Governor Cuomo"We are in a transition again where we have these new problems, new complexities that crop up that we have to adjust to. ... There's now a different type of domestic terrorism, which is this hate-inspired, mass murder by an American - has nothing to do with a foreign entity"
"These white supremacist groups, these white nationalist groups, this hate that breeds on the internet, and then you put that together with an assault weapon and you have 22 dead in a couple of minutes."
"I'm going to do a proposal for a law in the State of New York that basically redefines domestic terrorism."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on Long Island News Radio with Jay Oliver.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Jay Oliver: Lots happening around the island and no better person to discuss with at this point in time and he's part of a special spotlight segment on Long Island as we welcome him back. His name is Andrew Cuomo and he happens to be the Governor of the great State of New York and we say very good morning to him. Governor, how are you?
Governor Cuomo: I'm doing very well. Good morning to you, Jay. A pleasure to be with you.
Jay Oliver: It is great to have you back. Lots happening around. I know you were very active in Hempstead about a week and a half ago, Governor, and you know obviously we have major problems - the gangs and everything else - and I thought it was a pretty good move. You know you get state troopers involved, does not hurt the cause, and certainly help needed in trying to track down criminals, mainly gang members with criminal activity. We have seen an uptick in the area so kind of a well-needed addition you would say.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, I agree with you, Jay. Look, this gang activity you have to watch it and you have to get on it wherever you see it because it spreads. It's like a cancer. And we had a particular problem in Hempstead and Hempstead itself is dealing with a lot of internal issues. So Hempstead, Nassau County, Laura Curran, County Executive who does a great job, and the State all got together, we went we sat down together in Hempstead and we came up with a short-term and a long-term plan.
Short-term we're going to put more police on the street, more Nassau County police, more State troopers, and Hempstead itself is going to put more police and that will make a difference immediately. Police presence works.
Long-term we have to get a more sophisticated policing strategy there. The technology now is very important. Cameras, videos, data to find out where to deploy, so the State will be working with Hempstead on that and we're going to give them a grant to put together a more sophisticated high-tech policing strategy than they now have.
But short-term get police on the streets and that's what we're going to do.
Jay Oliver: And that's what, law enforcement you know they've done a great job. The, the district attorneys on both counties you know, we know about MS-13 and other gangs as well. We've see the arrests unfortunately you know we've see bodies as well. They've been dug up in reserves and woods and wooded areas but certainly this is, this is going to help the situation no question. As we fight it's almost like you can't, Governor, take your foot off the pedal with this stuff.
Governor Cuomo: No, you can't. It's like fire in dry grass, right? And wherever an ember lands if you don't get there right away and stamp it out you have another fire. MS-13 is a scourge. They are a scourge and the more you allow them to operate the more they will spread so my tactic is we're on it, you smother that fire wherever you see it and you send a message to these gangs: we're not going to tolerate it and you think you're going to grow, all you're doing is increasing our response and don't mess with us. And the New York State Police are one of the best police forces in the United States of America and we're working with Nassau County which is a great force and you just have to be on it, Jay.
It's tolerance that is the enemy. They think they can get away with it, they will get away with it. You know it's that simple and we have to push back immediately and say no way, not here. And the MS-13, look this is a sophisticated national and international enterprise and my message is: not in this state. No way.
Jay Oliver: Listen, it was a good move. No question. We're talking with the Governor of the Empire State, Andrew Cuomo. Governor, I thought also, I remember and I'm thinking it was probably in 2004 and 2005, this young girl in Deer Park. I think she was 11 at the time, died in a boating accident seriously injuring her parents as well, sister on board as well, and I thought it was a good move you know to really kind of urging boaters to enroll in some safety courses and Brianna's Law I know that was put out there and really requiring the operators of you know some of these motorized vessels to learn a little bit more about potential dangers on the water. You know we talk all the time about the roads and everything else you know DWI, well DWIs very much present out there, so I thought it was a really good move to really kind of highlight you know the need to learn a little bit more you know whether it be a course, whatever it is, eight hours, 10 hours, whatever it is, but water safety to me is imperative. We have seen so many incidents lately.
Governor Cuomo: Look I'm taking static over this but I feel good about it and I think it's right and I think it will save lives and I think people will get it too. Boating and you know I've been boating all my life and boating has changed over the years. You know when I started out as a kid boats didn't have the same amount of power. I started with a little 14-foot rowboat with like a seven-horse-power engine and puttered around. Boating is a beautiful sport. It's a great tourist activity on Long Island. A lot of people move to Long Island for the experience of boating. My father's brother moved out. He loved boating. He moved to Copake just to get a boat and lived on the canal. It can also be dangerous. And sometimes it takes a tragedy to open our eyes or stimulate activity and action. Brianna's story - Brianna's law is named for Brianna - this is a family that was out boating on a 26-foot boat and were doing everything right. They were not even moving. And another boat comes out of nowhere and goes right over their boat, devastates the family, almost kills the mother and the father, and they lose their daughter. And the parents dedicated themselves to passing a law and they did a beautiful job.
The law. People say, oh here is more government regulation. Look, if you are on the water or your kid is on the water, you want them to know the basics. This is not intuitive. Well, I can drive a car, I can drive a boat. No, it is a different environment. And you have people in these boats, they are not 40 or 50 horsepower anymore, they are 300 horsepower. These guys are going 40, 50 mile per hour. And the South Shore especially, you have to know what you are doing on the South Shore, you know? You have sand bars. The water is tricky. So, an online course where you do it from your home, you do it on your computer, you watch the course, the course has some questions in it. You take the course, the computer spits out a certificate and you are all set. You do not have to go visit anyone. You do not have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles office. Just know what you are doing before you go out there so you do not hurt yourself and you do not hurt anyone else. And my kids were raised on a boat. I wouldn't let them go out there without a basic safety course for themselves.
So, it makes sense. Yes, I have to now take this boating safety course. We phase it in over five years so old guys like me, who believe they know everything already, they don't have to take the course for five years so it is like a refresher. And we start with younger people. But you are right. There are many more boats out there now. They are higher powered. The situation can be dangerous, I can't tell you how many situations I have been in on a boat and I have gone all over. I have gone from Washington, D.C. I have taken boats up to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard. You have to have a basic operating knowledge and it will save lives. I feel good about it.
Jay Oliver: You are right. You are one hundred percent right. Listen, the statistics are there from the U.S. Coast Guard. They give you the numbers and it shows you a reduction as far as accidents and deaths when you have efforts to improve boater safety. So, no question it is a great thing to get in place.
We are talking to the Governor. His name is Andrew Cuomo. Governor, you know obviously the discussion on all levels is about gun control. We saw what happened in El Paso and Dayton a couple of weeks ago and now you have the back and forth, back and forth. Now the big question is what we are going to do about it. What is actually going to occur about this? You hope nothing is not in the mix and you hope something is. You know with recess and everything else in place these hate crimes and look what happened in El Paso, the guy targeting Latinos you know and now you have a back and forth here so the question is - I'll ask it - do you sense something will finally get done. You're the reigns from the State level, you'd like to see this you know as far as on the federal level-type deal and the question is: are we going to be complacent again here? That's always the case unfortunately when these types of situations occur.
Governor Cuomo: Unfortunately, Jay, I think it's going to be political paralysis. We have a political system that is as gridlocked as anything I've ever seen. And look, I am a Democrat but I governed for eight years, we had a Republican Senate and a Democratic Assembly so we have Republicans and we have Democrats in this state and in this state, you want to govern this state, you have to be able to work with Republicans and Democrats and we have very successfully here. We've gotten more budgets passed on time than any governor in modern history. You know not everybody, you're not right all the time. You know? And sometimes if you listen and you compromise you actually learn something and that's how I've governed this state and it's worked.
On the issue of guns, first of all it is a politically polarizing issue and it's a third rail for a lot of politicians and they don't want to go near it and I understand it. We acted in this state after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. Remember the school shooting which was just horrendous? And we passed a common sense law, banned assault weapons, universal background check, because before you buy a gun we have to make sure you're not mentally ill, you're not a felon, and something they call the Red Flag Law, we did six years ago. Gun deaths have gone down in this state - it makes common sense.
Also, by the way, it didn't affect legal gun owners. I own a gun - I understand hunting and the tradition and passing a gun down to your child. So you can do both - you can protect legal gun owners, but make sure mentally ill people, criminals don't have weapons, and you don't need an assault weapon because it's too dangerous. You can't hunt with an assault weapon. You know when you hunt in this state you can't have more than eight shells in the gun, so you don't need an assault weapon. And an assault weapon in the wrong hands - it kills the maximum number of people in the shortest period of time. Police officers can't even get near the person because they can't even unload.
You know the point about the size of the magazine - when a person has to unload, that's when the police officer has a chance to rush in and grab the person while they're unloading - an assault weapon, you don't even have to unload. So there is a common sense path here, and we did it in New York six years ago. I don't believe the nation will do it; I don't believe the president will do it, because in this politically polarized atmosphere, everyone is playing to their extreme base and his extreme base is "don't touch my gun, no how no way, no regulations, etcetera."
The real striking thing about today in my opinion is it's not just guns - it's guns plus hate. There is a hate that is in this society like I have never seen before. And if you look at these mass shootings - yeah, El Paso was anti-Latino; Miami nightclub shooting was anti-LGBTQ, anti-gay; we've had white supremacists who were anti-African American - you know there is an anger out there where we are angry at ourselves, other Americans. "The immigrants, Latinos, the this," and you know, the enemy is within. You know I'm going to do a proposal for a law in the State of New York that basically redefines domestic terrorism. We think of terrorism, Jay, that foreign entities infiltrate America. Yeah, foreign entities radicalize Americans, yes. It comes from the Middle East. It also comes from Middle America. These white supremacist groups, these white nationalist groups, this hate that breeds on the internet, and then you put that together with an assault weapon and you have 22 dead in a couple of minutes.
Jay Oliver: Yeah, that's what it is - you're right. I mean the problem I see two things: You mentioned domestic terrorism - we're talking with the Governor, by the way, Andrew Cuomo - you know I think we have to have more of a definition of that as far as the courts are concerned. Because I was actually listening to a couple of experts stating well really what is domestic terrorism. You know we think of terrorism we think of somebody with pipe bombs and everything else coming from the outside-in, trying to create this type of harm in essence, but I think we have to define it more in the legality of it all. And the second thing is, Governor, you know I think we have to improve the DOJ, because you know you look at some of these incidents, and there are signals out there. You know, you look at the Parkland situation, where enforcement went to that kid's home 43 times - flags raised, and nothing ever done about it. You look at what happened in the El Paso situation with the mother in Allen, Texas alerted authorities because she was concerned about her kid having an assault rifle. And again, inquiries made, nothing ever done about it. There are certain flags that are present, but unless we connect the dots, we're falling short here.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, no, you're exactly right. We are in a transition again where we have these new problems, new complexities that crop up that we have to adjust to. You're right on both points - it is now, we don't, when we say "domestic terrorism," we mean a foreign entity that has infiltrated America and radicalized an American, so Islam, fundamental Islam, has infiltrated, radicalized an American who then creates a terrorist activity in America. 9/11 we refer to as "domestic terrorism" - also could be a foreigner that comes into the country. There's now a different type of domestic terrorism, which is this hate-inspired, mass murder by an American - has nothing to do with a foreign entity - "I'm a white supremacist." Second, you're also right - there have been flags. We passed a law in the State of New York called the Red Flag Law. Family members know, like the mother in Texas, they know they have a family member who might be disturbed, might have a mental health issue, has access to guns - they think there's a real chance something could go bad.
A school teacher, in all of these school shootings, you get a school teacher who says after the fact, "Oh no, I knew something was off and I was afraid and I knew he had a gun." There's nothing for them to do right now. The Red Flag Law says a family member or teacher, go to a judge, present your evidence, if the judge thinks there's a reason they can have a mental health hearing and take a gun from a person.
But you're right, it usually does not come out of the blue, there were normally signs that we did not react to. And this gets back to the whole gun conversation because, you know, there are people who say look, Second Amendment, my gun is sacrosanct. You have no right to question me about this. And what we're saying as a society is, you know what, I think we do. And I think there are some guns that are so dangerous that they fall into the wrong hands, too many people die. And yeah there's a Second Amendment, but if you're mentally ill, you don't have a right to have a gun if you're mentally ill. Society has a right also. And that's the balance that we have to find.
Jay Oliver: You know, you're right, 100 percent. And again, you only hope that you know, cooler heads prevail here and something will actually be done. We're talking with the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Governor, a couple more for you.
Governor Cuomo: Give me one second. There are no cooler heads right now.
Jay Oliver: You're right.
Governor Cuomo: They're all hot heads, so I don't believe you're going to see Congress come back and be reasonable and sit at the table and find a common path between Democrats and Republicans. And that's the real tragedy that after the tragedy, the second tragedy is going to be nothing happens.
Jay Oliver: And Governor, I hate to say it, three letters, NRA. You know, I mean, NRA, when they pop up their ugly heads and everything else when this talk begins people back off. I mean that's just the way it is in politics, right? I mean, it's unfortunate, but true, you know. The backlash, the pushback and everything else, and that's just when you have these conversations halt as far as whatever can be productive. Unfortunately, you know, you look at it, bottom line, that's what happens in a lot of these cases.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, but look, you want to a politician to be a superhero and to take on a politically difficult issue that's going to hurt them. Most politicians, you know, they worry about their political future. I passed what's called the SAFE Act six years ago, right after Sandy Hook, in a bipartisan way. Republicans had to vote for it. In a bipartisan way. I took a beating, a beating, in the polls. Why? Because a lot of people hear that NRA, they get afraid that government is going to come take their gun, if there's any regulation then there's a slippery slope, you know, that whole NRA fear mongering. And I took a beating in the polls. Now look, six years later, I'm proud of what I did. None of those fears came true. Nobody's gun was taken away. But, politically it is a volatile issue and until this nation understands we need some common sense reform, you know, we like to say, "Well the politicians are supposed to lead." I think the people lead and when they change their attitude then the politicians will follow. And that's why talking this through is so important.
Jay Oliver: Very important. We're talking with the Governor here. You know, a big day today Governor, because you know you have this whole thing with the Child Victims Act now can come to fruition. You signed it, well needed, I know it was banging about for a long time, but the bottom line is that it is in place. And I guess you're going to have a ton of cases triggered by this, probably one of the more important pieces of legislation that we have discussed in recent time. But, it's good to see, you know, and I've had so many experts on this program and people, it took a long time, for obvious reasons, to bring this to the attention of many. And this particular piece of legislation will improve those types of deals by bringing people to justice. And I think it was well needed, really.
Governor Cuomo: Well look, it was another contentious issue. Child sexual abuse is a real epidemic. And it's been in the corners and in the shadows, but it is much more widespread than people want to admit. And for people who've been sexually abused as a child, I can't tell you, Jay, how many people I've sat with and they brought me to tears because there's no resolution, there's no justice, they just live with it. And they live with the guilt, and the shame and the pain. And they had no voice because they were a child.
What this says is if you were sexually abused as a child, you do have a right to justice and to make your case. And I think for many people it will bring closure and resolution. I think it will send a message to society, just because they're a child and they don't have an attorney and they can't walk into court, they're not as vulnerable as you think. They have legal rights and if you abuse a child you're going to have your day in court and you're going to be called to answer for it. And I believe that can have a chilling effect on those people who abuse children. So, it's basic justice and it's right and it also causes us to acknowledge - which has been the theme of a lot of these issues - acknowledge the issue.
We have a society where some people abuse children sexually and that's been going on for decades with virtual immunity. No more.
Jay Oliver: Listen, it's about time, you know. I don't want to hear about insurance companies, I don't want to hear about the Catholic Church or anything else. Everybody's afraid. Well guess what? Now it's open for business and that all starts today. One more I'll bring up to you before we have to let you go. And that is, I thought it was important when the news came out yesterday - hate crimes. I know we talk about the swastikas, the nooses, and everything but now there's going to be, it's part of the education system. I like what happened in Nassau yesterday they're taking the reins here and I think education is key here, just like education on what's going on with our drug problem. Having kids learn about fentanyl and what's dangerous. Here the same kind of deal, but we know it exists, you mentioned it and quite frankly I think kids need to know at a very early age and I think it was important to put that into the system.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, I think that's right. I look at these issues and in many ways it is about educating the people because the political system moves when the citizenry is informed and they demand action. And so many of these situations are old and we haven't talked about them and we denied them for a lot of years. And it's going to start with the young people whether it's drugs, or terrorism or stereotyping and prejudice, whatever.
It all starts with educating the young so they're smarter than we are and they make better choices then we did, right. Cause what the heck is the point of all of this right? I'm 62 years old, I've been around the road, I have kids who are just starting on the road and I want it to be a better road for them. That's why I do what I do you know, otherwise I'd be out there fishing. How do we make it better for them? And a big part of that is making them better than us and smarter and more informed and more educated so they don't make the same mistakes we did. And they're better prepared for it.
So in all of these things there's a duality. I was talking to my daughters about the boating law and I told them you have to take a course. They said well I've been boating since I was three-years-old, yeah but you don't know what you don't know. And you take the course and you're smarter for it. But it's true all across the board. Try to solve the problem. Our political system is nowhere near what it should be. We're arguing with each other, it's emotional there's no logic. We get very little done frankly, compared to the magnitude of the problems. At least, let's educate the kids so that they do a better job then we did.
Jay Oliver: No doubt. Hopefully, hopefully down the road we can say we've learned a lot and we'll certainly be better off. Cannot thank you enough for your appearance here this morning. Good to always have you. You know that right?
Governor Cuomo: It's good to be with you and I'll tell you one thing to talk about next time. We just approved the Belmont development at the old Belmont track. The Islanders are coming back to the Island and I can't tell you how excited I am. That's going to be a billion dollar development, Jay. Entertainment complex, but the Islanders coming back to Long Island. Which to me is really such a metaphor for the resurgence of Long Island and the identity of Long Island. So we pass that through the corporation the State Economic Development Corporation last week and we're going to get a shovel in the ground and that's going to be exciting too and that's just pure good news and it didn't take a tragedy.
Jay Oliver: You know something, that's a great way to end it. I was going to bring that up. By the way, I was going to ask you about your baseball affiliation last time we had you on. Are you an Islanders fan? A Rangers fan? What did you grow up as?
Governor Cuomo: See I grew up in Eastern Queens, right. I was right on the Nassau border of Queens. So, and my family, most of my family - my uncles, aunts - they all moved out to the Island, so I was Island oriented. I was the Nassau Coliseum, Dr. Jay, right, the Islanders. When you grew up in that part of Queens, going into the city - the city was still the city. I used to say 'the city' and people say to me, 'you can't say the city' because there are a lot of cities. But New York City was the city. And going into New York City to go see the Rangers, that was a whole enterprise to go into the city.
My parents would say you have to plan this for days before you take that trek. So, I was more oriented toward the Island. I was in the back yard of Shea Stadium. So it was Mets, Nets, Jets. It was very simple. Now, I'm Governor and politically correct, so it's all New York teams. All New York teams all the time.
Jay Oliver: There you go. Including those Buffalo Sabres. We'll keep an eye on the World Series. Hey, listen, great stuff as always and we look forward to the next time, how's that?
Governor Cuomo: Thanks, Jay. My pleasure.