Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1477 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:46:53 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5822:cuomo-waves-left-with-executive-actions-is-met-with-shrugs http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5822:cuomo-waves-left-with-executive-actions-is-met-with-shrugs Cuomo wage rally

Cuomo at Wednesday's rally (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


On Wednesday, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo streamed live video of the wage board he convened as its members recommended a multi-year plan to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers across the state. As the meeting ended the same stream cut to a jubilant rally in New York City. In stark contrast to previous Cuomo administration efforts there was no pretense that the wage board was somehow separate from the governor.

The Cuomo administration attempted to propagate the appearance of independence for previous executive entities such as the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, two tax commissions, and even the Department of Environmental Conservation when it made its decision to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. But this time such a separation wasn't useful to the governor.

With his poll numbers at an all-time-low, members of his own party in open revolt and facing an ongoing feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo appears to be looking to bolster his standing among Democrats across the state by taking executive action on issues he failed to deliver on during the legislative session. Many prominent Democratic electeds and activists have questioned whether Cuomo actually expended any political capital during the legislative session to move progressive issues such as criminal justice reform, the DREAM Act, or a minimum wage increase.

"I don't believe the Assembly had a real working partner in the governor or the Senate in terms of getting things done for the people of this city and, in many cases, the people of this state," Mayor Bill de Blasio told NY1 late last month.

Trust among Democrats was further eroded when Senate Republicans released a memorandum of understanding with Cuomo's office that appeared to state that the governor agreed not to phase in a part of the SAFE Act until Republicans agree to it. Other than that MOU, Cuomo's post-session agenda has been dedicated to taking executive action on issues favored by the left and on which he did not deliver through legislation.

Cuomo has promised to use executive action to remove 16- and 17-year-olds from the state's prison system after failing to enact a sweeping policy to prevent those teens from being tried as adults, much less locked up with them. Failing to reach a deal with the legislature on other criminal justice reforms in the wake of death of Eric Garner, Cuomo signed an executive order earlier this month giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the authority to investigate police killings of unarmed individuals, an attempt to reduce the perception that local district attorneys are biased toward the police.

Cuomo was celebrated by Democrats when signing the special prosecutor executive order, and he was applauded at Wednesday's minimum wage rally. City Comptroller Scott Stringer heaped praise on the governor as a man of action when he spoke to those gathered. But, many of Cuomo's fellow Democratic electeds and progressive advocates were not so committed to attaching the governor's name to the wage board decision. Three of the state's most powerful Democratic electeds - Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie - all released statements praising the decision, but without any mention of the governor.

Celebratory statements from New York Communities for Change and the Working Families Party also failed to mention the governor by name.

"I think that's appropriate," said former Cuomo opponent Zephyr Teachout of the lack of support from other Democratic electeds. Teachout is the Fordham Law professor who embarrassed Cuomo with a stronger-than-expected showing during last year's Democratic primary. Teachout tapped into displeasure with the governor from his left.

Cuomo defended his use of executive actions during a Wednesday appearance on The Capitol Pressroom radio program, and chose to eliminate any perception that he was separate from the wage board.

"I am the executive, I have many powers beyond those which the Legislature passes, right?" Cuomo told host Susan Arbetter rhetorically. "The executive, whether it's the president, the mayor, or the governor, you run the government, and you have a whole host of powers that are apart and aside from the Legislature. I often say to people [that] dealing with the Legislature and getting a budget passed, and then new laws, that's a part of my job. But that's only a part. And by the way, I don't even think that's the majority of my job. I run the government."

Teachout doesn't think Cuomo's problem lies exclusively with Democrats. "The governor has broad temperamental issues," Teachout told Gotham Gazette. "It's not like Cuomo has a problem with [only] the left. You are going to have a problem finding any group of voters who believe the governor is actually committed to fighting for them."

Cuomo has branded himself as a doer, as an executive who is about making sure the government is running efficiently and effectively, and who can get deals made by working with members of both parties.

Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group said that Cuomo's use of executive action is fairly typical for governors who have served more than one term. "In terms of putting it into context, governors have historically faced challenges in their second terms. Second terms tend to be harder. [Republican Governor George] Pataki had serious trouble in his second term. It wasn't just with Democrats, but with his own party challenging him."

Horner said that Cuomo is also dealing with "eroded approval ratings and unprecedented indictments" of state legislative leaders that have made getting what he wants from the Legislature that more difficult. And Horner said Cuomo is particularly notorious for "liking to put points on the board."

Many Democrats are happy Cuomo has used his executive powers on the issues he has but feel he acted out of political expediency so that he didn't have to place his Senate Republican allies in a difficult position during the legislative session. These Democrats are therefore reluctant to give him credit.

On the other hand, many business groups and Republican electeds are more than happy to connect Cuomo to his left-leaning executive actions, because they are opposed to them. "From day one Governor Cuomo's wage board has sought to silence the business community and force through an unfair and discriminatory increase on a single sector of one industry," said Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association, in a statement. Fleischut went on to accuse Cuomo of "stacking the board" with supporters of a wage increase, and allowing business owners "to get booed and heckled at public hearings."

Other business groups have attacked Cuomo for bypassing the Legislature on the wage issue, saying he has too much executive power. It may be surprising, but Teachout agrees to some extent. "The governor of New York has too much executive power and the 'three men in a room' have too much power," Teachout told Gotham Gazette. "Having said that, I'm happy he's using it for positive ends. But you know with this governor that if he has to move, he is always going to act in a way that maximizes his own power."

Cuomo is likely to face a lawsuit from the restaurant industry over the wage board's recommendations and subsequent adoption by the Department of Labor.

Regardless of his executive actions, pundits say Cuomo has to do something about his sinking poll numbers in New York City, which has been a reliable base for Cuomo in past elections. A June 15 Siena College poll found Cuomo's favorability rating drop to 39 percent, with his numbers dipping among city-based voters.

Horner said that executive actions are simply part of Cuomo's efforts to enact his agenda and that part of his agenda has to be "keeping the coalition together."

Teachout thinks Cuomo's executive actions indicate that he knows he faces an increasingly hostile electorate. "He is losing that default New York City vote that he could count on last time, and that's a big, big deal. When all you have left is the Buffalo base, that's a real problem. I don't think the wage board does much to help that."

Teachout - who has not ruled out challenging Cuomo again in 2018 (assuming he seeks a third term) - said that she believes voters have developed a view of Cuomo similar to the one that de Blasio expressed: a transactional politician, cynical, power-obsessed, and untrustworthy; and not much is going to change that.

A key question is how much workers, activists, and elected officials associate Cuomo with the action he is taking. Will the special prosecutor move endear Cuomo in communities distrustful of the police and district attorney offices? Will his move on the minimum wage earn him the loyalty of those low-wage and union workers? Are the progressive activists who have been burned by Cuomo willing to live with a governor who they don't feel they can trust but sometimes delivers for their causes?

"I compare this moment to the fracking moment," said Teachout. "I think the administration thought the fracking ban would have an equal impact to the marriage equality moment--that it would be this inspirational moment for people to rally around the governor. But I think most people saw it the same way I did: 'Great! He banned fracking.' But with no change in how they see him."

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
@DavidHowardKing

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Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs Thu, 23 Jul 2015 03:37:14 +0000
Black, Hispanic & Asian Caucus Faces Growing Pains, Tense Relationship with Cuomo http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5817:black-hispanic-a-asian-caucus-faces-growing-pains-tense-relationship-with-cuomo http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5817:black-hispanic-a-asian-caucus-faces-growing-pains-tense-relationship-with-cuomo Cuomo Schneiderman presser

At the special prosecutor announcement (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


Gov. Andrew Cuomo was beaming. Touting the historical significance of the executive order he had just signed to give Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the authority to act as a special prosecutor in cases where police kill unarmed civilians, Cuomo smiled for photos. Often rivals, Cuomo and Schneiderman, who are both white, sat smiling at the July 7 press conference. They were surrounded first by a group of mothers who had lost their black and Hispanic sons to police violence, then by a group of legislators, all people of color. The cameras snapped and then the smiles faded.

It was indeed momentous, real movement after years of work by advocates and legislators pushing for a special prosecutor to investigate such police shootings. But, the order by the governor, aimed at what he called a "crisis of confidence in the criminal justice system," does not wipe away another trust divide. Despite support for and appreciation of the special prosecutor mandate, Cuomo himself faces a crisis of trust from many members of the state legislature's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.

Many advocates and legislators say it was a gargantuan effort to keep up enough pressure to make it politically impossible for Cuomo not to sign the order after there was no legislative deal before lawmakers ended their spring session in Albany. Just the day before the order-signing, victims' families had met with Cuomo to express concerns that the order would not go far enough.

While many give intense gratitude to Cuomo for taking the action, they also resent that it took so much time and energy to get him there when the issue has been such a prominent one for years.

Members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus - 33 in the 150-member Assembly and 14 in the 63-member Senate - have experienced a roller coaster ride for the past five years since Cuomo came into office.

It goes something like this: the governor announces that he shares some of their major priorities in his State of the State speech, they move to back him, and then they watch as their top agenda items are thrown out of the budget when a deal is reached. They build up hope again after the budget is passed, seeking inclusion of the same issues in the typical end-of-session "Big Ugly" deal. They rally, publicly express certainty that Cuomo will deliver for them, that he is in fact on their side and the side of their constituents, all while privately wondering if he is only paying them lip service when he says he continues to be committed to their issues.

And then the session ends.

No DREAM Act, no college for inmates, no reduced punishment for possession of small amounts of marijuana. And this year no legislative action on either criminal justice reform efforts sparked by the rash of police killings of unarmed civilians or the governor's own 'Raise the Age' proposal. While Cuomo has promised executive action removing them from adult prisons, New York remains one of just two states that tries 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

There was heightened internal tension in the caucus this year as the new and old guards struggled to direct the group. Younger members are pushing for more forceful action on issues important to their communities while veteran members urge caution and warn that major bills in Albany can take a lot of time.

"We need continued pressure on these issues from the caucus and the governor because communities of color cannot feel their issues are second because they are harder to achieve," said Bronx Assembly Member Michael Blake, a freshman legislator and veteran of the Obama Administration.

Brooklyn Assembly Member Nick Perry became caucus chair this year and has served for over 20 years as a state legislator. He acknowledges he is in a particularly tough position after the results of this year's legislative session. Perry's rival for the position, vacated when Karim Camara resigned to take a job in Cuomo's administration, Walter Mosley, was thought to be the choice of the younger members of the caucus but his candidacy collapsed after he took a controversial position on a bill dealing with the East Ramapo School District.

"We had a number of enthusiastic, young freshmen who wanted to bring home their bills but they met with the frustration that is Albany," Perry told Gotham Gazette. "They had a rude awakening," he added, saying that frustration is something he has gotten used to after spending so much time in the state legislature. Perry said that he hopes to marshall the caucus to focus on what is achievable. "We have so many votes that we can achieve so much if we work together. You have to realize you aren't going to win every time and we must pool our efforts into what is possible."

Bronx Sen. Gustavo Rivera agrees with Perry. "I think as a caucus we are not as effective as we should be considering our numbers but I am committed to working with them to enact a progressive agenda," Rivera said.

Despite having been in the Senate for five years, this was the first year Rivera really felt like he was in the minority, he says, as he was unable to impact some of the most important issues facing his community. "This is the first time I really felt it," said Rivera, who added that the caucus will be in control of its destiny if Democrats take control of the Senate in the 2016 elections.

It's a sentiment shared by Perry, who said he expects most of the caucus' agenda will have to wait until 2017, indicating he hopes the presidential election will attract a surge of Democratic voters. "I would bet that the presidential year will bring a wave of working class voters much larger than last year and that the seats Republicans hold narrowly will become Democratic," said Perry.

Perry sees 2016 as intensely difficult for the caucus' issues because of the pressure Republicans will feel to keep their seats.

"We have to realize on issues like the DREAM Act that if some of these Republicans go against the grain they will eventually get blown away," said Perry. "We have to be realistic about the political realities Republicans face in their districts and it is our duty to convince them that there is enough support across the state."

Blake, however, is not content to wait until 2017 on issues of criminal justice reform, or a minimum wage increase. "For me this is not about waiting for 2017," Blake told Gotham Gazette. "Communities of color are not interested in waiting for the next presidential election to move on these issues. Kalief Browder was my constituent. Kalief Browder's parents don't want to hear that we couldn't do 'raise the age' because we don't have the Senate Majority. They are thinking he is dead because we didn't have 'raise the age.'"

Caucus members want to see Cuomo go to bat for their issues with the conviction he's shown in previous legislative victories, but they are conflicted about how much public pressure to put on him. Most members agree that it was their constituencies that delivered for Cuomo during last year's election and that Cuomo needs to be mindful to actually deliver for those voters and not get completely distracted by the upstate economy.

"The problem we have is that at the the end of session what is on the table for black and Latino voters simply hasn't been enough," said Perry. "We were there for the governor during his elections. Something like 77 percent of black voters supported the governor so it is fair for us to expect him to be with us on our issues."

This year discontent with Cuomo among Democrats has exploded into the open as many city legislators feel he failed to go to bat on city issues and in some cases decided to ally with Senate Republicans and wealthy campaign donors over Democratic interests. Cuomo ran on delivering The DREAM Act, an increased minimum wage, campaign finance reform, and the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (or GENDA), but none of those issues ever appeared to be seriously in play in the post-budget session.

Instead Cuomo put his real political muscle into controversial school reforms, the equally controversial education tax credit, and to a lesser extent, 'Raise the Age.' Cuomo also took executive action toward increasing the minimum wage for fast food workers by convening the state wage board and resolved to manage compromises over rent regulations and mayoral control of city schools.

A number of caucus members told Gotham Gazette on the condition of anonymity that they simply no longer believe any of Cuomo's promises and they expect the only way they can hope for him to deliver on their issues is to make it politically impossible for him not to. "Yeah, he got off his ass on the special prosecutor but it's because we dragged him there kicking and screaming," said one caucus member. They are well aware that Cuomo is being attacked by district attorneys and police organizations for signing the order and many of them are concerned he may do away with it if it begins to impact him politically.

Perry said he is certain that Cuomo acted on the special prosecutor order because it is something he fully believes in but he was miffed that Cuomo didn't act sooner. "The special prosecutor was an extremely important move and I believe there is no turning back now - we will have legislation on it next year. The only thing that I don't understand is why the governor didn't do it much earlier. He supported it when we talked about these issues even before he was governor. So, I think when he took this action, it was something he truly believed in."

Adding to the frustration was the departure of Camara as caucus chair. The former Assembly member joined the Cuomo administration to head the newly-created Office of Faith-Based Community Development.

As was made clear by that appointment, Camara has had an extremely close relationship with the administration, was known to stay in contact with the governor and to often be polled by administration representatives before the executive branch took action. Now many members say they've never actually heard from the governor except perhaps in passing at an event.

"This was clearly a transition year for the caucus," said Rivera. "We had a lot of new members who need to adjust to the reality of Albany and we had Karim step off and a new Assembly Speaker added to the reality of us not being in majority [in the Senate]."

It is important to note that the new Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, is a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus and the first person of color to lead the chamber.

Although the dance between the Cuomo administration and the caucus has become a familiar one the situation is particularly nettlesome after Mayor Bill de Blasio openly lambasted Cuomo's transactional style of politics and what he actually delivered for the city this year. "I don't believe the Assembly had a real working partner in the governor or the Senate in terms of getting things done for the people of this city and in many cases the people of this state," de Blasio told reporters on June 30.

"The governor has developed a relationship with Senate Republicans that could be beneficial to the Democratic agenda," said new caucus head Perry, who represents part of Brooklyn. "So I plan on working with him rather than attacking him for the relationship, as some have."

Sen. Rivera said he is thankful that the governor issued his executive order regarding police killings but he plans to keep up the pressure. "I congratulate the governor on taking such a bold step but we need it in statute and to extend it to all police misconduct. I've been carrying a bill that would do that for the past five years but it hasn't seen the light of day in the Senate."

Assembly Member Blake said he is committed to working to educate Senate Republicans on major caucus issues - especially criminal justice reform - but he said more pressure to act has to be applied on Cuomo.

"We've seen in the history of the civil rights movement that sometimes it takes someone willing to risk their political career to enact important change," said Blake.

When asked if he was discouraged or caught off guard by the political gridlock in Albany, he laughed. "No," he said. "The reality is we made changes, we didn't get everything but this was not a rude awakening. I was at the White House when we were fighting for health care, when we were dealing with the 'death panel' nonsense. One thing I remember was the president talking to David Axelrod and Rahm [Emanuel] and telling them 'if it means me being a one-term president to do the right thing, then so be it, I'm committed to that.'"

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
@DavidHowardKing

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Black, Hispanic & Asian Caucus Faces Growing Pains, Tense Relationship with Cuomo Mon, 20 Jul 2015 18:04:50 +0000
Cuomo's Executive Action on 'Raise the Age' Prompts Questions http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5797:cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5797:cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions Cuomo Brooklyn February

Cuomo at a February event in Brooklyn (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


"In my opinion, it is too early to condemn a 16-year-old to a life without redemption," Governor Andrew Cuomo said as he toured the Coxsackie Correctional Facility in May. It is a sentiment many advocates and legislators share. And yet, with the 2015 legislative session in the history books, New York remains one of only two states that tries 16- and 17-year-olds as adults (North Carolina is the other).

Cuomo made raising the age of adult criminality to 18 a top priority during 2015 budget negotiations and the legislative session that followed. While some money toward a potential shift was included in the budget at the end of March, new policy remained elusive. Then, still with no deal to announce on the issue at the end of the extended session, Cuomo declared on June 23 that he would take executive action to make sure 16- and 17-year-olds are sent to alternative detention centers, separate from adult populations.

"We did not reach an agreement on something called 'Raise the Age,'" Cuomo said when announcing a framework end-of-session deal with Senate President John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "Right now 16- and 17-year olds are going to state prisons and that, I believe, is an intolerable situation. So by executive action we will take 16- and 17-year-olds out of state prisons and put them in separate facilities," the governor continued. "I have spent time in prisons and that is not an environment that is suitable for 16- and 17-year olds and let me leave it at that."

Cuomo's announcement may sound fairly cut and dry, but in fact it raises a host of questions and creates a number of uncertainties. "We really don't have much in the way of details," said Paige Pierce, executive director of Families Together New York, an organization that has championed 'Raise the Age.' "We aren't sure if the order applies to county jails like Rikers Island. It isn't clear if the governor has the jurisdiction over county jails. It is a great thing if he does," Pierce says, because without raising the age of adult criminality, "the 40,000 16- and 17-year-olds who get arrested each year will still be treated as adults upon arrest and sent to places like Rikers before trial, where there is no access to services that are available to other juveniles."

Pierce and a host of other advocates and legislators say they are unclear on virtually all of the plan. They haven't seen details on a timeline for the executive action and its implementation; how new facilities will be identified or created; what kind of programming the administration will provide to the newly relocated population; or what impact the new system will have on the larger debate over 'Raise the Age,' which they expect to continue next year.

Since announcing his intention to take executive action on June 23, Cuomo has not spoken about the plan publicly other than two days later, when announcing a final end-of-session deal was in place. He said of 'Raise the Age,' "We take the first step by having 16- and 17-year-olds removed from state prisons and that is a very big deal and was a major imperative for this session. And we'll be creating facilities designed for those 16- and 17-year-olds that will be much more appropriate than a state prison."

The governor's executive action still won't prevent teens from earning criminal records that many, including Cuomo, say haunt them throughout their lives. It also won't eliminate the $100 million the state says it spends annually to jail 16- and 17-year-old offenders. It may even increase those costs as separate facilities must be opened and operated.

Cuomo administration officials stress that the governor will not be issuing an executive order but taking executive action by instructing the Department of Corrections to house 16- and 17-year-olds separately from the adult population. They say how and where those teens will serve their terms is still being worked out.

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking its own steps to ensure teens are no longer jailed at Rikers after reaching a settlement in the class action lawsuit brought by The Legal Aid Society and a number of private law firms. The city settled the Nunez v. City of New York case late last month after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara joined as a complainant. The settlement, papers for which were filed July 1, include installing cameras, reducing use of force against inmates, and an agreement to stop jailing offenders under the age of 18 at the facility.

"Today's papers formalize this administration's long-standing pledge to improve conditions on Rikers, including a commitment to make best efforts to move inmates under the age of 18 off of Rikers Island," de Blasio said in a July 1 statement. "We have a moral imperative to ensure every New Yorker in this city's care is treated with decency and respect."

Meanwhile, advocates are reeling from seeing a last-minute deal come together in Albany - forged by member-driven negotiations between Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans - only to fall apart when it was presented to the Cuomo Administration. A number of sources say that discussions between a few Senate Republicans who seemingly defied their conference to move the issue and Assembly Democrats had borne fruit just as session was coming to an end.
"We were extremely close during the 'Big Ugly' stage," said Pierce of final negotiations. "It wasn't perfect by any means, but it was enough that we could have called it 'Raise the Age.'"

Sources say the Cuomo Administration blew up the deal by responding with an offer that wasn't palatable to the Assembly or Senate. Some advocates believe it was sabotage on the part of the administration so that it could get the legislative package it wants next year in the budget.

"The Governor's executive action is something that should have been done years ago," said Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan, chair of the Senate corrections committee. "We've been violating federal law that mandates 16- and 17 year-olds are kept separate from adults."

Stressing that he supports the governor's action, Gallivan says that 'Raise the Age' is not a simple catch-all because of the many nuances involving how teens are sent through the justice system. He also said the issue was too complicated to get done during this year's end-of-session blitz.

Gallivan and some of his fellow Senate Republicans are concerned that teens that commit serious crimes would be diverted away from prison; that the governor's plan to shift 16- and 17-year-olds to family court would over burden the already taxed system; and that not enough thought has been put into changing the entire process. The senator said he supports alternative sentencing and diversion programs but that more time is needed to consider the issue as a whole. "We need to continue this discussion," he said. "Youth courts and other alternatives should be looked at as models."

Advocates say Gallivan's concerns about family court are disingenuous because the Cuomo administration and legislators actually put increased funding for the family court system in the state budget - money that could be tapped if 'Raise the Age' is passed. Further, they argue that diversion and alternative sentencing would reduce the impact of the influx of teen offenders.

However, a number of advocates who spoke to Gotham Gazette on background said they now have a lot better understanding of where legislators from both houses are on the various issues contained under the 'Raise the Age' banner, and they hope to expedite action on alternative sentencing and other programs where there does appear to be consensus. "It's more a question of complication and time and details," Cuomo told reporters. "The raise the age - we made a lot of good progress [but] we didn't get there."

Whatever progress may be made next year, there was still clearly damage done by this year's failure. The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus joined Cuomo in making the bill a priority and trumpeted the fact that black and Hispanic youth make up 33 percent of all 16- and 17-year-olds in New York and yet black and Hispanic youth represent 72 percent of all arrests and 77 percent of all felony arrests of 16- and 17-year-olds across the state.

The caucus has seen its major priorities routinely defeated year after year under Cuomo and some members are stunned that he allowed 'Raise the Age' to slip away this session. "This wasn't that controversial. We could have had a deal, but apparently it wasn't worth the effort from the second floor," said one Assembly member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who has championed the Senate Democrats' criminal justice reform platform, which includes 'Raise the Age,' said it was particularly stunning to see the issue fail when there is so much focus nationally on reforming the justice system. "I thank the governor for his executive action," Rivera told Gotham Gazette. "It is a good start and the right thing to do but I think it is appalling in the current climate that we can't get anything major on criminal justice reform done."

The Raise the Age NY Campaign, a coalition of many groups including the NAACP and Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, reacted with frustration upon learning there was no end-of-session deal to 'raise the age.' "Governor Cuomo's failure to fulfill his public commitment to pass comprehensive raise the age legislation jeopardizes public safety and lets down children like Kalief Browder who spend years in the adult system for simple mistakes," a statement from the campaign reads. Saying the executive action "barely scratches the surface of this problem" the campaign asserts that New York will continue to "not treat youth in an age-appropriate manner, which leads to youth who are more likely to re-offend and less likely to turn their lives around and become productive citizens. The Governor and Legislature need to fix this problem."

Any executive action Cuomo takes will only last through his administration and could be undone with the stroke of a pen by his eventual successor. It is a reality that worries many and will be part of the ongoing push for legislation. This summer legislators and advocates say they will be watching for Cuomo's action, hoping they will be included in decision making on what services to offer 16- and 17-year-olds while they also plan a full push for next legislative session. "We are very disappointed," said Sen. Rivera, "But I know we are seriously going to turn up the heat."

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
@DavidHowardKing

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Cuomo's Executive Action on 'Raise the Age' Prompts Questions Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:01:51 +0000