NYS update: This was one of the better episodes of The Cuomo Show this season. It would be tempting to review this one as just more DeBlasio-bashing, but whatever your opinion of the situation in NYC last night or the Cuomo-DeBlasio feud, the governor is fighting a bigger battle with an actual despot (Trump) right now and has to stake as strong a position as he can. The only thing left to him is public criticism of NYC’s police deployment. Not sure what his alternative message really could have been. What Trump did last night in Washington was basically throwing tear gas into the faces of all of the governors and by extension into all the American people. Cuomo’s explanation of why he cannot just send the National Guard in echoes what CE Ryan McMahon was saying about the Onondaga County zoo a few days ago. Large governments cannot tell smaller governments what to do with their agencies, short of legislation. That’s democracy. All Cuomo can do is use his bully pulpit to criticize and hope that DeBlasio asks for help.
There was some alarm raised by some that Cuomo was “floating” drastic measures here by openly musing about them. I don’t know how he can be accused of doing that, though, when Trump already injected this into the room last night. Sorry, but the specter of this is already in the air. I am perfectly willing to criticize Cuomo for anything and everything, but in my view he was musing on it in order to educate. (He has an imperialistic personality, but he’s not actually bonkers yet.)
“You and what army?” is a question you could always have asked rhetorically when it came to weary political debates. Unfortunately as politics becomes less and less able to produce any clear resolutions, that question becomes less rhetorical. (As of this posting, rumors are flying that Trump may have hired mercenaries to scour the streets of protesters — if true, every single bet is now off.) Cuomo had to have law enforcement on the dais today because Trump forced him to. There are well managed armies and poorly managed ones. We’ve seen what is happening in parts of the nation where both the police and the protesters are poorly led. One hopes that the “armies” of NYC both get their acts together tonight. (Meanwhile: the debate over Section 50-A, which Cuomo says he will reform.)
From his comments, though, it seems that Cuomo hasn’t been informed about the serious incident in Buffalo last night where law enforcement officers were run over by someone out of control. (It seems as if the driver of the car may not have been in a violent frame of mind — she was reportedly returning from a funeral — but she was shot by police anyway.) In some parts of the state, things seem to be stalled or heading backwards. Albany seems to have a problem with violent white instigators, but I’m not sure if Buffalo’s issue is more complicated than black rage that has not yet had its full expression nor a chance to become more organized in peace and power. I wonder if this is the knife edge we walk — in more blue areas, the white bros are taking the initiative for violence and mayhem; while in red areas, the violence may be driven by other elements. But who can put simple classifications on riots?
Unfortunately, the second half of this episode fell short when Cuomo continued to blame his rotten handling of the nursing homes on “a hyperpolitical atmosphere.” For crying out loud — it’s not a “Republican thing” to demand answers about what and why that fiasco happened.
Onondaga County update: I am cautiously hopeful that expressions of unity are really and authentically “black” in the Syracuse area. Last night’s protest marches stayed inside the city, and seemed concentrated on moving through residential neighborhoods where more supporters could be collected and induced to leave their homes to join the flow. Much was made of the spontaneous bit of dancing at the end, but while it might have been fun for all to join in, I am glad that this was mostly black Syracusans celebrating their own victory over the day and not some manufactured “kumbaya” moment. In the towns of Onondaga County, we still have a lot of work ahead and at some point the white protesters who don’t live in the city need to return home to their communities and do this work if this (literal) movement is going to be the new normal.
The county briefing was back to normal today with very little mention of the protests except to commend the smarter protesters for wearing masks and to invite them all to get tested. Mobile testing has started in the burbs (they were in Camillus today) and it seems that the mobile venues are popular because people don’t want to come downtown for various reasons. There were two additional deaths reported for a new total of 141. The infection rates, new positives, hospitalizations and especially community spread numbers continue to look very good. We just may be coming down off that plateau.
We are also getting closer to the critical midpoint of the county fiscal year when the sales taxes come in and we find out if the rest of the year will be extremely, terribly bad, or just very bad. Local officials have begun to sound more and more doubtful that there will be any federal help at all, and you could tell that McMahon is beginning to shift into “it’s Albany’s fault” mode already, pre-emptively. McMahon wants to keep county employees and impose a county energy tax, which Onondaga hasn’t had since the start of the Reagan era. Debate over the tax is going to loom large throughout the month of June. I personally would happily pay more tax — but that’s because I can. Others aren’t in that position. It seems like not the worst idea ever, except there’s no way to scale it.
There was also a lot of sudden optimism from the CE about the University Hill opening for classes in the fall, as SU has been working on their plans to bring the student body back. There will be a lot of testing. Students will be tested coming, going, and randomly. One intriguing detail, which McMahon only hinted at, was that sewage might be tested right down to the dorm level as an early warning system. (Apparently SU’s poop pipes are less tangled than the county’s, and can be more easily traced back to their source.) It was confidently asserted that the Syracuse colleges would be seen as national models for getting college students back on campus. SU is calling it their “Public Health Framework.”