Governor Hochul, the UnCuomo Governor: A Supporter of Public Schools or a Machiavellian with a Velvet Glove?

Governor Hochul, a fresh voice, a new pathway and checking many of the boxes; rent relief, emphasis on ethics, on culture of openness, a “kinder and gentler” voice in the Mansion. 

The NY Times called the new governor the “UnCuomo,” collaboration across geographic and party lines instead of cracking a whip. (Read here)

On his last day former governor Cuomo whined about being forced from office on his way out the door (Read here)

Hochul selected two key staffers, secretary to the governor and counsel to the governor – both highly respected across party lines. (Hochul top aides here)

Schools do not fall under the direct purview of the governor; in New York State the members of the Board of Regents are “elected” by a joint meeting of both houses of the state legislature – in reality by the Speaker of the Assembly chooses; however, the members of the Board of Regents act independently, the Commissioner of Education is chosen by the 17-members of the Board of Regents, the governor has no role.

Within a week or so Hochul will choose a Lieutenant Governor, probably an Afro-American elected official from New York City. (UPDATE: Hochul selected Brian Benjamin, a 44 year old State Senator representing upper Manhattan, he was a 4th place finisher in the June primary for NYC Comptroller) and have to determine whether to replace the Commissioner of Health and the Budget Director, both close to Cuomo and maybe involved in questionable decisions.

What can we expect from Governor Hochul?

  • Ask the Department of Health to require everyone entering schools to wear a mask and leave enforcement up to school districts?
  • Will she require that all school personnel must be vaccinated with religious and medical exemptions with frequent testing for non-compliers? Who pays for testing and additional staffing to enforce compliance?  Is there an accurate data-bank of vaccinated school employees?
  • Will remote options be left to the discretion of the school districts?
  • Does the governor have a position on charter schools?  Buffalo has been overwhelmed with charter schools with more in the pipeline. Will she support legislation to increase oversight responsibility and transparency of charter schools and explore the impact of charter schools on district public schools? 
  • Does the governor support, oppose, or have no position on parents opting  children out of federally required standardized testing?
  • Will the governor take a position on mayoral control of New York City schools? Eric Adams, the presumptive mayor favors extending mayoral control.
  • Will the governor seek to revise the state school funding formulas?

Any items we missed?

The Governor will have a 4-month Grace Period, a New York City mayor beginning to exit and a new mayor preparing to come on board, the legislature not in session, a time to travel across the state, campaign without actually campaigning, preparing for her first legislative session.

In whatever is the equivalence of a “smoke-filled” room, gubernatorial wannabes will be plotting out their runs in the June primary. No rank choice voting, no matching funds, a  Cynthia Nixon from the left, a candidate of color, a Social Democrat, Scott Stringer, who knows, and, the Republican candidate, Lee Zeldin, a Congressman from Suffolk County, an avid Trumper and pro-Netanyahu waiting for the primary winner in November

In the summer of 2014 a few teacher union locals on Long Island endorsed Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham, in the Democratic primary. After Cuomo won the primary and the general election he used the broken budgeting process to add a year to teacher probation (from three to four years) and a few pro-charter bills.

Cuomo was the most Machiavellian of recent governors.

“it is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
― Niccolo  Machiavelli,The Prince

Will Hochul balance openness, collaboration, teamwork and bipartisanship with the toughness needed to pass legislation?

Hochul originally opposed approving driving licenses for the undocumented, and later recanted: who is the real Hochul?  Is she the conservative upstate democrat or the “flexible” democrat who moves across and within the fragmented Democratic Party? A Machiavellian with a velvet glove?

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