged the question not just once but twice,” Ms. Hinton said of Dr. Sugar. “The CDC officials say we did everything in accordance with best practices. I don’t know why the country’s health commissioner couldn’t have said the same thing. “
When asked for an answer, Melissa DeRosa, a spokeswoman for the governor, said, “The soap opera is over. It is time to rule. “
In September, New Yorkers seemed tired of the dysfunction: a poll released earlier this month found that a majority of voters believed de Blasio and Cuomo were involved in a feud. 78 percent of them thought their spit was unproductive for the state and the city.
New Yorkers have largely borne the burden of the de Blasio-Cuomo feud, but in December 2016 a white-tailed deer holed up in Harlem’s Jackie Robinson Park got caught in the crosshairs.
We’re live with the wild initiates at Harlem’s Jackie Robinson Park pic.twitter.com/Rjt7PtUNVB
– Andy Newman (@andylocal) December 14, 2016
When the buck left the park and was caught in the grounds of a public housing complex, the mayor’s office said it would be euthanized because Environment Ministry officials determined it could not be safely relocated. An hour after the city shelter where the deer was being held was asked to euthanize it, the governor’s office issued a statement saying, “DEC should provide the city with help with transportation and immediately find a new habitat for it” . De Blasio – notorious for killing another ground mammal elsewhere in town – overruled the governor and stuck to the execution plan.
By the beginning of 2020, the small scraps of the press from the two poles and the big blows in the state budget had become routine. But the early days of the pandemic sparked a new level of useless hostility between Cuomo and de Blasio. When the federal government downplayed the coronavirus threat and failed to provide resources to the states, Cuomo drew on the 15th Cuomo then denounced. “Fear is more contagious than the virus right now,” he said.
Cuomo says it is wrong to speak of a “shelter-in-place” policy, as people can still go out, even to walk a dog, for many reasons
“If I go out to help with pets, right, I’m not in a room in a post-nuclear holocaust waiting for an all-clear.” Https://t.co/ACLdYl0RqA pic.twitter.com/ FB2R27ZlS9
– CBS News (@CBSNews) March 19, 2020
The back and forth continued throughout the pandemic as tens of thousands of New Yorkers died amid the power games. In April 2020, de Blasio announced that the city schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year, then Cuomo declined his order three hours later as a mere “opinion”. In October 2020, following de Blasio’s order to close schools and non-essential businesses in some areas of Brooklyn and Queens, Cuomo reversed the plan and opted for a less stringent version. “A law doesn’t work if you’re too incompetent or too politically scared to enforce it,” he said. (In the same month, Cuomo published a book entitled “Lessons in Leadership” from the pandemic when his government was reportedly involved in a cover up for deaths in nursing homes.)
The feud also continued with the reopening of New York, with Cuomo de Blasio calling the plan for a return to normal in July 2021 “irresponsible”.
Since December, when several people made allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against Cuomo, the taunts have been largely one-sided, with de Blasio calling Cuomo a “narcissist” and calling on the governor to “get rid of hell”. . “
“Just get out of the way,” said de Blasio on Thursday and urged Cuomo to resign.
“Maybe he could end his career with an act of dignity and decency and just step aside. But don’t bet on it, Andrew. ”Pic.twitter.com/oMmgpCEm1t
– Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) August 5, 2021
But with de Blasio refusing to “rule anything out” – including running a gubernatorial run in 2022 – the feud may not be over by the time the two politicians leave their positions that year. Asked in July if he would consider going into the Democratic primary, de Blasio disagreed: “Dude, I don’t know what to do next.”
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