Skip to content

Halcyon Days

March 20, 2015

Everybody has moments of mania.

Take us. It would be easy for us to get worked up about the following passage in a WSJ article today. It’s describes the degree to which FUD violated journalistic standards interacting with the Governor.

“Mr. Dicker’s book was slated to come out before Mr. Shnayerson’s. By September 2012, Mr. Dicker had turned in a partial manuscript that cast the governor in glowing terms, according to a person who worked on the book.

His publisher told him it needed work and advised him to hire a private editor.

The governor “intervened with the publisher to get him an editor, to help negotiate the terms with the editor,” said a person familiar with the governor’s thinking. Mr. Dicker had a falling-out with that private editor, and the project was soon dead, said the person who worked on the book. Mr. Dicker didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A HarperCollins spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Dicker and the publisher had “parted ways.””


Yes, it would be easy for us to enter a state of elevated irritability over this, but we’re not going to do it. Instead, we’re going riff on the need for everyone to come off  their jags in order to see reality. (This sounds poetic and profound, but its really a kind of: “No shit, Sherlock” realization that you’ll get in the end.)

Take the members of the State Assembly. Earlier this week, the Governor and the new Speaker reached an agreement on ethics. At a subsequent media avail, the two men embraced. It was actually a bear hug and given the height disparity between the two men, physics intervened and Cuomo inadvertently lifted Heastie off the ground for a fraction of a second. The image was captured and rather than it being tossed off as a light-hearted thing, some Cuomo haters seized on it. They said Cuomo had shown disrespect to Heastie – that he invaded his personal space and acted in a way that implied “dominance.” There were even some comments with racial undertones. It was said that Cuomo had treated Heastie “like his bitch.”  These comments, however, did not come from Assembly members of color, but from some quite Caucasian members and staffers who, as they were expressing their views, feigned knowledge and understanding of street culture in a way that, if it was ever broadcast for all to see, would have reminded people of Mike Myers and Mini-Me doing their prison skit: “It’s a hard-luck life.”

What we’re trying to say here is that, no, Cuomo did not mean to disrespect Heastie. It wasn’t some creepy sleight or calculated ploy at all. It was just an unscripted moment that actually showed the potential for friendship between the two men. And the point, again, is that Cuomo haters need to back off.

Take the members of the State Senate. The Leader and senior members are worked up right now. They feel like the Governor has played them on ethics. And, of course, he has, but not as egregiously as they are making out, and certainly not in a way that causes them lasting harm if they simply come around and reach a decent agreement. Senators should be able to see that. Normally, pragmatists that they are, they would. But there’s something else going on here. We’re not sure what it is. There’s been this rumor for weeks that PB is zeroing in on the Leader and his family. It’s said that the Leader drove business to his son’s title insurance firm and that this is PB’s next big case. In the Senate, there’s a real tenseness over it. Senators and staff complain bitterly that prosecutors are criminalizing “foot faults” in a tennis match.  Who’s next? Who’s wired? Again, a kind of whiny mania that has them way off their game.

In fact, there’s mania elsewhere, everywhere — education advocates, patient advocates, even the media.  This cycle in Albany is characterized by a high level of mania, but it occurred to us recently that it’s all quite disproportionate to what is actually occurring.

In this regard, let us conclude with this reassuring cosmic reflection: This budget cycle is flush with cash. This budget cycle is incredibly flush with cash. In fact, there’s more money available this year than at any time in the last 30 years. It’s not in Cuomo’s interest to acknowledge this because it makes his job harder, but rather than living during some terrible period, this is actually a very good time. These are halcyon days.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. permalink
    March 20, 2015 1:18 PM

    Shouldn’t you AT LEAST note that I deny the claims in the WSJ, assert they’re false, and point out that the WSJ NEVER contacted me for comment, despite claiming to have done so? This is a slanderous posting by you and I would like to know who wrote it. Fredric Dicker

  2. March 21, 2015 1:42 PM

    Actually, it’s not true that the budget “is incredibly flush with cash.” Yes, the “settlements” windfall is $6b and counting. Apart from adding nearly $850m to reserves, in hopes the feds will accept it in lieu of a much larger sum we owe for past Medicaid over-billings, the governor is planning to spend far too much of the money on “economic development” (read: corporate welfare) and stuff such as “broadband” rather than to fairly urgent transportation infrastructure needs. And he’s not aiming to do it in a particularly transparent or accountable way, either (see comptroller’s critique). But that money is not fungible operating cash — not really a “surplus” but, as the governor himself has said, a “one shot” that shouldn’t be plugged into recurring expenses or tax breaks. Even the Legislature understands that. Windfall aside, structurally speaking, the financial plan actually is NOT particularly “flush” by, say, late 1990s or mid-2000s standards. There are out year gaps, not near record gaps by historical terms, but big enough to discourage anyone from spending like there’s no tomorrow. Think of it this way: if not for repeatedly extended millionaire tax, the budget right now would have a $2 billion deficit. That’s why the governor is still penny-pinching in various ways in ’16 and out years — e.g., by planning to continue deferring pension contributions rather than incurring the relatively small cost of resuming payments of the full required contribution level.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: