THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Lotsa Dems wannabe gov

IT’S SO MUCH FUN to try to get in the brains of ambitious politicians. I always try to figure out what they may be thinking. Perhaps the biggest office available right now is the governorship, now occupied by former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. She has a tremendous amount of regular Democratic insider support and must be considered the leading contender. I have consulted with my mind examination machine (MEM) about what Hochul and her competitors are thinking. So here goes:

Kathy Hochul: “Oh boy, this is tough. I have to be careful not to bite my fingernails off. Everyone is saying that they want into the race. Clearly, Letitia James is worrisome—she is going to have a lot of the Black votes, especially in New York City and probably even in my upstate Niagara area. I’ve picked a Black Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, from the New York City area but I am really worried that might not bring me what I need. Right now, the polls are with me but why are so many people jumping into the race? Does that mean that I’m seen as vulnerable? I suppose having more people in the race adds to the ‘anything can happen’ probability.”

Andrew Cuomo: “These people are really out to get me. The more folks running in the primary, the better off I am. I still hear from a lot of people who think I got screwed and that they’d vote for me. If there are enough people in the race, I may just pull out a victory. I am not the kind of guy who folds, and I scare the hell out of the political class in New York. I do wish I could have been a smarter guy when it came to women and to my closest associates who turned out to be crooks but I bet I can pull this off if my enemies play fair.” Read more…

VAX FACTS: Immigrant parents see vaccination as way to protect lives and learning

AS AN EDUCATOR for 25 years, I learned firsthand the role that consistent attendance plays in students’ academic success. When I read in the Register Star in September that 74 Covid cases had been reported across the six Columbia County school districts since the start of the academic year, I formed an outreach team with the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement (CCSM) to help immigrant parents vaccinate their children.

The CCSM had already developed relationships with immigrant families by setting up food pantries, starting a Mutual Aid Fund, and helping with the Excluded Workers Fund. Because of these relationships we were in a unique position to help more immigrant families in the community get vaccinated, protecting immigrant children’s health and education.

As we made calls, we learned about barriers preventing immigrant parents from vaccinating their children; and parents told us they saw getting everyone vaccinated as the key to protecting their kids, allowing them to stay in school and to consistently learn. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Favorites recalled

HAVING BEEN ALIVE for quite a while, I often find myself looking back on my favorite people. I’ve interviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of people but only a few have risen to the top of my most favorite people list.

For a long, long period of time, I interviewed Mario Cuomo on the radio every week. There were times that Mario could not or would not show up and while he was pretty good about it, once in a while, I would have to find someone to take his place for one of the programs. Sometimes he would get angry with me for a question that he found to be troublesome. Once he was railing against capital punishment, so I asked him if he opposed all capital punishment. He said yes, so I asked him if that included Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi responsible for so many Jewish deaths. Cuomo was trapped and not happy. After all, he had a lot of Jewish constituents. As I recall, he dropped out of the program for a short period after that just like his son, Andrew, dropped out of a weekly interview I was doing with him after he embarrassed himself.

When Mario dropped out, he would often ask my all-time favorite public official, Health Commissioner David Axelrod, to sit in. Mario always called David Axelrod, “My David.” Axelrod was an astounding man and he and I would often sit around, sometimes late into the evening, after taping an interview. He often spoke of driving from Albany to places like Syracuse by himself with no driver. When he got tired, you could hear it in his voice. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: What’s Apple up to?

THE PROBLEM, OF COURSE, is that sometimes we see political actors behave in ways that they really didn’t intend to. “Huh,” you say. Okay, so take Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. He tried to bring charges against Andrew Cuomo for the former governor’s alleged unwanted and inappropriate touching of a former aide. In doing so, he acted the part of the Lone Ranger without choosing to cooperate with other top law enforcement people. Albany District Attorney David Soares, who was left out of the sheriff’s decision-making, made it clear that he didn’t think that the Sheriff had dotted his I’s and crossed his T’s in bringing the charges. Let’s also remember that DA Soares was conducting his own investigation into the complaints against Cuomo. That’s been in all the papers. So why didn’t Apple seek cooperation between the two criminal justice agencies? It’s nonsense to think that he didn’t have the time.

It was very strange that the Apple brought his charges against Cuomo without consulting DA Soares, the man who would have to prosecute the case. Soares is no friend of Cuomo’s. He is a man who tries to do the right thing. I know him well enough from his appearances on WAMC to tell you that. We have certainly seen examples of Soares saying “no” when someone wants to use the law for political retribution. He did exactly that when Cuomo tried to get him to bring charges against some folks for standing on the lawn outside the Capitol. Additionally, it turns out that Apple, who says that he conducted a thorough investigation, didn’t talk with Cuomo’s attorney either.

I know Soares pretty well and I have to tell you that the guy has guts. Look at it this way—the DA excels in doing what’s right as opposed to what’s political. Would you have it any other way? I know that Soares has not received the funding from the governor that he really needs to clean up Albany. Not only that, Cuomo is not particularly popular these days among the politicians who have made their displeasure with him pretty clear. It takes some guts on Soares’ part to stand up to all those folks who, rightly or wrongly, want to hang Cuomo out to dry. Trust me, he has very little to gain for suggesting that he would not follow up on Apple’s proposed indictment. Read more…

KNOW THE VAX FACTS: The impact of Covid-19 on children, schools and community

MANY CHILDREN are now in their third school year of disrupted education and family life. The collective loss and trauma from the Covid-19 pandemic has altered our children’s lives, and the fabric of our society. The recent release of vaccines for children aged 5-11 is giving many families hope that childhood and family life can return to normal.

On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a national emergency as the highly transmissible virus spread rapidly. Shelter-in-place orders altered our daily lives, and the economy. School closures challenged parents of school age children, who struggled to find childcare, and create home learning environments when schools abruptly adopted remote learning. Students from low-income households and rural communities experienced a digital gap, widening existing educational inequities.

In the 2020-2021 school year, schools were required to provide school level Reopening Plans that included in-person instruction, remote instruction or a hybrid model. Schools struggled to provide continuity of learning, meet social and emotional, and nutritional needs. The six Columbia County school districts, private schools, and BOCES had unique plans, and intermittent closures continued as Covid-19 cases rose. Many children dropped out of education all together. Read more…