In search of the truth

“I’m not lying to you…this time”, said former Kingston mayor T.R. Gallo at his convincing best.

Which brings us to the increasingly uncredible Andrew “who cares” Cuomo.

It appears that the governor’s carefully contrived scheme to conceal the real truth behind nursing homes deaths from the pandemic is all of a sudden coming undone.

First, it was Attorney General Letitia James’ startling report that contrary to Cuomo’s repeated pronouncements, nursing home deaths from Covid-19 were some 50% higher than he had said. But again, who cares? Or as Cuomo put it “dead is dead.”

This bombshell was followed two weeks later by an admission by Cuomo’s top assistant, secretary Melissa DeRosa, that the administration had withheld information on fatalities requested by the CDC last August because it feared “it might be used against us.” But who cares? Obstruction of justice went out with Nixon.

Republicans, but much more importantly Democrats, are calling for a “9/11-type” investigation of what the governor knew and why he concealed it. The answer to the latter is obvious. Partisanship from powerless Republicans can be expected, but for Democrats to come forth against “their” governor rocks the foundation. Fact is, Democrats have long resented Cuomo’s hands-on (their throats), vindictive, take-no-prisoners style of autocratic rule.  And those former allies now hold veto-proof majorities in both houses of the legislature.

The more operative question now might be, will he be lying to us the next time?

 Meanwhile, speculation roils on.

Will Cuomo resign? Not likely. He’s already committed to the fourth term his father Mario could not quite achieve. Historical footnote: The elder Cuomo was defeated by then-senator Georg Pataki in 1994.

Can he be recalled, a humiliation that may await the fate of California’s tone-deaf governor? Former Gov. Pataki, who should have known better, suggested as much. There is no recall provision in the state constitution.

Can he be impeached (removed from office) by the legislature? That’s not clear, but is nonetheless intriguing.  A formal censure by one house or both would be a long shot, but more likely than impeachment. But, oh, the irony!

Should Cuomo vacate, either by choice or kicking and screaming, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochal of Erie County takes over. Like all second bananas, a tireless cheerleader for everything Cuomo, Hochal would represent something of a return to normalcy from the strutting popinjay we have endured for almost a decade.

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HERE AND THERE – I made the basic mistake of not checking primary sources in repeating published accounts that the New York City EPA was releasing 600 thousand of disgusting muddy water a day into the Esopus Creek. It’s actually, 660 million gallons. That’s a lot of water, especially if it’s lapping around your ankles in your creekfront homestead.

Some might fear the Ashokan running dry at that rate of daily discharge. Not so. According to the EPA, the reservoir, containing almost 123 billion (with a” b”) gallons of water, would take more than a year to drain it at present runoffs. Kingston’s Cooper Lake reservoir in Woodstock contains about 1.2 billion gallons of water, according to the water department website.

The financial news from Kingston City Hall seems to get better every month. After warning of potential pandemic-driven shortfalls of at least $4 million 2021 sales tax revenues last December, financial officers now advise the city may well hit budget projections.

Believe that, and they’ll sell you a piece of the dilapidated and apparently indefinitely closed Rondout Creek Bridge between Esopus and Kingston.

County officials may or may not have the votes (in an election year!) to push through a surtax on real estate sales sponsors say could generate a million a year. But only for county government. Unlike the mortgage tax, which is shared with the municipalities where generated, this windfall will be retained by county government. Somewhere there’s a moribund supervisor’s and mayor’s association that should be pressing legislators for at least some crumbs.

And speaking of government finance, some 3,400 residents of the town of Pleasant Valley in Dutchess County were recently stunned to receive property tax bills that called for a 17.5% increase for this year.

One town councilman, quoted in Northern Dutchess News, called it “an honest mistake” though like the rest of the five-member board, didn’t know how it happened. That state cap on property tax increases is 2%, (red flag!) which can be overridden by a supermajority of the governing body (majority, plus one.)

Here’s how it might have happened:

Town Board member No. 1 at final budget review: “It’s 1.7 percent, right?”

The rest of the town board: “Right! Let’s vote!”

Problem is, returning the money, or crediting overcharged taxpayers, gets really complicated under state law, or is altogether forbidden.

Memo to the town board: Measure twice, cut once.

Memo to Pleasant Valley voters: Check out this inept town board in the November elections.