June 2, 2015 - New York City - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul attend a screening at Lincoln Center of "The Hunting Ground" a new documentary highlighting the epidemic of sexual violence at colleges and university nationwide. Also present at the screening were the founders of End Rape on Campus, Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, who are survivors of sexual assault while students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)

The New York Times Finally Gets It. Hochul’s Reforms Are All Hot Air


Governor Kathy Hochul’s reforms for New York State, let fly in the wake of Andrew Cuomo’s exit, were meaningless. The lofty rhetoric never got close to fruition and may never have had any chance at all. We saw it on a small scale on Roosevelt Island, and now, the often distracted Times is getting it too.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Early in an article chastizing Hochul about failing on reforms concerning ethics and sexual harassment reforms, the Times said this: “The failure to strengthen the ethics and sexual harassment training falls in line with a pattern of Ms. Hochul’s having struggled to bring about a “dramatic change in culture” in Albany…”

We couldn’t agree more.

Down to Earth on Hochul’s Reforms

Our hopes soared on Roosevelt Island when Hochul stood up after Cuomo’s dizzying demise.

Along with ethics reform, she pledged a quick pivot to transparency and accountability. In fact, she demanded a transparency plan from every state agency and department.

Frustrated by RIOC President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes’s deep retreat into his Blackwell House bunker, we saw some political light shine through.

But, alas, it turned out to be Exhibit #1 in which RIOC and the governor’s Executive Chamber in Albany are simpatico.

The sorry state of New York State government, top to bottom, is that it’s not about doing the right things; it’s about appearing to do so.

Remember how George W. Bush took office billed as a “compassionate conservative?” In office, he was nothing of the kind, but Republicans had learned a lesson. Nobody was buying the elitist crap they had to sell. So, sell something else, something the people want, then do your elitist crap anyway.

Democrats got it. Remember the Obama theme? That vehicle ran on “Hope,” not gas. And although Obama was a better president and man than Bush by far, he struggled because hope has no substance. He could never live up to an empty notion.

That’s how Hochul got stuck too but in a cynical way.

Ethics, Transparency, Accountability

It’s hard to imagine an administration failing as fully on all three virtues as the Hochul/Haynes administration has. Not only did RIOC – and, as the Times article suggests, the rest of the state – carry on with Cuomo’s polluted politics, they took them even further.

As the Times points out, Hochul failed almost right out of the gate with a backroom deal pouring millions into a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. (Full disclosure: As a longtime Buffalo Bills fan, I loved the deal but hated how it was handled.)

The collapse of Hochul’s reforms on Roosevelt Island was hinted at almost immediately. Although the Executive Chamber, charged with implementing the governor’s policies, is in daily contact with RIOC, nothing changed.

In fact, the bunker hardened around Seldom Seen Haynes as he cleaned out employees who failed to “kiss the ring” in a wholesale purge.

An accountable state servant would step up and make his case, answer media inquiries and take criticism like a seasoned professional. Haynes, who granted himself raises setting his salary higher than any governor in the U.S., did none of that. In an administration hobbled by cronyism, he rewarded that too.

But the most glaring example of incompetence reached Hochul’s Albany team more than a year ago. Instead of the detailed transparency plan promised, Haynes drafted a ridiculous word salad that sits there, never completed, today.

The possible conclusions are:

  1. Hochul’s Executive Chamber gave up, concluding Haynes could not do any better, or…
  2. They never really cared about all those reform promises in the first place.

And here we are on the final day of the first month of 2023 with not one thing in Roosevelt Island – or New York State’s – governance any better than it was on the day Cuomo was ushered out the door.

At least, the New York Times awakened to the deflating failures we’ve seen for over a year. But with the next election three years away, this will not influence Hochul for two more years.

That’s when the marketing campaign resumes. In the meantime, it’s the same old, same old Hochul/Haynes regime for Roosevelt Island and New York State.

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