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De Blasio's Scathing Criticism of Cuomo Gets Mixed Support

By Jeff Mays | July 2, 2015 9:16am
 Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press conference to discuss Brooklyn hospitals on Jan. 27, 2014. The response to de Blasio's scathing comments about Cuomo's commitment to the city and the issues that affect it have been mixed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press conference to discuss Brooklyn hospitals on Jan. 27, 2014. The response to de Blasio's scathing comments about Cuomo's commitment to the city and the issues that affect it have been mixed.
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Mayors Office

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio unleashed a blistering attack on Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week — accusing him of working from a place of revenge to sabotage the city's political agenda in Albany.

In the wake of the firestorm, some city politicians have been reluctant to adopt de Blasio's scathing rhetoric — while others wholeheartedly welcomed the mayor's comments.

Two of de Blasio's strongest allies, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James both declined to criticize Cuomo.

"Government is a collaborative process, and in the best interest of New York City, collaboration is needed," Mark-Viverito said at a Wednesday press conference.

Asked to comment more specifically about the mayor's comments, Mark-Viverito said: "I'll let you guys play the pundit."

James said she wasn't taking sides between Cuomo and de Blasio and that the focus should be on issues.

But Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said de Blasio had no choice but to fire back at Cuomo.

"The frustration you saw from the mayor was about the need for a Democrat governor who will ensure the most dense Democrat population in the state — the five boroughs — receives their fair share," said Adams. "The governor is not doing that."

Following a less-than-successful Albany legislative session where many of de Blasio's stated policy goals fell short, the mayor — who delayed commenting on the issue for days — issued his critique of what happened in Albany during a sit-down with City Hall reporters.

His conclusion: Cuomo had sabotaged his efforts to deal with critical city issues such as rent regulation, mayoral control of the schools and the 421-a tax break for developers.

"Again, I want to emphasize — there is a kind of deal-making and horse-trading that he engages in that I think often obscures the truth," de Blasio said about Cuomo. "It gets so convoluted I'm not sure even the people around him begin to remember where they began."

The mayor received only a one-year extension of mayoral control of city schools, which pales in comparison to the six- and seven-year terms former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was granted. De Blasio had asked for it to be made permanent.

None of de Blasio's reforms to overhaul the 421-a tax break were approved. Instead, the program was extended for six months while interested parties negotiate.

"In the case of mayoral control, he did not act with New York City's interests at heart, and certainly not the interests of our schoolchildren and their families," de Blasio said about Cuomo.

"On 421-a, he did not act in the interest of people who need affordable housing in this city, which is a huge percentage of the people in this city," the mayor continued.

Cuomo said de Blasio's proposal on 421-a would not work but never introduced a plan of his own.

In an interview with NY1 Wednesday, Cuomo did not respond to de Blasio's comments.

"You know what, I've known Bill, the mayor, a long time. I consider him a friend. He says what he says, I say what I say, and I'll let him speak for himself," Cuomo said.

The comments came after Cuomo's spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa issued a statement on Tuesday in response to de Blasio's comments implying that the mayor didn't understand how things get done in Albany.

"For those new to the process, it takes coalition-building and compromise to get things done in government. We wish the mayor well on his vacation," DeRosa said.

De Blasio left town with his family for an eight-day vacation in the Southwest and West shortly after making his comments.

In the mayor's absence, some of his other allies were not afraid to strike at Cuomo.

Working Families Party state Director Bill Lipton gave a blunt characterization of the governor's politics. The party has long been upset with Cuomo's more centrist political leanings.

"To Cuomo, politics is a bloodsport. Winning is about pleasing donors and inflicting damage on political rivals," said Lipton. "Unless there's an upside for Cuomo, New York’s working families basically don't matter."

De Blasio's office feels confident that the mayor took the right steps.

“Mayor de Blasio spoke out to set the record straight that Albany and the Governor have been standing in the way of programs and politics that most people believe are important for New Yorkers," said a spokesperson from the administration.

Evan Thies, a political consultant and president of Brooklyn Strategies, said no one should be surprised at the politicking coming from both sides.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that Gov. Cuomo was waging a political fight during the session in Albany. That's politics and politics can lead to compromise as easily as it leads to obstruction," Thies said.

"What's particularly frustrating New Yorkers about what happened this month is that leaders from the same party, with the same base, were trying to outdo one another when there were clear areas of compromise on which both could have settled on very early in the session and both claim victory."