You could look at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sweeping new effort to combat violence in the state any number of ways.
You could look at it as the last gasp of a struggling politician appealing to the public’s fears in order to rescue his wobbly re-election campaign.
You could look at it as a way to change the conversation away from the scandals that have plagued his administration of late, including the covid nursing home scandal, the sexual harassment allegations, the questionable book deal, his possible impeachment, and other skeletons emerging from the governor’s closet.
You could look at his declaration of a new “state of emergency” and his heavy-handed use of executive powers as yet another attempt to bypass the legislative process and reclaim power for himself after the end of the covid emergency.
You could look at it as an attempt to combat growing criticism by his political opponents of policies they claim have contributed to or failed to resolve the state’s crime problems, such as SAFE Act gun control measures and reforms to cash bail, legal discovery and police operations.
You could view his unwillingness to take questions from the press at this big announcement as further evidence of his unwillingness to be forthcoming with the citizens about the specifics of his plans, the timing and justification of the announcement and the other issues he faces as his third term nears its end.
One question reporters might have asked is why it took him so long to make these proposals when many of the issues he raised at his press conference have been ongoing during the entire 10-plus years he’s been in office.
And you could look at what he proposed as a legitimate response to growing concern over the disturbing rise in violence, particularly gun violence, in the state.
Any way you look at it, you’d be right.
It’s all of the above.
As Republicans gel around their candidate in next year’s governor’s race, Cuomo needs a distraction, a winning issue and a boost in the polls – one of which most recently showed a majority of New Yorkers wish he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.
New York governors tend to wear out their welcomes after three terms, regardless of their political affiliation. (See Pataki, George E., and Cuomo, Mario M.)
Even though the current Cuomo has retained his popularity to a great degree, he’s a wounded candidate, and he knows it.
His somewhat vague proposals, to which he no doubt will now go on a promotion tour to put before the voters, do merit consideration.
New York does need to address the influx of illegal weapons coming into the state. It does need long-term and short-term strategies that address the contributing factors to crime and violence, such as unemployment, poverty and domestic issues. It does need more accurate information about gun-related incidents, and it does need more money directed at violence prevention and law enforcement.
Those are all good ideas, which the governor could have proposed before the Legislature went home for the year last month and which should be vetted by our elected representatives in the Legislature for priority, effectiveness and cost.
There’s no doubt New York must address the rise in violence.
If only the timing, approach and content of the governor’s plan could be attributed exclusively to that.