As an official in the Executive Branch of the government all my adult life, in law enforcement and the Marines, I did my best to remain apolitical and my longevity proves I did that pretty well in both branches of public service.
Another thing that helped with my neutrality was having a Republican father and a Democrat mother. Later in adult life I realized my exposure to this yin and yang relationship gave me a better grasp of two opposing sides of any issue. This proved quite helpful by considering other’s point of view before making professional decisions.
When it comes to politics and politicians, especially at the local level it is almost always about the person, not the party; who is best suited and best qualified being more important than the elephant or the donkey. However, at the state level of politics things are much different, particularly when our state has the 800 pound gorilla in the room whose name is New York City. By blindly voting the party line, on either side, can be detrimental to your wellbeing.
Later this year our state will choose a governor to lead our state. Presently there are a few in the race, but astute political junkies see the 2018 gubernatorial race between our current governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Dutchess County Executive, Marc Molinaro. This matchup will take place in November after Cuomo gets the bejesus scared out of him in a September primary with actress Cynthia Nixon.
Considering all the above, I’m quite comfortable asking all of my Democrat friends and relatives; why would you even consider voting for Andrew Cuomo? Particularly after all he has done to rural Central New York.
Before you answer, let me remind you that our governor was first elected in 2010, taking office in January 2011. Before the year was over preparations were made to close nearby Camp Pharsalia and Camp Georgetown, taking away hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of payroll from our local economy.
In 2012 he teased the Southern Tier with talk of lifting the ban on hydraulic fracturing which would allow drilling for natural gas in our area. With just the rumor of tapping this energy source, new jobs popped up for surveyors, geologists and even 4X4 truck sales increased. Farmers and landowners struggling to pay taxes saw not only a light at the end of the tunnel, but even prosperity ahead. It was going to be a high tide that would lift all boats.
Also in 2012 one of his top executive goals was the reduction in public employee benefits. All state employees had time furloughed; something called paycheck “lag”. The state employee retirement tiers were then rearranged like deck chairs on the Titanic.
Never one to miss a legislative opportunity, in January 2013, because of “emergency necessity” the SAFE ACT passed. This knee jerk legislation passed so quickly, with so little forethought or even a hint of review that once enacted every police officer in our state was a felon for carrying more than seven bullets. Every cop committed a felony again if they had to enter a school building – even on duty. Even after several revisions, the SAFE ACT still has little support in rural Upstate New York. Even our county legislature is on record as opposing this travesty disguised as law. The passage of this non-friendly firearms law caused at least one Upstate firearms manufacturer, Kahr Arms, to move out-of-state. The grand-daddy of all firearms, Remington, headquartered in nearby Ilion, decided to invest millions in a new factory in Alabama.
Let me remind my conservative friends about the time in 2014 the governor said if conservatives didn’t agree with his agenda “they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are”. That certainly sounded like an invitation to leave.
During the 2015 State of the State Address, the governor promised high-speed broadband internet access for the rural areas of Upstate to encourage economic development, education and job growth. None of which has happened. What did happen was a collection of new wage and labor laws that continued to hurt small business, and all business, by finding new ways to pay people not to work.
The new minimum wage laws did create some new jobs Upstate. One industry that grew exponentially was those who install kiosks in fast food restaurants. Starting in western New York and moving eastward, every McDonald’s will have an enhanced service kiosk for customers. McDonald’s gave many reasons and advantages why they are doing this. One is “the rising costs of unskilled human labor’.
During our governor’s time in office more than a million residents have left, some say fled, upstate New York. They may say they are going south for better weather, but our state being one of the highest taxed and least business friendly must play a part in the migration. A close friend, who is a Democrat, said a vote for Cuomo can’t be justified. “It’s time for a change; we have indulged this man long enough”. Each Thursday I often receive comments about my previous day’s column, so if we should cross paths, I encourage you to challenge me with a good argument to vote for the “status quo-mo”.