NEW YORK — The tide is turning against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic and the way he’s pushed back against his fellow state lawmakers.
Both the New York State Assembly and Senate appear to be on the verge of stripping away at least some of Cuomo’s emergency powers to handle the pandemic. Lawmakers are also starting to be less and less afraid to speak out against the most powerful figure in the state.
Make no mistake about it, even during the height of praise being heaped on the governor for calmly handling the pandemic, criticism was bubbling under the surface. Now, it’s boiling over.
“[Cuomo] calls and threatens people all the time. I’ve heard dozens of stories,” said Bronx-based State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, speaking off the cuff before a Zoom press conference about prison reform.
With more than a dozen state lawmakers on the call, Rivera unloaded on the governor, who’s been accused of berating Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim for being critical of Cuomo’s handling of the nursing homes during the pandemic.
Cuomo denies the allegation.
Another lawmaker, off camera, reveals a nickname among state leaders for Cuomo.
“You talking about the emperor like that?,” asked Khaleel Anderson.
The chiding aside, Rivera says there are real consequences to crossing Cuomo and he wishes more lawmakers would stand up to him.
“He can still take your bill out of a pile and veto them because he loathes you. That happens it happens to me, he does all sorts of things so I can’t hold my tongue for this guy.”
The dissent appears to be growing. Leadership in the assembly says there will be a conference about stripping Cuomo’s emergency pandemic powers in the very near future.
Senate leadership, according to multiple sources, may move on this as early as next week, creating a commission to review anything pandemic-related Cuomo does.
Senate leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins believes this is an urgent matter.
“We certainly see the need for quick response. Our proposal would create a system with increased input, while at the same time, ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” she said Thursday.
PIX11 News followed up with State Sen. Rivera, who made clear he himself has only been threatened by Cuomo’s staff, not him personally. He still insists Cuomo has done the threatening personally to many lawmakers.
The governor’s office has not responded to PIX11 News’ request for comment.