Hugh Reynolds: He’s the bomb

Rob Astorino. (Facebook photo)

Rob Astorino. (Facebook photo)

Give Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor currently floundering and polling in the mid-20s, credit for taking on a job nobody else wanted. But comparing Andrew Cuomo with Mario Cuomo’s last run indicates the poor man is not only suicidal but delusional as well.

Astorino was in Kingston for a few hours last Wednesday, leaving just before sundown put of respect for the Jewish New Year. He brought a message of hope and urgency to the 100 or so old to middle-aged Republican stalwarts picking at the cheese-and-cracker buffet at the dimly lit Garden Lounge in Kingston. Harking to GOP salad days, he told the standing-room-only crowd — there were no chairs — how an unknown state senator named George Pataki (“a man twice my height,” whatever that meant) had defeated a front-running incumbent named Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Mario Cuomo was at the end of a 12-year-long rope when he ran for a fourth term, with son Andrew as his campaign manager. So thoroughly had Mario become detested that the operative phrase that season was “ABC,” Anybody But Cuomo. That “anybody” was elected to three terms in his own right, which says something about the state in which the elder Cuomo left the Democratic Party.


This Cuomo may not be particularly well-liked, either, especially upstate, but he is standing for only his second term. I know, it seems longer. Such is the curse of the Cuomos.

Andrew Cuomo has some of the qualities of his sire, but far too many of his faults to last more than two terms. There is broad speculation he may not finish a second term, should national politics turn his way in 2016.

Cuomo’s gaze is fixed well south of Albany, as was evidenced by his recent visit to the troops in Afghanistan. I was wondering what the governor New York was doing in a combat zone 8,000 miles away until I saw the hastily-put-together campaign ads extolling his support of veterans. Say what you will about this man, he is without shame.

It struck a newsroom wag that Cuomo is apparently less afraid of the Taliban than he is of debating Astorino. (Editor’s note: The wag, who says he cares deeply about proper attribution, says he saw that on Twitter, from NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt.)

His “anti-corruption” media campaign accuses the Westchester County executive of the kind of corruption and cronyism that would have made Boss Tweed blush. This from a governor who dismissed his own commission on corruption after its sleuths got a little too close for comfort. Astorino’s “atomic-bomb” TV ad showing an image of Cuomo in a mushroom cloud of corruption at least got people talking about a race many thought over in June.

Astorino, running on fumes and begging at whistle stops like Kingston “for TV money,” will soldier on to certain fate. If he gets to 40 percent, as Cuomo primary foe Zephyr Teachout nearly did, he, like she, will consider it a moral victory. And whatever happened to Zephyr Teachout?

Kevin Roberts. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Kevin Roberts. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

If you get to Albany

I don’t know exactly when the local Republicans got lost in the 1990s, but two weeks ago Assembly candidate Kevin Roberts was comparing his long-shot quest against nine-term incumbent Kevin Cahill to when Cahill lost to the unknown John Guerin in 1994. I don’t mean to prick Roberts’ balloon, but once again the circumstances were hardly comparable. Twenty years ago, Cahill was a first-term assemblyman, running with an albatross named Mario around his neck, his base in Kingston divided and distracted by Mayor T.R. Gallo’s drive to overturn charter revision in the city (city manager). Rather full of himself as a young politician, Cahill in those days was more likely to make enemies than friends and had yet to tap into that bottomless pork barrel that is Shelley’s Silver Mine.

Roberts can take credit for this one-liner: “Cuomo is like Spitzer [the self-proclaimed ‘bulldozer’] on steroids.”

The easy-going Roberts is popular with his fellow legislators, so nobody took seriously what appeared a snide remark from Democrat Rich Parete at last week’s session. On the table was a bill to commit the county to expanding broadband coverage. Parete, who works as an installer for Verizon, has more than passing knowledge of this subject. “It’s pretty complicated and the state has to play a part,” he said, adding to Roberts, “If you get to Albany in January, you should look into it.”

“I meant no disrespect,” Parete said afterward. “I actually like Kevin Roberts. He’s a good guy.” Actually, he likes Cahill, a long-time Parete ally, a good deal more.


All bottled up

I saw a dowser on the front lawn of Kingston’s City Hall earlier this week.

“Looking for water?” I asked.

“No, city officials,” he said.

Last week it was a bearded man with a lamp, searching for an honest person. Somebody stole his lamp.

For the most part, city officials went underground when news broke that the water department was negotiating a deal to sell a maximum of 1.75 million gallons of water a day to a national bottling company to be headquartered at a new plant in Lake Katrine. Now, after pointed inquiries from constituents, some have begun to emerge.

The mayor, for instance, is four-square against any deal that would jeopardize the water supply of city residents. As a matter of policy, law and precedent, so is the water department. Hizzoner is only playing Little Sir Echo. But when mayors bark, bureaucrats listen.

Aldermen, who have even less authority than the mayor over the water board — he appoints its members — do vote on departmental bond issues. They have yet to fathom which way the current is flowing. Here, I do not include Third Ward Alderman Brad Will, who has an opinion, usually contrary to the mayor’s, on everything.

For what it’s worth, this is what I was hearing over the weekend: There are extremists in every controversy, but most people I talked to didn’t have a problem with selling water to our neighbors in Ulster and Esopus. The Town of Ulster, with a daily commitment of 700,000 gallons, is the city’s biggest water customer. Many folks do have a problem with selling water to an out-of-town bottling company which plans to market it by the millions of bottles in New York, Boston and other East Coast urban centers. Some people just don’t like the idea of water in plastic containers.

The prospect of rate relief on a deal that could pump some $1.8 million a year into water department coffers — its current budget is $4.1 million — is appealing, for sure, but not if it puts the water supply at risk.

Water Superintendent Judy Hansen, after returning from a brief business trip, insists that there’s no risk. But pumping another 1.8 million gallons out of an aging system already using around 4 million gallons daily and with a delivery capacity of, according to TechCity’s environmental statement, 6 million gallons is running on the edge.