NEW YORK — Mayor Bill deBlasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been at political odds over many things, and now, de Blasio is siding with Queens Democrat Assemblymember Ron Kim in Kim’s feud with the long-time chief executive of New York state.
Kim said Wednesday the governor threatened his career during an angry phone call last week, something Cuomo’s staff denied.
“The bullying is nothing new,” de Blasio said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday.
He put his support behind the state legislator.
“I believe Ron Kim,” de Blasio continued. “100%.”
And he said it’s not the first time he’s heard of that behavior from Cuomo.
“A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls,” de Blasio said. “The threats, the belittling, the demands.”
Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser for the governor, issued a lengthy statement Wednesday night denouncing Kim’s claims.
“Mr. Kim is lying about his conversation with the governor Thursday night. I know because I was one of three other people in the room where the phone call occurred. At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup.’ That’s beyond the pale and is unfortunately part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.”
It’s been a rough few weeks politically for the three-term governor, who had received kudos nationally for his calm, concise daily briefings during the early months of the novel coronavirus pandemic. New York was the epicenter for COVID-19 cases and deaths between March and June 2020.
Cuomo even won an International Emmy for his adept use of television and video to get the message out about social distancing, mask wearing, and flattening the curve; he also wrote a book titled “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
He worked hard to secure ventilators for the state and worried New York wouldn’t have enough ICU beds if COVID-19 cases were to put tens of thousands in the hospital.
As it turned out, the state was able to get enough ventilators, but decisions relating to nursing homes continued to dog his health department.
Health department officials finally acknowledged more than 4,000 additional COVID deaths could be linked to nursing homes, bringing the total for all long-term care facility deaths to 15,000 or more.
There was also lobbying by the Greater New York Hospital Association to get a liability shield provision into the state budget last year, according to Professor Nina Kohn of Syracuse University.
“It protects the entire corporate chain, and it protects them from civil and criminal liability,” Kohn noted. “It protects them from any liability for shortages in resources or staff.”
“There has been a very modest amendment,” Kohn said, resulting in the partial repeal of the liability shield.
Cuomo said on Monday the state will launch a new focus on “for profit” nursing homes.
“Those institutions are trying to make money,” the governor said. “It’s too easy to sacrifice patient care.”
Right now, the governor’s coronavirus task force is facing a preliminary FBI investigation in conjunction with the Eastern District of New York, according to a Wednesday report from the Albany Times Union.