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Cuomo, Whitmer in a race to the authoritarian bottom

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Cuomo, Whitmer in a race to the authoritarian bottom

As painful as it is to admit it, there are two colorable arguments against impeaching Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The first is that the best remedy for bad politicians is the ballot box. A better argument, though, is that as hard as it might be to believe, Empire State residents could have it worse. They could be living under the feckless rule of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, my home state.

Such are the rock-bottom expectations set by big-blue-state governors’ race to the authoritarian bottom.

“Big Gretch,” as she is called with what is apparently affection by her supporters, made national headlines last week when it was revealed that she had lied about visiting Florida in defiance of her own travel advisory. When finally confronted with her fabrication, Whitmer admitted that she had spent a few days in the Sunshine State, which in the popular liberal imagination is some kind of post-apocalyptic hillbilly wasteland, equal parts “Deliverance” and “I Am Legend.”

No one can blame Whitmer for wanting to spend time with her ailing father in Florida. But what about the untold numbers of Michiganders who found themselves unable to visit their own relations during the last year? Not long ago, a friend of our family who had been fully vaccinated watched her grandmother die through a glass partition because public-health bureaucrats decided that allowing this nonagenarian to spend her final moments with the vaccinated people she loved was too much of a risk; the woman in question wasn’t even dying of COVID.

But last week’s hypocrisy, which led Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer, to send Whitmer a letter Monday begging her not to “be a stranger” and wishing to “see you again soon,” is only the latest example of her contempt for the people of Michigan.

Say what you want about Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes, but at least he changed his mind after the predictable consequences of introducing active COVID infections into these dens of misery and infection were revealed. Meanwhile, when the Michigan state legislature sent Whitmer a bill that would have made it illegal to do the same thing in our state, she vetoed it out of spite for the GOP majority.

Her painfully insincere argument was that treating COVID patients in empty facilities rather than in old-folks’ homes would be — you can’t make this up — a violation of their privacy rights.

Needless to say, Whitmer’s veto had nothing to do with science. Neither did her absurd and fortunately short-lived ban on the sale of paint and garden gnomes or her decree that it was illegal to visit one’s own vacation home, or her decision to open up the northern half of the state in time for her own planned vacation, where her husband attempted to jump the line to have his boat docked in an upscale marina.

This is to say nothing of her unilateral suspension of the state’s Open Meetings Act, which made the deliberations of virtually all state and local government bodies invisible to the state’s citizens whenever officials found it convenient, and her executive order allowing agencies to all but ignore Freedom of Information Act requests.

None of this is to suggest that Cuomo is a model public servant by comparison. It’s painful to watch him win spurious awards for his hollow TV performances and to see him put in charge of the official White House briefings for the nation’s other 49 governors that were handled by Vice President Mike Pence under Team Trump.

In many cases, Cuomo and Whitmer chose to adopt the same ludicrous policies: allowing bars and restaurants to reopen, for example, but forcing them to close early, no doubt on the grounds that the virus is a nocturnal predator.

And for all their dictatorial excesses, New York and Michigan have fared far worse than GOP-led states the elite media love to bash: Texas has seen cases drop by 50 percent and deaths even more steeply since it dropped its statewide mask mandate, while Michigan was witnessing a massive case surge a week ago.

Cuomo has been every bit as preening and self-congratulatory as Whitmer and has arguably benefitted even more from the incuriosity of the liberal media establishment when it comes to the failings of Democratic politicians. But at least when Whitmer’s competence was revealed as a mirage last year, her name began to disappear from lists of potential running mates for then-candidate Joe Biden, and she found herself appearing less often on cable news and late-night shows.

As far as I know no one has attributed this discrepancy to sexism, which is a real shame. Women are just as qualified to be egomaniacal tinpot authoritarians as men are, thank you very much.

Matthew Walther is editor of The Lamp magazine.

Twitter: @MatthewWalther

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Opinion

Still hopeless on NYC’s homeless

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Still hopeless on NYC’s homeless

New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg minced no words Sunday in slamming the homeless advocates who “have sort of decided that the subway is a reasonable place for folks to live.”

“The answer should never be that someone lives on a bench or someone lives in a tunnel,” she told WABC radio. Darn right. And: “It boggles the mind that there are groups out there that have decided that this is an acceptable solution for these folks.” 

Worse, these groups “have devoted their time and their resources and their advocacy skills” to enabling such abuse of public spaces.

Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio, for his homelessness czar, tapped one of these advocates: Steven Banks, who has presided over a vast increase in city spending on the homeless and a simultaneous rise in the street-homeless problem.

Indeed, the advocates have city politicians so afraid to adopt a “tough love” approach to the homeless that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had to order late-night subway closures in the name of “cleaning,” just to stop these tortured souls from utterly taking over the system. But the closures are about to end — what then?

One good idea is to have places to bring the homeless besides a hospital or jail. But de Blasio put that initiative under the ThriveNYC umbrella — so it’s failed.

As The City reports, City Hall spent over $100 million to build two “diversion centers” for the mentally ill. But one hasn’t opened, and the other is barely used.

That’s right: Four years after $52 million went to rehab a 14,000-square-foot former IRS office in a graffiti-covered Bronx building into one center, it sits empty. Another $51 million actually opened the operation in East Harlem … this past November. It’s served a scant 45 clients since.

In short, conventional progressive thinking fails miserably at soft as well as tough love. Pray that the next mayor breaks from this foolishness.

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Opinion

The wrong time to enforce the new plastic-bag law

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The wrong time to enforce the new plastic-bag law

Sometimes, officials are too eager to move after a media exposé. Case in point, the reaction of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reporting by The City that no grocery or bodega had been fined for ignoring the new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

Boom: Within hours, DEC announced it had issued 12 violation notices, to nine small businesses and three larger entities, including grocery chain Gristedes.

Hello: There’s a pandemic on, adding to the dangers of (already unsanitary) reusable bags and leaving residents, especially in lower-income areas, even more dependent on the closest-available food store.

The DEC, in short, had every reason to just issue written warnings (64 as of April 14) and hold off on fines. But now it has vowed to get tough, including $250 to $500 fines for ignoring warnings.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants some good press, he should loudly order the DEC to return to its policy of mercy. Tell the environmental activists to hold their whining until the pandemic is over.

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Opinion

Eric Adams is the right choice for NYC

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Eric Adams is the right choice for NYC

The Post’s endorsement of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for mayor on Monday has sparked considerable attention, with key figures joining in backing him. Below is a roundup of what they’re saying.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.: “Eric Adams will be a great mayor for the city of New York. I’m glad The Post agrees about having someone with Eric’s career and life experience informing him about how to fight for all New Yorkers.”

Diaz has been an increasingly important force in Democratic circles in the city whose endorsement will carry much weight.

Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan: “New York City is the nation’s economic engine and the fuel for that engine lives in the so-called ‘outer boroughs.’ Indeed, nearly 75 percent of all New York City essential workers live in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Eric Adams knows this, and that’s why he will be a mayor keyed in to the communities, like the one I represent, that are at the edge of the city geographically but at the core of what makes our city run.”

Brannan represents moderate and diverse working-class communities in Brooklyn that could help propel Adams to victory.

Henry Garrido, executive director, DC 37: “There is no candidate more aligned with what our members believe in and stand for. The soul of our city is at stake. We need a mayor who understands the plight of the essential workers who kept this city running and the struggles working people face. That’s Eric.”

There’s no way to overstate the importance of support from unions like Garrido’s. Not only will many of his members take a cue from him, but so will voters who back unions and watch their endorsements carefully.

Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Jake Lemonda: “Like The Post, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association believes Eric Adams is the right choice to lead the city out of these trying times because he offers the best chance of solving the issues bedeviling the entire city.”

Lemonda’s statement can help drum up support for Adams among the uniformed rank and file in the city. Adams’ service as a police officer will likewise help.

Sheikh Musa Drammeh, head of the National Community Peace Building Commission: “Eric Adams is uniquely qualified and positioned to move the city out of its multi-prong socioeconomic challenges. Despite being knocked down by the pandemic, Adams will bring it back to a new and higher level. He personally understands what poor New Yorkers are going through while also appreciating the contributions of wealthy New Yorkers to our economy. New York knows that Eric Adams is the right leader we need now.”

Sheikh Drammeh has led various efforts forging ties between Jews and Muslims as well as improving police-community relations.

David Gold, a consultant and former Wall Street banker: “Eric believes in New York and its future. Wall Street likes him because he is a man with a plan who sticks to it and cares about our city. We need to feel safe on the street, in the subway, in all of our boroughs, and importantly, people should be comfortable coming to New York. We need Eric Adams because New York is at a critical point — our next mayor will be instrumental in making sure we thrive. That should be Eric Adams.”

Gold knows Adams through his work supporting first-responders as well as widows and children of those who have died in the line of duty. His support may signal to Wall Streeters that Adams is no left-wing radical who’ll let the city fall to ruin and force the financial industry to flee.

Jenny Sedlis, who has headed the pro-charter-school advocacy group StudentsFirstNY: “We’re at a moment in public education where we can’t afford to take good ideas off the table. Eric Adams is not beholden to ways of doing things just because it’s how they’ve been done before; he’s committed to putting the needs of students front and center. New York City needs a mayor like Eric Adams who will fight for every student to have access to excellence and opportunity, no matter their zip code.”

Sedlis is fundraising for Strong Leadership NYC, a pro-Adams independent expenditure committee. Her decision to back him will strike a note with parents throughout the city who care about getting a good education for their kids but can’t afford private school.

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