Archive for February 2021

Cuomo reminds us like father, like son – By George J. Marlin

February 22, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, February 22, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

With the nursing home scandal roiling the Cuomo administration, it appears the governor’s management style—stonewalling, trusting no one, being secretive, instilling fear in his senior staff, badgering journalists and public officials—has finally caught up with him.

Why has Andrew Cuomo’s governing style approach been so heavy-handed?

Because he is his father’s son.

To understand Andrew, you must understand the man whose footsteps he followed, Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Outside of his family, Mario Cuomo trusted no one. When the journalist Jimmy Breslin, was asked about the governor’s inner circle, he replied: “There’s not enough people to form a circle.”

Similarly, Andrew only trusted Joe Percoco, the man he referred to in his father’s eulogy as Mario’s “third son.” But with Percoco doing time in a federal prison, there has not been anyone who could say to Andrew “No, that’s a stupid idea.” Instead he’s surrounded by sycophants that say “aye, aye, sir” to every ludicrous command.

Mario Cuomo was secretive. Although he claimed his government was transparent, reporters had a hard time prying information out of the administration.

Ditto Andrew Cuomo. The Empire Center for Public Policy had to sue the governor to obtain the true number of COVID nursing home deaths.

When dealing with the press, Mario insisted on being the principal spokesman for his administration. But he distained them. “Reporters,” he said, “are like epidemics. They follow catastrophes.” Another time, the New York Times reported that Mario said “he is adept at talking to schoolchildren…because he deals with them the same way he does with reporters.” He added, “Only the children get it right.”

Watching Andrew’s daily press conferences during the pandemic, it was obvious to me that Andrew had little regard for journalists and treated them like kindergarteners.

Andrew also adopted Mario’s practice of badgering and threatening journalists and public officials.

Mario Cuomo could be verbally brutal with those who disagreed with him. He was known to call reporters or editors at their homes late at night or very early in the morning to complain about their stories. The Times reported that “the governor has berated writers, accused them of doing the bidding of editorial boards and attacked their ethics.”

On one occasion, Mario threatened Times reporter Jeffrey Schmaltz. “I could end your career,” he said. “Your publisher doesn’t even know who you are.”

On another occasion, the noted Times journalist, Adam Nagourney (then the Daily News Albany bureau chief), had an “intense, at times unpleasant” argument with Cuomo, during which the governor said, “I could destroy you if I wanted.”

Andrew Cuomo is also well-known for threatening perceived enemies. A recent example is the call he made to Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim about the nursing home scandal. Kim alleges that Cuomo yelled at him for 10 minutes and threatened to destroy his political career.

Yes, the paranoid governing style of Mario and Andrew is remarkably similar. Nevertheless, there is one major difference between them which may help explain why Mario left public office with honor and why Andrew may not.

Mario Cuomo’s political model was St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, statesmen and politicians, because he was, in Cuomo’s judgment, a combination of “noble hopes and goals and personal weakness.”

And while Andrew displays in Albany the copy of the Holbein portrait of More that hung in Mario’s office throughout his tenure as governor, Andrew’s political model is a man Thomas More abhorred, Niccolò Machiavelli.

In an essay titled “How a leader’s philosophy directly affects an organization culture,” Peter DeMarco, a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development employee, wrote: “One of Cuomo’s first acts after taking over as secretary of HUD in 1997 was to distribute the book by Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, to his key aides telling them: ‘This is my leadership philosophy.’”

Machiavelli is the man the renowned 20th century political philosopher, Leo Strauss, called “a teacher of evil” because he stooped “to teach maxims of public and private gangsterism.”

Machiavelli’s best-known maxim is “the ends justify the means.” And if Andrew employed that “gangster” precept to rationalize the nursing home cover-up, he will be guilty of licentious conduct, will dishonor his family name and will go down in the annals of New York history as a political blackguard.

Anti-Catholic Conspiracy Theories: Two Hundred Years of Lies and Misinformation – By George J. Marlin

February 18, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Andrew Cuomo — Second Generation Micromanager – By George J. Marlin

February 12, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, February 8, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

Like many New Yorkers who have a parent in a nursing home, I was appalled when I learned about Gov. Cuomo’s March 25, 2020, health care order that directed nursing homes to take in patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Happily, my 93-year-old father survived the crisis and has received the vaccine. But that does not excuse the governor’s behavior and mismanagement.

Instead of reversing the ill-conceived policy early on, admitting it was a mistake and apologizing, the governor, not surprisingly, wouldn’t budge and actually doubled down.

Refusing to take responsibility, he blamed Donald Trump and The Centers for Disease Control for the screw-up. Cuomo also stonewalled. For months, he has withheld releasing to the public the accurate number of nursing home deaths. (On Feb. 2, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a suit filed by the Empire Center for Public Policy and ordered the release of “full coronavirus tolls in N.Y. nursing homes.”)

Anyone familiar with Andrew Cuomo knows that his finger pointing is a ruse. That’s because he is a control freak. He micromanages every nook and cranny of his administration and calls all the shots.

To make sense of the management style of  New York’s 56th governor, one must understand the modus operandi of the man who had the greatest influence on him—the state’s 52nd governor, Mario Cuomo.

Throughout his career, Mario Cuomo was a one-man band. He would work long hours because he needed to have total control over all decisions, even routine ones. As a rule, he would not delegate. Also, outside of his wife and son, Andrew, he trusted very few people. “Even in his present position of eminence,” one associate told the Times, “Mario Cuomo trusts no one completely who isn’t a member of his own family.”

After his election in 1982, the elder Cuomo confirmed this management approach: “I want myself in the center of the wheel and a lot of spokes out to the agencies.” In other words, he would not delegate authority to executive chamber subordinates; he wanted his fingers in every governmental pie. And considering the size of the state government, this approach proved to be disastrous.

By March 1983, The New York Times was reporting that “Cuomo Holds A Tight Rein on Decisions.” Defending his loose chain of command, Cuomo thundered, “No bill will go up, no appointment will be made without crossing my desk … I don’t like having too strong a dependence on anybody.”

On another occasion, after a question was raised about his method of governance, Cuomo said, “Delegate what? I was elected to govern. I wasn’t elected to let other people govern. To the extent that my strength allows me to bring myself to bear, that’s what I ought to do.”

As criticism mounted that his administration was “confused or disorganized” leading to numerous snafus, Mario Cuomo doubled down: “My instructions to [my staff] are, ‘Do not make a policy decision the governor is supposed to make’. If there were any confusion, if there were any ball being dropped, I was the quarterback who dropped the ball.”

And the enforcer of Mario’s dictates was his son, Andrew, known by Albany pols as the “Prince of Darkness” and “Darth Vader.”

One long-time political operator told me: “If Andrew showed up in your office, you knew something was amiss or he would not be there. Andrew was not shy about badgering people verbally, humiliating them, demoting them or dismissing them.”

Well, like father, like son.

Andrew Cuomo’s management style is fundamentally identical to his father’s. The only difference—he is his own enforcer. Cuomo is a micromanager who cracks the whip, brow beats his staff and bullies anyone who gets in his way.

Andrew Cuomo is responsible for the disastrous policy that led to the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents. It is time he fesses up and begs New Yorkers for forgiveness.

Will FDR Be the Next Democrat to Be Expelled From His Party? – By George J. Marlin

February 7, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Thursday, February 4, 2021.