Is Kathy Hochul Leading the State Toward Equity, Justice and Prosperity or Engaged in Mortal Combat?

Lincoln was convinced he was going to lose the 1864 presidential election, his opponent, General George McClellan was a popular general and the nation was fatigued from seemingly endless years of bloodshed, Lincoln prevailed and laid out his post plans in his iconic Second Inaugural address (March 4, 1865)

“Fondly do we hope ~ fervently do we pray ~ that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

A month later, April 9, 1865 Lee surrendered and the war ended, six days later, April 15, 1865 Lincoln was assassinated.

Andrew Johnson, the vice president, from Tennessee, was placed on the ticket to draw votes from the free border states; Johnson’s plan for reconstruction was simple,

The Confederate states would be required to uphold the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery; swear loyalty to the Union; and pay off their war debt. Then they could re-write their state constitutions, hold elections, and begin sending representatives to Washington.

Elections were held in former Confederate States; officials from the former Confederacy were elected and would return to Congress when it reconvened in December.

The Republicans, the party of Lincoln was livid, and, in December refused to seat the former Confederates, passed host of bills, overrode Johnson’s vetoes, and, eventually impeached Johnson, an impeachment that failed by one vote.

Vice presidents (and lieutenant governors) have not fared well.

On a languid day in August of 2021 Andrew Cuomo reluctantly walked off the stage, facing impeachment he resigned and a virtually unknown Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul took the oath of office. Cuomo had tried to dump Hochul off the ticket, relented; perhaps she could collect upstate votes, she survived and became the first female governor in New York State.

A year ago, the unelected governor and former lieutenant governor released her preliminary budget, and as usual the budget contained many non-budget items, basically disempowering the legislature.

The budget process in New York State is arcane; the fiscal year begins April 1 and for years the governor and the legislature could not agree and the state operated on weekly “extenders” emanating from the governor. Budgets were eventually approved in June, July or sometimes August.  Governor Cuomo succeeded in reining in the legislature and over his three terms budgets were on time.

You may remember David Paterson; the first Black statewide elected served as Governor Spitzer’s Lieutenant Governor and succeeded Spitzer who resigned over his prostitution scandal. The budget dysfunction only accelerated under Paterson.  In 2010, an election year, Paterson, who announced he would be running, and whose approval rating plummeted into the 20% range, stepped aside for the Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo. Read an excellent review of the NYS budgeting process here.

Hochel, like Paterson faced an empowered legislature who jumped into the void, an unelected governor seeking an elected term; the legislature successfully resisted packing non-budgetary items into an on-time budget.

A year later, an elected governor, although narrowly elected, another executive budget, read the 167-pages here and one line is definitely not a budgetary issue,

NYC Mayoral Control. The Executive Budget provides a four-year extension of Mayoral control of the New York City school system

Hochul has chosen to battle with both the legislature and some of her former allies, the allies who elected her in a surprisingly close election, maybe just a skirmish, maybe flexing her muscles, maybe, like Johnson and Paterson, going to war.

The constitutionally required redistricting, leans heavily towards the party in power, the Democrat’s plan was thrown out by the conservative leaning Court of Appeals resulting in the loss of five Congressional seats.  With the retirement of the Chief Justice Hochul appointed Judge LaSalle, looked upon as a middle-of-the-road right leaning judge. Democrats were livid and the Senate Committee, by a 10-9 margin refused to pass the selection on to the full Senate, Hochel argued the committee chaired by Brad Holyman; had to pass the selection on to the full Senate, the Senate leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins refused and Hochul is threatening to go to court.

On the last day possible (precluding a veto override) Hochel vetoed the Family Grieving Act

The current law allows beneficiaries to seek only “pecuniary” damages — economic costs like lost wages and earning potential — in wrongful death cases. That has particularly hamstrung parents of small children killed in such cases, who had no wages to lose.

Under the vetoed bill, New York would have changed the law to allow the deceased’s families to seek a wide variety of damages, including for emotional costs such as grief and anguish and loss of companionship resulting from a wrongful death

The primary sponsor of the bill is Senator Holyman, who chaired the committee that turned away Hochul’s judicial appointment. The Assembly sponsor is Helene Weinstein, the #2 ranking member of the Assembly.  The bill is extremely popular and supported by many organizations, opposed by insurance companies.

Was Hochul’s veto retribution for Holyman’s refusal to approve her judicial nomination?

Hochel’s budget also included a section raising the charter school cap in New York City and other charter school perks.

  • Eliminate the regional cap on the number of charters that may be issued in New York City. This will grant New York City applicants access to 84 charters still available.
  • Permanently authorize the reissuance of any charter originally issued to a charter school that subsequently closed after July 1, 2015 due to surrender, revocation, termination or non-renewal. As of September 2022, the last public update from SED, there were 22 zombie charters, with 14 in NYC and 8 in the rest of the state.  
  • NYC charter school per-pupil funding will increase by 4.5%, up $793 from $17,626 to $18,419.
  • Allocate $100M for NYC charter school facility aid.

The chair of the Senate Education Committee and NYC Education Committee vigorously opposed the proposal,

 “NYC could see an increase of more than 100 new charter schools. This will further increase the financial burden on NYC traditional public schools, taking much-needed resources away from schools serving the vast majority of our children. NYC Department of Education (DOE) is required to provide space for charter schools in DOE buildings or pay the rent for charters operating in private buildings,”  

Liu, the former New York City comptroller, separately called Hochul’s proposal a “non-starter.”

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the NYC teacher union said he would fight the proposal “tooth and nail”

Why would Hochul abjure her strongest supporters in her election?  The teachers union, at the state and local level phone-banked, went door-to-door, efforts that may very well been decisive in the election.

Was she see seeking charter school dollars for her next campaign? 

Relationships matter, matter a lot.

Albany is a village, a village made up of 150 Assembly members, 63 Senators and a Governor and the 213 legislators all pushing their interests embedded in the thousands of bills that percolate through the marble halls of the Capital and the Legislative Office Building.  Legislators are sensitive to the opinions of their constituents and the representatives of their constituents. Community Education Councils, the elected local school boards in NYC vigorously oppose charter schools.

Ross Barkin, a frequent commentator on state politics goes deep into the weeds analyzing Hochel’s relationship with the progressive wing of the Albany legislature..

Andrew Cuomo ruled Albany with an iron fist, he took no prisoners, George Pataki deftly danced between the Albany factions in both parties, Hochul has begun her tenure by alienating key allies.  She may find the funding for the Buffalo football stadium is caught up in a logjam and her husband’s business dealings under scrutiny.  

Albany politics is a full contact sport without referees or umpires, more akin to the Roman coliseum with the populace deciding who lives and who dies.

In 1866 a Surrogate of New York County wrote in a decision on a legal malpractice claim against a deceased lawyer’s estate: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

2 responses to “Is Kathy Hochul Leading the State Toward Equity, Justice and Prosperity or Engaged in Mortal Combat?

  1. Interesting Article I didn’t know the whole History with Hochul & past Governors. In be assume all my Political Meetings they act like Corruption (my opinion) been used Historically NY & not being forthcoming with DEMS & Community.

    Let’s finish Conversation send Avail


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s