BY JAMES HUFNAGEL
Oblivious to the fact that most have “had it up to here” with his failed policies, and as a dress rehearsal for his run for the White House in a couple of years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hit the road this week carrying his “Happy Days are here again, the sky above is clear again” message across the state in the guise of a series of State of the State speeches to his faithful followers.
Our request for tickets to Cuomo’s event at UB’s North Campus earlier this week surprisingly went unfulfilled, therefore we had to utilize a transcript of his speech, given on Monday, for the purposes of analysis.
According to the US Constitution, the President of the United States “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union,” but for our first 100 years, from Jefferson to Woodrow Wilson, that “information” was in the form of a brief letter from the president to Congress, and it wasn’t even called the “State of the Union” speech until 1934. With the advent of radio, then TV, the speech evolved into the spectacle it now is. Then, others wanted to get into the act.
We’re referring to the profusion of “State of the State” and even “State of the City” (American Samoa’s governor actually does a “State of the Territory”) speeches that are now routine, where the chief executive of even the tiniest and most insignificant governmental subdivision gets to blow their own horn in front of a disinterested crowd of relatives, supporters, political minions and civil service and other government employees who, for the most part, would rather be somewhere else.
If you think we’re kidding about Cuomo’s ambitions for the presidency, read the following quote from Monday’s speech:
“Now, we know one thing we have to do. We have to continue to focus on the economy, and we especially have to focus on the economy for the middle class and working class. They have been especially hard-hit; not just in Buffalo, but all across this country…” and with regards to his new free college tuition program, “Every child’s future will be open. Hope for everyone – and that’s what this country is supposed to be all about.”
Not “state”, “country”.
But since “country” has been brought up, it’s appropriate to examine another Cuomo assertion from his State of the State address: “It really has been an extraordinary six years in terms of progress, especially when you compare it to the preceding decades of stagnation (Sorry, Dad). Statewide, the unemployment went from 8.4 percent to 5.1 today.”
The national unemployment rate six years ago (January, 2011), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 9.1%. Today, it is 4.7%. That’s a decrease of 48%.
The decrease in state unemployment, as brayed by Cuomo, from 8.4% to 5.1%, represents a reduction of only 39%.
Most of the decrease in New York State unemployment numbers under Cuomo, therefore, simply mirrored the national trend. Worse, it lagged the national trend.
Then there was “What is the State of the State? It is, well, stronger than it has been in decades… New York has made remarkable economic and social progress. Not since the time of FDR and Robert Moses (has it been this awesome),” politically tone deaf to local opinion on Moses, creator and namesake of the Lewiston, NY-based Power Project that ships the bulk of its hydroelectricity out of the region to New York City, New England and Canada, and of the infamous Robert Moses Parkway, which has strangled the city of Niagara Falls off from its waterfront for over 50 years.
We could take up the rest of this newspaper issue with descriptions of Gov. Cuomo’s embellishments, misrepresentations, unfounded assertions and his generally condescending demeanor, but what did he have to say, specifically, about Niagara Falls?
Towards the very end of his 5000+ word speech: “We’ll acquire underutilized property in downtown Niagara Falls so we can free up that land that has been locked up for too long and actually have productive commercial activity developed on it that capitalizes on the growth,” said Gov. Cuomo.
So, it looks good for the state to buy up the 140 acres of Milstein’s property and construct parking lots which will replace the Goat Island and Prospect Point parking lots, restoring Niagara Falls State Park to the Olmsted vision and assuring that the eight million tourists who visit here every year have to park downtown, where they will patronize local restaurants and shops. Lol.
“On Goat Island we will create a year-round destination for tourism and build a world-class lodge with sweeping views of the Niagara River,” he also proclaimed, which flies in the face of “New hotels in Niagara Falls – who would have believed?”, given that any new “lodge” on Goat Island, besides being yet another egregious violation of the Olmsted plan, will be in direct competition with those hotels.
A couple of years ago it was announced that the old Parks Police barracks on Goat Island might be converted into lodging. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out who’s going to be running it.
On September 10, 2014, the day after his victory in the Democratic primary, Governor Cuomo was honored at a fundraising event at Delaware North owner Jeremy Jacobs’ opulent East Aurora estate.
Tickets went for $25,000 per couple.