July 5, 2020
Albany, NY

Senior Advisor to the Governor Richard Azzopardi Issues Letter in Response to the Watertown Daily Times' June 24 Editorial

TOP Senior Advisor to the Governor Richard...

Letter from Senior Advisor Rich Azzopardi to the Watertown Daily Times in Response to June 24 Editorial

WYSIWYG
We’ve read your June 24th editorial.
 
As Governor Cuomo likes to say, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts (quoting Senator Moynihan).
 
You say that the Governor’s COVID emergency powers somehow precluded legislative action. That is factually untrue. The law that authorized the Emergency Orders specifically provided they could be reversed by the Legislature at any time by a simple legislative resolution, which would not be subject to a Governor’s veto. The state budget could also be enacted by any legislative action. The Legislature has convened several times since the Governor has enacted his Executive Orders and has passed numerous bills, but has not changed any of the Governor’s Executive Orders.
 
Please also appreciate the legal consequences of the "good government" groups’ request of pulling back the Governor's emergency powers in the middle of a global pandemic. What would we do without the order on masks and social distancing? Without the executive order, all business across the state would immediately reopen? Insurance companies would no longer need to pay for COVID testing? Hospitals would no longer need to accept indigent coronavirus patients? Quarantine orders would be abandoned? That is neither good nor government; that is anarchy in the midst of a pandemic. Nor is this pandemic over, as anyone reading the news well knows. No Governor in the nation has had his or her emergency powers revoked. It would be malpractice by a legislator. And it is especially ironic as New York State has been heralded as the nation's model of pandemic management and Governor Cuomo's leadership is widely supported across the state and the nation.
 
It is even more bizarre when one understands that the Legislature always has the power to revoke any executive order the Governor signs at any time by a simple vote of the Legislature without the Governor's signature. If the Governor's emergency declaration was withdrawn then the federal order by President Trump would be in effect. As verified in every single poll, the people of New York are very pleased with Gov. Cuomo's leadership. The insurance companies and pharmaceuticals and tort lawyers may not be pleased but that is a different topic and is why we have asked the "good government" groups to reveal their donors which they have always refused to do. Who do they represent? Shouldn't we know? This is not a time in history to take irresponsible or uninformed actions. "Good government" is not a tag line during this crisis but the difference between life and death for many.
 
You suggest that certain regions of the state should have had different “stay at home” orders. What order do you think should be in effect? Even with the benefit of hindsight, no economist or healthcare expert has suggested an alternative regional plan. New York’s phased reopening has proven to be a national success as it has increased economic activity while saving thousands of lives. Lax or misguided reopening plans by other states have resulted in lost lives and economic damage all across the nation. Today, 30 states see an increase in cases and hospitalizations, there are reversals in the stock market due to COVID spread, while New York leads the nation.
 
You say the Governor should have taken additional actions in NYC airports. The State has no legal authority to exercise any border control. That is a purely Federal jurisdiction. The Governor has said that the Federal government should have banned Europeans coming to New York much earlier.
 
On the New York City subway system, you say the Governor should have done more. The MTA is now disinfecting the entire subway system. This has never been done in history. Up until now, the MTA couldn’t even effectively clean subway cars, much less disinfect them. Disinfection required new technology, chemicals and equipment to be researched and deployed. This was done in a remarkably short period of time.
 
You suggest the Governor refused to exempt out of state workers from income tax. The Governor never opposed such an idea.
 
You are right that millions of viewers across the world tuned in to Governor Cuomo’s briefings. However, it is not only because they were disinterested in President Trump’s briefings, but because they heard the facts and analysis from Governor Cuomo over hundreds of hours through a historic crisis and found his information credible and intelligent. They also had many other sources of information available on electronic and print journalism.
The Governor’s briefings were unfiltered, and people supported them because facts matter and credibility matters. Maybe there is a lesson for all of us in that.
 
Rich Azzopardi
Senior Advisor to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo​
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