Is Cuomo Overreacting to Occupy Albany?
October 24th, 2011
So “Occupy Wall Street” finally made its way to Albany–a couple of weeks, or months behind other cities and even foreign countries. It may be a surprise to some but Albany and some surrounding suburbs are a hotbed for progressive activism and yet it still took until last week to get something organized.
It would seem that the late blooming protest might not be of particular concern to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he spends most of his time “in the NYC area with no public schedule,” but according to reports by the Times Union and the NY Post Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressured Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to have protesters arrested. Cuomo is concerned that protests could linger and add momentum to the push to renew the millionaires tax.
Jennings was rumored to be under consideration for a position in the Cuomo administration and at even one point rumored to be a choice for lieutenant governor. Jennings, according to the Times Union directed the police to make arrests but they didn’t. Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who was described by the Post’s Fred Dicker as “leftist-oriented and highly political” (although likely would not be described that way by Albany’s leftists,) reportedly informed Jennings and police officials that he was not interested in using county resources to prosecute peaceful protesters.
So what of it? Well the story made the front page of the Times Union and the Occupy Albany movement suddenly got a bit more legitimate. So why call so much attention to it? Arrests would have likely caused even more of an uproar in the protest-friendly capital. As we have written before team Cuomo has been very quick to mobilize to squash dissent.
One Democratic legislator told me earlier this fall, “We’d love to push the [millionaires] tax. If only Andrew would give us a sign that he wouldn’t cut our heads off if we tried it,” Something tells me Cuomo isn’t looking to give an inch on this issue.
Here is a snippet of an article I wrote about Cuomo back in March:
“Cuomo, who enjoys a 70 percent approval rating, seems quick to scuttle any dissent. For now, he only need rattle his saber to frighten off legislators, who currently have zero political capital, and he has successfully countered the arguments of opposition advocates with editorials in the Post and tongue lashings from Vlasto. Some question, though, whether this can last. They think Cuomo is growing thin skinned and that his “my way or the highway” approach is actually fanning the fires of opposition. Sixteen protesters were arrested at the Capitol late last month, and groups that oppose cuts to education, school aid and services for the poor are stepping up their campaigns and pushing for the governor to keep a tax on the richest New Yorkers, something Cuomo has vowed he will not do.”
Here is an interesting snippet from the Times Union article:
“Inside police circles, there was speculation by some officials that the pressure from the governor’s office to enforce the curfew was about political perception. They noted that some critics had questioned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of a similar protest in lower Manhattan that has become an organized fixture, with medical supplies, food and even donated office space supporting the protesters.”
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