Cuomo's Hurricane Schedule
September 2nd, 2011

Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union writes today about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used the power of the governorship to respond to the crisis caused by hurricane Irene. Cuomo has dashed across the state via helicopter, plane, car etc. from one town to another.

Just as stunning as his use of power was his office’s sudden use of transparency. His press office has helpfully alerted reporters not only to exactly when and where Cuomo was going to be but which public officials would be with him and who he would speak with. For some reporters and good government advocates, this has been a refreshing change.

During his campaign last year Cuomo promised that he would make his work schedule public with details such as which legislators and lobbyists he met with.

“Mr. Cuomo, whose aides told one newspaper last week that his office had not kept a formal detailed schedule during Mr. Cuomo’s first two years as attorney general, pledged if elected to post his entire work schedule online, including meetings with lawmakers and lobbyists,” the Times wrote after an interview with Cuomo in October 2010.

But it is hard to say that Cuomo has lived up to that promise. The Times says he hasn’t. In that same article they note that Cuomo used his finesse to court lawmakers to “tame Albany.”

During the legislative session Cuomo preferred holding impromptu press gaggles in the hall outside his office rather than having traditional press conferences in the Red Room. While that might seem more open, it led to less organization and reporters shouting over each other before Cuomo eventually decided he had his fill of questions and walked away.

Reporters and the public certainly were not given any public details of Cuomo’s meetings. As was the case under previous governors, budget negotiations took place in secret. The Cuomo administration, like its predecessors, provided no details . And Cuomo’s office obviously did not make public which lawmakers Cuomo was courting on the vote for gay marriage. Certain Albany realities may have stopped Cuomo from making his schedule public, but other lawmakers have made the pledge to do so and kept it.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for one made a similar promise when she was in the House of Representatives and has pretty well kept it in her new position. Her website lists public meetings, staff conferences and calls with officials.

Cuomo’s office on the other hand typically releases alerts saying Cuomo “will be in Albany and Westchester” — leaving reporters wondering where Cuomo might pop up.

Perhaps the transparency Cuomo’s office developed during the response to Irene will continue into the next legislative session –although today Cuomo is back to being in Westchester and New York City with no public schedule. Maybe it’s just a Labor Day weekend thing.

By on September 2, 2011, 11:46 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Governing | 2 Comments »

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