The governor, a longtime mechanic with a penchant for fast cars and motorcycles, told state officials to purchase four "high-axle" rescue trucks to be assigned to the State Police and posted at security facilities and airports around the state, ready for his use on a moment's notice.
Yet there's no record that the vehicles have been used to rescue anyone, or are even suitable for that purpose. Their effectiveness in floodwaters and snowstorms is also questionable, according to two former officials in the state's Homeland Security office.
The International trucks are two-wheel drive and have low ground clearance that makes them vulnerable to washing away in the very types of floods that threatened Cuomo's vehicle four years ago, an official said.
"It was all an exercise in futility," the former official said, declining to be identified out of concern of antagonizing the governor. "No matter what you did, those trucks weren't going to clear 30 inches of snow or 25 inches of water. There was concern expressed to the governor — because of the high center of gravity and low clearance — that in running water those trucks could turn over, and none of that was received well."
The trucks purchased after the 2011 tropical storms were dubbed "All-Weather Response Coordination" vehicles in a "guidelines document" drafted by the executive branch. The document said the goal was "to ensure that New York state has the standing capability to access areas where normal vehicular traffic access is challenged or denied by weather or post-disaster conditions in order to support state executive coordination with county/local executives and public safety officials, as well as support the extrication of persons affected by the incident as needed," according to guidelines drafted by the state.
But those trucks have low beds that make them unsafe to transport anyone not lying down, and performed so poorly in snow that DOT officials installed ballast to increase traction.
In February 2013, a nor'easter dubbed Nemo by meteorologists dumped more than two feet of snow on eastern Long Island. One of the governor's all-weather rescue trucks was being "repositioned" for use by Cuomo in the wake of the storm when it became stuck in the heavy snow. It had to be pulled free by a midsized communications van with a winch and was not used that day, according to a former Homeland Security official.
Here's a photo of Governor Cuomo's rescue vehicle being itself rescued:
So once again, we have Governor Cuomo micromanaging something - in this case, "All Weather Response Coordination" (i.e., purchasing state vehicles) - doing it badly, then refusing to listen to others when he's told he he's wrong ("There was concern expressed to the governor — because of the high center of gravity and low clearance — that in running water those trucks could turn over, and none of that was received well.")
This is emblematic for the Cuomo administration education policies too.
Told over and over again his APPR teacher evaluation system is garbage and the state tests junk, he doubles down on both for a "strengthened" teacher evaluation system.
We're going to need a rescue vehicle for schools after Cuomo gets done with them, just as Cuomo's rescue vehicles need rescue themselves when it, you know, snows.