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Who gets credit? Cuomo or de Blasio?

April 11, 2020 pm30 11:22 pm

When me or my sister would ask my mom who she loved more, she would say “I love you both.” When that got tiresome she would answer “Rebecca” if I asked and “Jonathan” if my sister asked. We learned to stop.

I’ve been thinking of that a lot. Partly because it is obvious who she really loved more, and partly because our mayor and our governor… What is wrong with them?

As New Yorkers became infected, way back in February, the Governor and the Mayor responded. Unfortunately, that’s the Governor of California and the Mayor of San Francisco.

We had scary reports from Italy and France – please don’t delay putting in measures in place, please don’t make our mistakes. And after those reports: “Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions” that was the Mayor, NYC’s Mayor, on March 2. The Governor at the time was a smidge more cautious: “There is no reason for undue anxiety — the general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available.” Wonder how much the virus spread through New York City the first two weeks of March.

By the week of March 9 – 13 it was clear that this was already serious, all the signs were in place. And the mayor and the governor bickered, keeping schools open in the meanwhile.

The schools, by the way, in NYC, 1.1 million school children. Schools in neighborhoods bring all the neighborhood germs together, mix them, and send them back home, every day. Schools that serve whole boroughs or the whole city – they drag kids from home, carrying germs, push them through the subway system, collecting more, mix all day at school, push back through the subway system, and tuck them in at home with brothers and sisters and parents who work…  The school system was functioning as a massive virus circulation pump for the city.

The Governor and Mayor had excuses for not closing schools March 2 – most of us, me included – would have been shocked by the act. But they had enough information to know that that is what they should have done. They certainly knew by March 9. But it was not until the voices of parents and teachers became louder on the tenth, on the eleventh, thunderous on March 12, with the UFT joining in on the 13th, more pressure over the weekend, that the Mayor finally conceded on Sunday March 15.  By that point, how much had the virus spread through the City? The Governor joined him on the 16th, closing school buildings state wide.

I write school buildings, not schools, because we were shifting, awkwardly and uncomfortably, to “distance learning.” The schools are open, teachers are teaching, kids are learning, the buildings are shut.

In any case, who gets credit for starting to take steps slower than California? They both do.

Who gets credit for keeping schools open after the public realized the danger and begged them to act? They both do.

One petition to the governor got a quarter of a million signatures. One to the mayor got over 100,000. Our squabbling toddlers were unimpressed.

By the way, I think it is de Blasio alone who takes responsibility for the next step:  March 17, 18, and 19 he sent staff into schools to plan for remote learning. Only, he was ignoring State protocol on shutting buildings where cases had occurred. I know people got sick during those days. I think he showed callous indifference to the safety of his employees, my colleagues and friends. When this is over, there needs to be an investigation into his actions and those of his subordinates, and if the evidence supports it, criminal charges could be brought.

With the Governor’s Emergency Powers he ordered schools to stay open (the schools, not the buildings) and not take scheduled vacations. In NYC, he took away our spring break, all seven days, including the first day of Passover and Good Friday. Bit of history, the UFT was ok with the other five days, and made it sound patriotic not to complain (after they decided complaining about a popular governor was not a good move).  Not sure why they thought the two religious days weren’t covered. But later that week the Mayor said the two days were also work days and the UFT was furious and started a social media storm (I joined in). But here, I think, credit should have gone to the Governor. I can’t make much sense out of the reactions, unless de Blasio told us that he could take care of the two days, then found out he could not, and did not have the sense to blame Cuomo, or did not want to look weak. Not that he is very good at getting out of his own way.

Sidebar: Cuomo’s press conferences have looked professional. He has sounded competent. But that’s a low bar when compared to Trump’s rambling conferences, yelling at reporters when he doesn’t like the questions, boasting about himself, blaming others. It’s also a low bar compared to de Blasio’s ploddingly slow performances, whiny and pleading. In comparison Cuomo has looked downright presidential, sparking rumors. But like I wrote, low bar. And today, when asked about nurses without PPE, he lied. Also presidential, but no vote from me.

In any case, the kids were staying home, the excuse that they needed good grammar lessons to keep them off the streets was ludicrous. I think one of them was responsible, the other agreed, but let’s let them share the credit for taking away vacation with no good reason.

And now, today, de Blasio announced (9:30 AM) school’s would remain remote (buildings closed) for the rest of the year. And then Cuomo said (11:30) that’s de Blasio’s opinion. And probably de Blasio made his announcement at 9:30 on Saturday so that he could be on the news and get the credit. Apparently an aide called the governor’s office 5 minutes earlier, so BdB could claim he notified Cuomo.  Chicken shit, right?  So does Cuomo say, he needed to check with me, we will formally look at this on Monday, but this is the right idea? No, no, because that would let de Blasio get away with taking credit for what Cuomo was going to take credit for on Monday (I think) or possibly later in the week now, whichever day makes him look the most presidential.

But let’s ask the big question: The US is Corona #1 in the world now, New York State is Corona #1 in the US, and New York City is far and away Corona #1 in New York State. Who is responsible?

Let them share the credit!  I love them the same.  And you want to throw Trump in?  That’s cool. But remember, Trump did not force de Blasio to tell New Yorkers to get on with their lives, when COVID-19 was silently spreading. And Trump did not force Cuomo to claim that the general risk in New York was low. he gets plenty of blame for other stuff, but our Mayor and Governor have behaved, hmm, specially.

Two nice pieces:  NY v California.  And NY v time

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Arthur Goldstein permalink
    April 12, 2020 am30 9:54 am 9:54 am

    I might have said, “blame,” as opposed to credit.

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