City Limits’ headlines about the embattled governor illustrate the breadth of his career in public service and reveal the many questions that his policies and politics have raised.
This story, originally published in March 2021, was updated on Aug. 10, 2021
“Everybody is after Andrew,” read the first line in a November 1982 New York Times story, a line that could be published anew this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo, amid a growing chorus of calls for his resignation and numerous scandals—including allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women in his orbit, charges he denies—announced Tuesday that he plans to step down from the state’s executive office. Back near the beginning of Cuomo’s public life, after he’d won a share of his father’s spotlight at age 24 by managing Mario Cuomo’s first campaign for governor, the phrase had a different meaning: People were lining up to ask Andrew for jobs in Mario’s administration.
Gov. Cuomo has been an important figure in New York politics for four decades, and a dominating presence in the 15 years since the run for attorney general that first put him into elected office. He’s been an aide to his dad, a homeless services leader, a federal Cabinet secretary, a failed statewide candidate and winner of four consecutive statewide elections. Over that time there have been highs—like the approval of same-sex marriage, the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, the love he received during the early months of the pandemic—and lows (halting the Moreland Commission, seeing his top aide convicted of corruption and the past several months chief among them).
City Limits’ coverage of Cuomo offers interesting context to the governor’s current crisis, illustrating the breadth of his career in public service and revealing the many questions that his policies and politics have raised. Here are a few highlights of our coverage over the years:
‘A Culture of Fear and Flirtation’: Andrew Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women, A.G. Investigation Finds
State Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into the allegations against Cuomo found that the governor’s actions over the course of seven years “violated multiple state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.”
NYS Assembly Speaker OKs Impeachment Investigation into Gov. Cuomo
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he was authorizing the launch of an impeachment investigation against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment. “The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” the speaker said.
The Night Bill De Blasio Went to Bat for Andrew Cuomo
The near total rupture between the governor and the progressive establishment makes one wonder: How did their relationship last this long? One big reason is Bill de Blasio.
Farmworkers Left Out of NY’s Vaccination Plans, Despite Federal Priority
On Feb. 9, President Biden announced the immunization program for community health centers (FQHC), which includes vaccine priority for farmworkers, but the governor has not yet included them in the state’s immunization rollout.
When Will New York Vaccinate People in Prisons and Jails?
While the governor’s draft vaccination plan includes those in congregate settings in its second phase for vaccines, it doesn’t specifically refer to people in jails and prisons. That lack of clarity has drawn the concern of criminal justice advocates.
Task Force Tally: The Many Groups Cuomo Has Convened to Fix the MTA
In the last three years, the governor—or the MTA, at the governor’s behest—has established expert groups to tackle issues like transit system homelessness, subway train speeds, repairing the L train tunnel and revamping Penn Station. While the approach is successful at bringing a range of voices to the table, It has pitfalls. “Sometimes you create committees and you create task forces to stall.”
Foes of Cuomo’s AirTrain Say it’s the Wrong Priority for COVID-Scarred Nabes
The governor announced that he will seek out federal stimulus aid from the Trump administration for the estimated $2 billion project.
A Nursing Home Had One COVID Case. Then Came the New, Infected Patients.
The award-winning home struggled to keep its workforce equipped, to separate the staff dealing with infected and non-infected people, and to understand what the state’s official death toll has to do with reality.
Decades of Shrinking Hospital Capacity ‘Spelled Disaster’ for New York’s COVID Response
New York has closed dozens of hospitals in the last few decades, the result of larger healthcare trends, policy shifts and cost-cutting efforts. But that downsizing has been “called into question” by the coronavirus pandemic, experts say.
Ban of Repeat Offenders from Subway ‘Hugely Problematic,’ Advocates Say
Gov. Cuomo released a statement at the end of June in support of a transit ban for serial offenders, calling it a “common sense issue” and pushing for elected officials and the courts to “enact the strictest penalties possible” against repeat perpetrators.
NY’s Leaders Pledged to Support ‘Innovation’ to Get Amazon Here. What Exactly Does That Mean?
The mayor and governor have promised to make New York’s policy environment as friendly as they can for the corporate giant. What do the company’s lobbying disclosures say about its agenda?
Coming to Grips With the Two-Decade Deluge of LLC Money into New York’s Democracy
LLCs donate millions each year to state lawmakers’ campaigns. Cuomo, however, stands head and shoulders about the rest, with his total LLC haul greater than that of the next 13 candidates put together. Over this current cycle, LLC donations have comprised 22 percent of Cuomo’s fundraising, or $7.9 million out of his $35.6 million haul.
Cuomo, Now an Advocate for Saving NYCHA, Oversaw Public-Housing Demolition as HUD Chief
As secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Cuomo oversaw the destruction of public housing in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Advocates Demand Albany Tax Rich to Address Homelessness Crisis
Jeremy Saunders of VOCAL-NY says his group and others are frustrated that Cuomo’s “soaring progressive rhetoric” has, in their view, not been matched by action to address the unprecedented homelessness crisis, with 88,000 people living in shelters in the state of New York and a 41 percent increase in homelessness during Cuomo’s first term.
Success and Struggles Point to a Better Way to Help NYC’s Chronically Homeless
While previous phases of supportive housing in New York all grew out of agreements between the mayor and governor, de Blasio and Cuomo have inked no deal. That lack of agreement, and delays in getting state officials to sign a memorandum of understanding outlining their own approach, make some advocates nervous.
Opinion: Schools Need State Help, Not Sensational Headlines
Yes, Governor Cuomo’s recently released report links 178 low-performing schools to the names of the state legislators whose districts they fall in. And yes, the district I represent – the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx – has more than 10 percent of the low-performing schools in the city. But let’s be clear: the debate over education policy is not about me and will not be resolved by pitting one elected official against another.
Initiative to ‘End AIDS’ Looks for Traction in Albany
One of the key parts of the puzzle is having a governor willing to support ideas that aren’t always popular or easy, and King says Andrew Cuomo, who has supported Medicaid reform, gay marriage and gun control laws, fits the bill.
Diagnosing Brooklyn’s Hospital Crisis
Nineteen months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo assembled a team of health care administrators and one financier to radically revamp Brooklyn’s faltering health care system, and three months after the governor wrote the federal Department of Health to report that four of the borough’s 15 hospitals were in real danger of closing without an infusion of Medicaid funding, the governor’s State Department of Health is watching the lights go out in Brooklyn.
Bet on Casinos Means Rewards, Risks
Casino supporters say they’ll generate tax revenue and jobs. The success of nearby casinos suggests they’re right. But new competition could flood the gambling market.
Amid Court Fight, Formerly Homeless In Limbo
The end of the Advantage subsidy program leaves advocates battling to salvage a policy they criticized, the city bracing for more demand for scarce shelter beds and low-income families wondering what comes next.
Critics Of Homeless Program Fight To Save It
New York City’s Advantage housing program has received plenty of criticism during its four years of existence. … But now, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget threatening to eliminate New York State’s $85 million share of the program, many—if not all—Work Advantage critics are fighting to save the program.
Landlord Pinnacle Group Challenges Class Action
Cuomo’s office also investigated Pinnacle. In late 2008, the office announced, with little fanfare, that its investigators, posing as potential tenants, were told that Section 8 vouchers were not accepted at one Pinnacle building, in violation of the rules of a subsidy program in which that building had participated. Pinnacle agreed to better inform employees and tenants of renters’ rights, create a waiting list for Section 8 renters for when any apartments are available, and, separately, set aside apartments for Section 8 renters. But Pinnacle admitted no wrongdoing—and denied Cuomo’s findings—in their agreement with the AG.
‘My people are under pressure right now’: Jobs in Bushwick
Last October, state attorney general Andrew Cuomo had two executives from an Associated Supermarket on Knickerbocker Avenue arrested on charges that they filed false records and defrauded their employees. Cuomo alleged that workers were paid less than $30 for 11-hour days, with some deliverymen earning less than $300 for a 70-hour week.
Retail Workers Celebrate Million-Dollar Victory
Months of organizing by the Retail Action Project (RAP) finally paid off with an announcement by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo last Monday that Henry Ishay – who owns Yellow Rat Bastard along with other trendy clothing stores in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn – would compensate for paying employees below the state minimum wage, failing to provide overtime, and illegally reducing hours and firing those who cooperated with the attorney general’s investigation.
A Little Sunlight in Dark December
“With ‘Project Sunlight,’ we are lifting the veil on Albany and helping citizens learn about their government,” Cuomo said. The initiative was first introduced during his campaign for attorney general as a way to reform New York’s notoriously dysfunctional state government.
Between his failed gubernatorial bid in 2002 and election as state attorney general in late 2006, Cuomo fell off City Limits’ radar—even though Mark Green, another Democrat seeking the AG’s post, cited City Limits’ HUD coverage in an August ’06 debate against Cuomo.
Building a Track Record
Cuomo’s HUD loosened oversight of home lenders, pressed for greater flexibility for cities spending federal dollars and pushed private redevelopment of former public housing sites.
Then in 1997, Cuomo announced the 2020 Management Reform Plan. Spurred by budget cuts from Congress, this streamlining effort resulted in agency-wide staff declines. Now, HUD increasingly relies on private contractors in the banking and real estate professions to manage and sell properties, and to check the soundness of loans and appraisals.
City Diverts AIDS Housing Cash, HUD Stays Mum
Last month, Cuomo yanked $60 million in homeless funding away from the City of New York, charging that the city was improperly administering the money. In retaliation, Senate Republicans announced plans last week to hold hearings on HUD, claiming that the agency was simply trying to make Giuliani look bad.
Prize HUD Program Survives Audit, Budget Battles
[T]he federal housing department’s Community Builders, the “urban Peace Corps” program that is the apple of HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo’s eye… was the scourge of the agency, savaged by a new HUD Inspector General’s audit that called it little more than a patronage-driven PR campaign.
Says Bill de Blasio, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo’s representative for the region: “The dramatic turn around of Elva McZeal represents one of Secretary Cuomo’s highest priorities–getting rid of bad landlords and empowering tenants to take control of their own lives.”
A “Cure” for the Homeless
The Cuomo Commission recommended extensive privatization and specialization of the shelter system, based on the theory that the majority of shelter residents were either mentally ill or substance abusers or both.