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New Leaf-ism

January 16, 2015

There’s been a spate of stories about personnel moves in the Governor’s office. The stories suggest a new kinder, gentler approach by the Cuomo administration.

The people joining the team have good reputations. They are smart and experienced, and they are regarded as being both professional and courteous.

The personal style of these new senior staffers is being contrasted with that of the old staffers, one of whom was likened to a “Machiavellian hatchet man.” Such a characterization is harsh, but nobody in Albany disputes it. Nobody is saying that Cuomo’s people were nice. Just the opposite.

The focus on the individual staffers, however, obscures a matter, which is this: The tone of any administration is set from the top. It’s simply not possible that staffers working for command-and-control Cuomo could ever do anything he didn’t direct right down to the minutiae. That includes the style with which they comport themselves.

So what are we all to make of the personnel moves? Has Cuomo turned over a new leaf? Is he endeavoring to become more open and accessible? Is he looking to encourage a robust public dialogue that leads to consensus?  Is it possible that the death of his father made him a more reflective,  sensitive and caring person endeavoring to do right?

No. He hasn’t changed. Instead, he sees utility in having people with a reputation for civility. What’s the utility in civility? He can use these people. He did that recently with Jim Malatras, who has always been a thoughtful consensus-builder type. But there was Malatras’ name on a screed letter that declared war on the education community. It’s a safe bet the letter wasn’t Malatras’ idea.

Behind the scenes, similarly combative efforts are underway. Think about the PEF situation.

In fact, the Governor, rather than turning over a new leaf, seems to have made it his resolution to blow up certain sectors.

Now a close read of the preceding paragraphs will reveal a level of detachment on our part. We’re not judging him – not just yet. As we’ve often noted to the consternation of some long-time readers, the Governor’s off-putting ways can actually be quite effective. In this regard, the whole notion of electing a nice man whom you want to have beer with gives you George Bush.

What we’re doing in this post is simply trying to correct what we regard as happy talk-new leafism in recent coverage. That’s not happening with Cuomo, and that’s our main point.

Our secondary point is that a new leaf might have been turned by Attorney General Schneiderman. He has started the new year with a burst of energy, activism and appearances.  Go to his website and look at the array of initiatives, like the data breach case, he announced recently. A top campaign op we know said cryptically to us that it’s like Schneiderman knows something (about Moreland or the presidential cycle or 2018) and has begun his move.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Charles Waggoner permalink
    January 16, 2015 1:10 PM

    Hi, I’ve been thinking about the PEF situation. You thinking anything specific?



  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 17, 2015 8:35 PM

    Like the commenter above, I wish you would be more specific. The post is much too cryptic and too focused on personality and tactics at the expense of substance.

    It would be much more interesting to read, for example, that, while Bill Mulrow might be Prince Charming, over the years he has had close ties to a number of special interests that figure in many state deals. Those include the building trade unions (especially the Carpenters), horse racing, and casino gaming. Also, in our experience, he can be quite forceful and insistent when he needs to be. AC does not have to school him.

    So whatever the two of them are cooking up will be interesting.

    Why don’t you just tell us what you think it is?

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