THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Fight with Gov? Not smart

AS I REMEMBER, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon used to talk about his “jurisdiction.” Who would have thunk that the concept of jurisdiction would make a major comeback in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic and yet another scourge known as Donald Trump. We have a president who is insisting that his powers are paramount to that of governors, mayors, state legislatures and both houses of Congress. In Gunsmoke, Matt Dillon was a U.S. marshall and that made him more important than the lesser sheriffs and law enforcement folks in his jurisdiction. Ditto the legend of Wyatt Earp, who was both a local law enforcement guy and a U.S. marshall. Of course, that is all fiction.

Today, we are seeing jurisdictional fights all around us. Just take New York, for example. Unless you have difficulty with hearing and seeing, you are well aware of the bad blood between Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and his adversary, the Democratic mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. We all know that the two guys don’t like each other very much. Cuomo is riding the waves (as we used to say on Fire Island) with a polling rating above 65%, while poor de Blasio is down in the basement. I’m not sure what the origins of that fight are all about. Part of it may be that at one point, both men had their eyes on the White House. Both will deny it until the moment one or the other of them decides to run. In the competition between Cuomo and de Blasio, Cuomo has certainly prevailed. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Public perception of Cuomo improves

ANDREW CUOMO HAS BEEN AMAZING for many reasons. I truly appreciate the respect he has for WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. I have always believed in the Freudian concept that character is established at a very young age but I think that theory has been challenged by Andrew’s personal development. The three-term governor argues that he hasn’t changed at all; that he is the same guy he has always been. Maybe, but I keep meeting people who used to despise him. They considered him mean spirited and lacking a sense of humor. Interestingly, many of these same people who used to have a bad opinion of Andrew are now singing a different tune.

For one thing, he is smarter than they thought. They also talk about how funny he can be when they previously accused him of having no sense of humor. I interviewed his father for more years than I can remember and I see a lot of parallels between Mario and Andrew. They both have had their dark moments but since I have been interviewing him pretty much weekly, I have to tell you that I really like him. He has been kind and complimentary about my work and I always leave our sessions feeling great.

It hasn’t always been easy between the two of us. For his first two terms, he didn’t talk to me. Then, one day, there he was, and he has been coming back pretty much ever since. I try to ask him the tough questions and for the most part, he answers them. The last time we spoke I asked him who he was dating. I knew that he wasn’t going to be straight with me and he jokingly referred to a lady who wrote to me hoping to get an introduction to him. He described her attributes in some detail. If you are asking why Andrew’s social life is important to any of us, the answer is because it is. We are disgusted by Donald Trump’s treatment of women because we do judge our politicians on the basis of character. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: You’d want this guy in your corner

EVERYONE NEEDS A HERO and my hero is a man named Carmi Rapport. I love the guy. He is a valued member of the Board of Trustees of Northeast Public Radio, the public radio network that I head. If there is ever a problem, Carmi is the guy you want in your corner. He is reasonable to a fault. He never goes off half-cocked and because is a lawyer’s lawyer, he has the ability to keep his clients (I am not one) out of the kind of trouble that people can sometimes find themselves in. Every small town in America, like Hudson, New York and the surrounding Columbia County has The lawyer. Oh, there are others but anyone reading this knows exactly what I mean. For well over 50 years, Carmi was the go-to guy if you really needed help.

Here’s just one story that makes me wet around the eyes when I tell it (which is why I try not to tell it on the radio). I had another hero, a man named Aaron Mitrani. Aaron was a social worker who, for years, headed the Bronx House Emanuel Camps in Copake. When Aaron was dying, he called me and asked for a favor. Since I would have done anything for him, I set my mind to helping him. It seemed that as a social worker he didn’t have a lot of money, but he had a house in Ancram in Columbia County. The will Aaron wrote with his first wife left the house to the offspring in the family. Aaron had remarried and upon his death, his wife would have been left with virtually no resources. So Aaron asked me to figure out how his second wife could get the house. Of course, not being a lawyer or even that smart, I called the one guy who you go to, Carmi Rapport.

When I told Carmi what I needed, he said, “Of course,” and asked for Aaron’s address. When I told him, with some trepidation, that Aaron had very little money, Carmi said something like, “Shut up.” That’s why I cry. Read more…