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Cuomo and corruption, Trump and the debate


Governor Andrew Cuomo - FILE PHOTO
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo
You’ve gotta feel sorry for our governor, right?

So many people he relied on, so many people he trusted – so many people he has been close to – have been accused of such terrible things.

Andrew Cuomo gives these folks his trust, his friendship – calls some of them his amigos – and they disappoint him.

Dean Skelos. Sheldon Silver. And now US Attorney Preet Bharara has brought federal charges of bribery, corruption, and fraud against Joseph Percoco, once Cuomo’s executive deputy secretary; Todd R. Howe, an Albany lobbyist who was deputy chief of staff when Cuomo was US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Alain Kaloyeros, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic, a person Cuomo has called New York’s economic-development “secret weapon.”

The three are among nine men facing charges related to Cuomo’s much-touted economic development program for Upstate New York. Bharara says they were involved in schemes to insure that handpicked developers got the contracts for work in programs like the Buffalo Billion.

On the heels of Bharara’s charges, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced felony charges against Kaloyeros and Joseph Nicolla, president of one of the companies receiving the contracts.

“If the allegations are true,” Cuomo said last week as the charges rained down on this latest batch of trusted friends and advisers, “I am saddened and profoundly disappointed.”

I am saddened and profoundly disappointed, too. And disgusted.

And I worry that this could taint our fledgling Photonics Institute. While Rochester is to be the hub of that effort, the Albany-based Kaloyeros muscled his way in from the beginning, seeming to wrest decisions away from the locals we thought would be making them.

Kaloyeros has now been “relieved of his duties” at SUNY Poly. And since the Photonics initiative is a national and state effort, involving a lot more players than Kaloyeros and SUNY Poly, we can hope that the scandal won’t hurt its chances.

But there’s no question that there’s a stench about Cuomo’s entire Upstate economic development program now. And about Cuomo himself.

All this comes at a time when the public’s trust in government and in elected officials is disastrously low. Cuomo entered office promising to clean up corruption in state government. Instead, the corruption has continued, oozing upward toward the top.

New York isn’t the only state to go through this, of course, and it’s no wonder that so many Americans have lost faith in government. Maybe it’s no wonder that so many voters are putting their faith this year in a know-nothing bully with zero experience in government.

Trump’s debate

Mainstream media analysts – even some Republican strategists – all seem to feel that Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in Monday night’s debate. I’m not so sure.

Certainly Clinton’s supporters will think she did. So, presumably, will anybody who thinks substance and facts matter. But Trump’s supporters will think he won. What matters is the reaction from voters who are still undecided, favor a third-party candidate, or are too fed up to vote. That there are so many of those voters is alarming.

At this point, the televised debates should be irrelevant. Donald Trump has said enough and done enough to demonstrate that he is unqualified and temperamentally unsuited to be president.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Rochester-area rally earlier this year. - FILE PHOTO
  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Rochester-area rally earlier this year.
He is a dangerous, bigoted, uninformed person who could wreak havoc on this country’s economy; inflame ethnic and religious hatred; incite violence; end years of careful, diplomacy-based foreign policy; humiliate the country in the eyes of foreign leaders; increase instability in the Middle East; and encourage not only ISIS but also the most dangerous foreign leaders.

That we are six weeks from Election Day and polls show Clinton and Trump in a dead heat is completely disorienting. We have let a bigoted, volatile demagogue become a major-party candidate for president of the United States. On November 8, we may let him loose on the world.

It’s becoming hard to recognize the country I live in.