Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cuomo "On Edge" And "Obsessed With Fear" As Criminal Probe Into Albany Corruption Continues

Two interesting pieces about Cuomo's ethics problems out this morning, pre-blizzard, for your enjoyment.

First, Fred Dicker on how Cuomo is "freaked out, furious and obsessed with fear " over the Moreland investigations into corruption carried on by US Attorney Preet Bharara:

Gov . Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious” over the bombshell criminal charges dropped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week — and “obsessed with fear’’ because of the ongoing federal corruption probe.

One source described Cuomo as “doubly enraged’’ by hard-driving Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s decision to bring the five criminal corruption charges against Silver just hours after the governor delivered his State of the State address — and then, less than 24 hours after that, to indict Albany’s “three men in a room’’ culture in which Cuomo is the lead player.

“Cuomo feels Preet just walked all over him,’’ said the source.

Knowledgeable insiders, including law-enforcement experts, said it wasn’t accidental that Bharara brought the charges against Silver just hours after Cuomo’s State of the State.

“Prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and when they time a high-profile arrest in a way that steps all over Cuomo’s speech, that’s the use of discretion for a purpose,’’ a former federal prosecutor told The Post.

And several sources described Cuomo — who along with his aides is being investigated by Bharara over the abrupt disbanding of the governor’s Moreland Act commission on public corruption — as “on edge’’ over Bharara’s ominous statement Friday that the public should “stay tuned’’ for more criminal charges to come.

“Andrew’s been working the phones day and night, staying up into the early morning hours, making hundreds of calls in one day trying to find out what the hell is going on,’’ a source close to the governor said.

Cuomo, who has retained a private lawyer, has enlisted several former federal and state-level prosecutors with ties to Bharara’s office including Steve Cohen, his former chief-of-staff, in an effort to find out Bharara’s next move, the sources said.

“He’s freaked-out, furious, and obsessed with fear, it’s like a nightmare for him. The whole narrative he laid out for his second term has been derailed by Bharara,’’ said a source in regular contact with the governor.

“The narrative has been taken over by Bharara and it’s all about Albany’s corruption, not Cuomo and his program for the state,’’ the source said.

State political circles are abuzz with speculation that Bharara is seeking to determine if Cuomo had any knowledge of Silver’s allegedly illegal outside income last spring when he agreed with Silver and Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos to fold the commission.

Next, Blake Zeff on why the Silver arrest has Cuomo "tongue-tied":

As everyone knows, the governor’s much-hyped Moreland Commission was looking into the issue of Silver’s outside income just as Cuomo disbanded it. And if U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hadn't pressed the issue, none of the alleged criminal activity related to that income would have come to light at all.

If Cuomo does his usual thing, condemning the speaker's behavior and using it to talk about how badly he wants good government, he will be admitting that the investigatory work he shut down was important, and that his decision to disband it was premature (and potentially helped shield a crime).
What’s more, given that Cuomo is being investigated by the same prosecutor now looking to put Silver in prison, the governor will not want to give the speaker any additional incentive to provide information about others.

It's a real political dilemma.

Cuomo can't remain silent on Silver, who the governor was touting in a budget address just a day before the arrest as his partner in government. He'd be abandoning his public role as a reformer, risking his credibility on an issue that is vital to his carefully crafted brand.

But Cuomo can't really talk convincingly—or even coherently—about Silver's alleged misbehavior at this point, either.

Asked by the News editorial board how Silver’s arrest reflects on his decision to shut down the Moreland commission, Cuomo reportedly said, “If anything, it vindicates what happened.”

He suggested that the arrest showed that the best way for the investigation to proceed was always through the federal prosecutor’s office, rather than the state commission. Cuomo was trying to argue, in other words, that shutting down the investigation of an alleged crime helped get it uncovered.
This line, clearly, doesn't work. And at the moment, no matter what happens with Silver, it's not clear that any line will.

Cuomo likes to talk about ethics reform. It’s always worked for him, and has been a big, crucial part of his brand.

But as Cuomo learned after the Moreland Commission shutdown, when he twisted himself in knots trying to explain how his "independent" ethics body was actually no such thing, talking about the indefensible can be worse than not talking at all.

Many teachers who listened to Cuomo bring the rhetorical hammer down on us last Wednesday wondered about the political timing of Shelly Silver's arrest the next morning, given that Silver was expected to be the only (slight) impediment to Cuomo's agenda.

It seemed too convenient that in the year Cuomo is shoving through an aggressive education reform agenda even though he won an anemic re-election and doesn't have the same political muscle he's had in the past, the biggest impediment to that agenda got arrested on corruption charges just as the legislative session was getting under way.

But stories leaking out today suggest Cuomo is not happy at all with Bharara's stealing his thunder last week by arresting Silver the day after his State of the State/budget address and is worried that Silver's arrest may mean problems for him down the line.

Dicker's got it out for Cuomo, so he's deliberately using phrases like "on edge," "freaked-out and furious" and "obsessed with fear" to try and damage Cuomo further than he already has been by seeing Silver arrested on corruption charges related to the Moreland Commission Cuomo himself shut down in a deal with Silver for an on-time budget.

Nonetheless, as Blake Zeff points out in his piece, Cuom's relative silence over the Silver matter shows just how troubled he is over it.


  1. I hope these reports are true, and that Cuomo's liver stews in bile, and his head explodes in fear. At least teachers could get some minor satisfaction from that.

    On the other hand, if Bharara really wanted to steal Cuomo's thunder, wouldn't he have announced Shelley's indictment before the State of the State speech?

    While I hope to be pleasantly surprised by witnessing an indictment of our Reptilian Governor by the US Attorney's office, keep in mind that Bharara got his start working for Chuck Schumer, the Senator from Wall Street, and has to date indicted zero Wall Street big shots for systemic fraud leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, instead distracting the public by going after chump change insider trading cases.

    Cuomo is Wall Street's Boy, and until an actual indictment is returned, I'd wager that he's going to be given a pass, so he can pursue the opportunity to destroy the public schools on behalf of his patrons.

    1. Yeah, I agree with you, Michael. I'm skeptical about all of this. Nonetheless, Cuomo has handled the Silver arrest much differently than other Albany arrests. That may have as much to do with his needing to wait to see what happens to Silver before hammering him - or it could be, as Dicker says, he's worried Silver's going to dish dirt on him.

      We'll see.

  2. So if Cuomo was in fact indicted, how do you think that impacts his education reforms? Do they just get jammed through anyway?

    1. If anything comes of this, I think it will happen after the budget. The reforms will already be through.

      But I really don't expect anything to come of this.

      Hope I'm wrong.

      But I'm a cynic.

  3. Seriously RBE, what are the realistic chances of reforming the evaluations to 50% counting on testing? Is this a real possibility or is this a high number with a realistic negotiation lowering it?

    1. With Silver in place pre-arrest, it was probably a high mark that could've been lowered for negotiation.

      It still mght be.

      But given the mess of the tests (take a look at today/tomorrow/Wed, for example), does it matter much if it's 50% or "just" 40% but an automatic "ineffective" if you're "ineffective" on that 40%?

    2. My guess is that 50% is a little "gift" of wiggle room to Mulgrew, either tacit or explicit ,so that when 40% of the evaluations are based solely on state exams, our faux Tough Guy can claim that the UFT fought off much worse.

  4. Run, run run away. Oh oh oh, run run away!

  5. Is the rule really 2 years of "Ineffectives" in a row and you get terminated? Is this really a rule? This obviously hasn't happened to anyone yet but I'm curious if this is true. How does it work? Is it automatic? Do you get your 2nd "I" and then not report to work? Teachers are confused of the rules regarding this. No one really knows. I think it's a scare tactic. How the heck can you get terminated from a union job after 20+ years of service with tenure?

    1. Two consecutive Ineffectives gives the district the right to an expedited 3020-a. At which point the burden of proof is on the teacher and not the district.

      Cuomo's initiatives want to make all 3020-a's that way. It still (currently) is a district decision, although if they want to get rid of you, there is no better opportunity.

      Guilty until proven innocent....