Nearly two months ago, when Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Governor, announced that he would use public money to finance higher education in prison, in some quarters people thought that the state was finally wising up and was going to be “smart on crime” as opposed to “tough.” With opposition, mostly from the Republican-controlled State Senate and its constituents, people in upstate New York who, for the most part, benefit from prisons, Cuomo backed down and said he would no longer use public money to finance higher education in prison.
Years ago, when his father was Governor of New York State, I dubbed him Mario the Magician for his sleight-of-hand, using money from the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which was tasked to build affordable housing for the poor in urban areas, to build prisons in upstate rural New York. Note that New York voters had rejected a proposition to build more prisons with public money – thus this end around the will of the voters and the use of UDC monies to build prisons. Since his son became Governor, I have been looking for a tag to place on him. Since he has done nothing in office to date that stands out or distinguishes him from other Governors, not even George Pataki, who was misguided but at least had a platform, I have been unable to tag him. I mean, he has produced a couple of on time budgets, but that’s what we expect. Even in backing down from publicly financing higher education in prison, he somehow took a stand that providing such for people in prison was the smart and the right thing. Thus, I don’t want to say he’s ambivalent about this, only how to finance it. He did though show courage in closing prisons we no longer needed. Still, that was a no-brainer. It is common knowledge that Cuomo the Second is ambitious. Since I feel like it is time to tag him, despite the fact that nothing distinguishes him and his administration, and since I can only think of one thing, I will tag him Andrew the Ambitious.