Saturday, March 6, 2021

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Under Fire

That smell you detect coming from the East Coast is the unwrapping of Governor Cuomo's diaper. As long as he was a marshal of the "Resistance" against Trump I think that some people were willing to overlook Cuomo's dominant and domineering personality and infamous rivalries and feuds with other elected Democrats. 

But now that Trump is gone perhaps folks are okay with taking a closer look at some of Cuomo's behavior. You may have heard that Governor Cuomo has been accused of inappropriate behavior and/or sexual harassment by three women. Two of the women worked for Cuomo. FWIW I believe those women. Their stories do not rise to the "Give me some or you're fired!" level of harassment but the allegations, if true, demonstrate that the Governor has at best poor judgment. The third woman did not work for the Governor, but accused him of trying to hit on her at a wedding. I think the third story is weak sauce. 
Men and women do flirt with each other and make moves on each other at weddings---and other places at well. I don't think we should or can criminalize or stigmatize most of this behavior when it occurs out of the workplace. It's part of life. Sometimes people say no. Other times they say yes. There is a huge difference between a boss talking to a subordinate about what he or she likes romantically/sexually and someone using the exact same lines with a stranger at a bar, wedding, or other social environment. 
I think the more serious and indeed possibly criminal allegations are that the Cuomo Administration prevented nursing homes from turning away residents who had been treated for or exposed to COVID-19 and then lied to the press, the public, state health officials, and the Trump Administration about the resulting number of deaths in nursing homes.
Top aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were alarmed: A report written by state health officials had just landed, and it included a count of how many nursing home residents in New York had died in the pandemic. The number — more than 9,000 by that point in June — was not public, and the governor’s most senior aides wanted to keep it that way. They rewrote the report to take it out, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The extraordinary intervention, which came just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, was the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a months long effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths. After the state attorney general revealed earlier this year that thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted, Mr. Cuomo finally released the complete data, saying he had withheld it out of concern that the Trump administration might pursue a politically motivated inquiry into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes. 
But Mr. Cuomo and his aides actually began concealing the numbers months earlier, as his aides were battling their own top health officials, and well before requests for data arrived from federal authorities, according to documents and interviews with six people with direct knowledge of the discussions, who requested anonymity to describe the closed-door debates. 
The central role played by the governor’s top aides reflected the lengths to which Mr. Cuomo has gone in the middle of a deadly pandemic to control data, brush aside public health expertise and bolster his position as a national leader in the fight against the coronavirus. 
But by late spring, Republicans were suggesting that the order had caused a deadly spread of the virus in nursing homes. Mr. Cuomo disputed that it had. Still, critics and others seized on the way the state was publicly reporting deaths: Unlike other states, New York excluded residents who had been transferred to hospitals and died there, effectively cloaking how many nursing home residents had died of Covid-19. 
Health officials felt the governor’s office, whose opinion was conveyed by Mr. Malatras, wanted to simplify too much. They worried it was no longer a true scientific report, but feared for their jobs if they did not go along.
Even so, an edited version prepared by Mr. Malatras did not remove the higher death toll. That occurred later, after Ms. DeRosa and Ms. Lacewell became aware of its inclusion. It was taken out soon after.
There is nothing wrong with ambition, even great ambition. Most politicians almost by definition have that trait. There is however something wrong with being unable to admit that you were wrong, forcing people to lie for you, or preventing other people from ringing alarm bells. 
What Cuomo and his team allegedly did is not that different from auto companies who knowingly sell vehicles with defective transmissions, leaky fuel tanks, or fragile tires and justify not alerting federal regulators or the public by claiming the resulting blowback will just hurt more people. It's also a reminder that most of us, when faced with the choice of standing up for what's right (and losing our job) or keeping quiet about wrong doing (and keeping our job) will do what it takes to keep our job. This is not just a trait exhibited by Trumpsters and Republicans. If your primary goal as a public servant during a pandemic is to make yourself look good, you need to find another job.
blog comments powered by Disqus