THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: A home? It’s not just cash

ONE OF MY LOCAL NEWSPAPERS recently ran a story about the lack of affordable housing in our area. This comes as no surprise—we have known about this problem for quite some time. I’ve written about it at length. The American Dream stipulates that we will own our own homes. There is just something about home ownership that fits into our sense of self-empowerment. I remember my mother and father paying a monthly stipend to our mortgage lending bank.

The idea of having to get a mortgage from a bank to actually own where we live sticks in our craw. It raises the question of who actually owns our homes. We Americans have pride in our real estate. The older we get, the more personally invested we seem to be into owning what we live in. We may have fooled ourselves into thinking that home ownership empowers us. If you are reading this now do you think that owning your own home, maybe in counter distinction to your parents, gives you a leg up?

When we bought our first home in Alford, Massachusetts, we had all kinds of grief handed to us by the local bank but we prevailed. It wasn’t comfortable, but we got our money. We bought our home with what we now think of as a tiny mortgage of, if I remember it correctly, $13,000. And we didn’t get it easily. We really had to beg for that amount. In fact, if the banks refused to loan you the money to buy a house, you were done; you were not going to be a home owner. Without going any further I will advance the theory that the personal predilections of individual bankers meant a great deal. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: He likes the Isle of Manhattan

NEW YORK STATE IS A PRETTY big place. When we try to figure out the ethos of state as a whole, we surely have to divide it up into smaller pieces. Buffalo is not Manhattan and never will be. The rural counties are a completely different beast than the Big Apple. From Buffalo to Staten Island, there are a lot of little pieces to put together in order to construct the jigsaw puzzle that is New York State. Nevertheless, the biggest, most important part of the whole thing is Manhattan.

Oh, there may be an argument that the pieces could or should be put together in a way that makes sense no matter where you live, but it really doesn’t work that way. Turn on any television program or pick up the New York Times and you’ll be in no doubt that New York means Manhattan. I am sure that there are people who will reject such reasoning out of hand.

For years if you said “Brooklyn” you were talking about a smaller, outlying place within the larger city. When I was a kid growing up, so many years ago, Brooklyn was too often the place where your less well-to-do relatives might have lived. Then many New Yorkers left Manhattan for Brooklyn, once most famous for being the home of the Dodgers, the “Bums.” Brooklyn became a haven for young families and important in a way that I never thought it could or would. Nonetheless, it will never be Manhattan. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Hochul avoids Cuomo’s mistakes

SO HOW IS KATHY HOCHUL DOING as governor of New York? Turns out that she is doing okay. She did make a false step or two by rewarding her friends and in doing so, punishing her enemies, which is not atypical for a new governor. But Hochul has avoided the sort of Cuomo machismo mistakes. She doesn’t beat her chest and proclaim her superiority. She appears to be a nice person and that sits well with her constituents. If she continues down that path, she will be successful in the traditional won or lost columns by which politicians are judged. The truth is, politicians are judged in the same way that we mere mortals judge each other. Do we like someone because they appear “nice”? Hochul wins in that category. I think that when politicians tick people off, it is often because they are perceived as pushing “too hard.” Maybe because Hochul is a woman, she has been able to avoid the usual accusations of doing that.

We often compare our politicians with those who came before them. Papa Cuomo was a nice man who tried his best to make people like and respect him. Junior Cuomo, not so much. For Andrew, personal success was about being “Tough Guy Andrew.” Mario, who I knew quite well, was a throwback to the old days when politicians were judged on their ability to deliver. They were considered successful if they could vanquish their political enemies. Andrew was actually pretty successful at that. His greatest failure was in recruiting people who could get him into trouble. It is my impression that he is trying to get back into the game and, if you will, into the winner’s circle. Right now, though, I don’t think he’s getting anywhere.

If you are governor of New York, the next logical step is to run for president of the country. There was a time when governors of New York were expected to take that next step and run for the top job. That certainly was the expectation for the Cuomos. Mario probably failed at that for bad reasons. Number one on that list was completely ridiculous—the fact that he was Italian was held against him by too many people and while he should have been a top presidential candidate, he never made it to that list. Both Mario and Andrew proved that they could be excellent governors and administrators but they didn’t turn that success around and make it work for them as possible presidential candidates. Read more…