Within days of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he would resign his post as New York State’s chief executive, the Buffalo News ran an editorial describing the atmosphere in our state’s capital as “an environment long drenched in corruption and entitlement.” As I read the opinion piece, I was struck by its hypocrisy, and crafted a letter-to-the-editor in response.
Not surprisingly, my 300-word submission has not seen the light of day, and will almost certainly not be published in the newspaper’s “Everybody’s Column.” I’d like to share my thoughts with the readers of this blog. Here’s my L-T-E. to which I’ve added links to the editorials referenced in it, and an image or two:
August 12, 2021
This newspaper’s August 11, 2021 editorial – with its August 12th print-version headline, “Fixing Albany” – states that a change in Albany’s culture will come “by virtue of the ethics and good sense of its elected leaders.” Ironically, the positions expressed by the editorial board and staff of the Buffalo News during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure in office have contributed to our state’s environment of corruption.
[Gov. Cuomo’s ironic slogan, “Restoring Public Trust”]
In July 2014, an editorial characterized the Governor’s efforts to hinder the activities of the Moreland Commission – an entity he established to investigate corruption in Albany – as “not just disappointing,” but “shameful.” A mere three months later, the editorial staff endorsed Cuomo’s re-election, calling him “surely the best friend Western New York has ever had in the governor’s office.” While sheepishly admitting, “we wish he had handled the Moreland Commission issue better,” such transgressions were forgiven given the Governor’s “remarkable focus” on rebuilding WNY’s economy through the Buffalo Billion.
Both the 2014 and 2021 editorials recognize that merely “swimming” in Albany’s “polluted waters” encourages unethical and self-serving behavior. Nonetheless, in August 2014 the editorial page set aside its customary practice of not making endorsements in primary elections to urge voters to choose Cuomo over Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. While Teachout – one of our nation’s leading experts on corruption – was described as thoughtful, energetic, and interesting, she was dismissed by the editorial staff as “a political novice.”
[Zephyr Teachout at 2014 fundraiser in East Aurora]
In July 2018, the editorial board attempted to distance the Governor from the “Buffalo Billion scandal” following the conviction of two Cuomo allies, Louis Ciminelli and Alain Kaloyeros. Acknowledging that the convictions “will become fair game” for gubernatorial candidates later that year, the opinion piece proclaimed: “But it’s important to draw a distinction between valuable economic development and the corruption that may come to play.
I strongly disagree. Economic ends never justify a politician’s unethical means.
Arthur J. Giacalone
Thanks for reading my piece.
With All Due Respect,