Fwd: "Freakin Giuliani" review of a new play

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Sat Dec 5 06:13:03 PST 1998

/ dave / wrote:

>This reminds me: Can any helpful souls out there (current or former NY
>residents, perhaps?) provide a list of, say, five or ten fundamental
>criticisms of Mario Cuomo, from a left/progressive standpoint?

The basic problem with Cuomo is that he talked like an old-style liberal and did nothing at best and bad stuff at worst. He rolled over and signed a major income tax cut (skewed to the upper brackets) passed by the Republican-dominated legislature; this has left the state with chronic structural budget deficits. (He later took credit for this; when I called his press office late in his final term to ask what they thought the administration's major achievements were, the flack went on & on about reducing the top income tax rate.) To cover up the structural deficit, Cuomo engaged in devious accounting and massive borrowing that only made things worse. In one of the more imaginative transactions, he did a sale-leaseback of Attica Prison with an off-budget state agency. He was also an enthusiastic incarcerator, creating what Bob Fitch called the Cuomo Archipelago - a string of prisons across the depressed counties of upstate New York that were the only bits of economic development the state offered that rather poor region during the 1980s and early 1990s. For New York City, he offered mainly tax breaks for big Wall Street/real estate types, a grotesque reconstruction of the West Side Highway in Manhattan, and a Harlem gentrification plan. The last two were run by completely obscure and unaccountable agencies (for Son of Westway, the Urban Development Corporation and its front group, the cynically named Hudson River Park Conservancy; for Harlem, the Harlem Urban Development Corp.) with massive power to finance themselves through borrowing and to use the proceeds to hand out subsidies and contracts to well-connected developers, lawyers, and financiers.

The only good thing you can say about him is that he did his best, at some political cost, to prevent the return of capital punishment.


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