New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (307411)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

“Governor Cuomo’s resignation was despicable, dishonest, and disgraceful,” slammed Assemblyman Charles Barron and Councilmember Inez Barron in a joint statement. “He continues to be in pathological denial of any wrongdoing, as he shamefully blames the victims for his disgusting behavior.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned Tuesday afternoon (August 10, 2021), a decision that was inevitable given the weight of 168 pages of Attorney General Letitia James’ report, the credible testimony of 11 women and their allegations of sexual harassment as well as a criminal complaint filed by one of his aides. And this may be only the beginning of the charges against the three-term governor, his legacy severely damaged.

Once the report was released lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, in the state and elsewhere, including President Biden, began calling for Cuomo to step down, prompting a defiant resistance from Cuomo as he repeatedly declared there was no wrongdoing on his part. But there was no place to run to, no place to hide once his attorney Rita Glavin failed to deflect the powerful allegations against him.

“I think women should be believed and treated fairly,” she began, “…and the governor deserves to be treated fairly.”

Her defense rang with irony and hypocrisy since it was the governor who signed legislation for new workplace harassment protections two years ago. At that time he announced, “There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act.” In effect, he was snared in the traps he set for others.

Ultimately his inference that he did not understand the details of the law he signed carried no weight. He has two more weeks in office. Wall-to-wall news coverage had political talking heads, news anchors, and members of the public denouncing what was judged by many as a self-serving, if not narcissistic resignation speech. He again inferred that his alleged victims simply misunderstood his touching, his embraces, his touches, and permission-free kisses. He spoke of the great progressive work he thought he had done, and he offered something of a mea culpa to his three daughters whom he said also had to sit through the misinformation about him.

As part of his resignation and apologia, he told his daughters that his “greatest goal is for them to have a better future than the generations of women before them.”

“His lawyer preceded his comments by categorically attacking the testimonies of all 11 women who were the victims of the governor’s deplorable behavior,” said the Barrons.

“He then proceeded to deny that he did anything wrong, and that it was a case of ‘generational and cultural lines moving.’ He said that if he made anyone feel uncomfortable, that he was ‘sorry.’ Really, Governor!”

The disturbing behaviors detailed in the attorney general’s report mean that “he still faces possible civil and criminal charges.”

While Channel 7 ABC news pondered out loud on Tuesday afternoon that Kathy Hochul will be the governor now, in a press statement, Attorney General Letitia James said, “Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York. But it’s an important step towards justice. I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. … We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”

Hochul will be the state’s first female governor and will probably run for the full term in 2022. She had been praised for taking a stand with the women accusers, noting, “I believe these brave women,” adding that the governor’s behavior was “repulsive and unlawful.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo said that Hochul was “smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant, and so should you be, but she comes up to speed quickly.”

Again there was an element of irony about the pandemic since the governor had gained considerable cache and traction with his daily report, so much so that he was being touted for a future presidential run. All of that, like one of his predecessor’s Eliot Spitzer, is a smoke dream gone with the wind.

Attorney Casilda Roper-Simpson said, “Governor Cuomo as he resigned boldly stated…‘it is still in many ways a man’s world. It always has been,’ it was attention-grabbing to hear that spoken out loud. Well, he resigned based on the ‘sincere complaints’ of women he sexually harassed—[detailed in a report by] a woman attorney general, and being replaced by the first female governor. No, sir, it was a ‘man’s world’—now three women are in power, Lt. Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Attorney General Letitia James. Girl Power!”

President Biden, who joined a chorus asking Cuomo to resign, said, “I respect the governor’s decision, and I respect the decision he made. He’s done a hell of a job. Everything from access to voting to infrastructure to [a] whole range of things. That’s why it’s so sad.”

“Andrew Cuomo has only ever been interested in his own interests,” blasted Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in a statement. “As a result of his forced resignation, state government can now work solely for the people of New York. Resignation does not undo the harm he inflicted on the women who came forward. Nor does it reduce the damage that his abusive governance has long wrought. But it creates an opportunity to begin to recover.”

Williams added, “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and I have disagreed in the past about the direction of our state and its leadership. At the same time, in assuming this role, we need her to stabilize New York in a perilous moment and against an incessant volley of crises, and I—as we all should be—am ready to work with her to recover from this pandemic and rebuild New York.”

Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman presented a hopeful future perspective: “Andrew Cuomo’s resignation from his role as New York State governor allows the Democratic Party to identify and support candidates in time for next year’s election. However, it does not guarantee that women will be free from harassment in the workplace. Our work going forward is to educate the public about the laws and penalties regarding sexual harassment and create safe spaces for people to realize the power of their voices and to report abuses as they happen. Additionally, we must work to repair our trust in government and in our officials to investigate and prosecute all alleged perpetrators irrespective of fame or stature.”

Many critics of the Cuomo administration insist that his resignation does not obliterate some of his other misdeeds, including the closing of hospitals and nursing homes, his misinformation on the casualty rate during the peak of the pandemic, and sundry other charges.

It’s not clear at press time whether the impeachment process will go forward, but observers noted that with the state mired in so many issues from COVID-era problems to nationwide concerns, this is still a sad New York story.

The New York Working Families Party urged, “The legislature to address the urgent issues facing working New Yorkers across our state, including record rates of homelessness, the slow disbursement of rent relief and the Excluded Workers’ Fund, and deep inequities in health care.”

The WFP continued, “Resignation does not equal accountability. We will also urge the legislature to continue with impeachment proceedings so that Andrew Cuomo never again holds elected office.”

NYC-DSA, NYC Democratic Socialists, a local of Democratic Socialists of America, stated, “From his fealty to billionaires and the real estate lobby to his countless corruption scandals, Andrew Cuomo has shown time and time again the lack of basic empathy required to hold public office. He has sought power for his own egotistical means and governed without any regard for the people of this state. New York will be better off without Andrew Cuomo.”

NYC-DSA added that the resignation was a “result of the combined pressure of organized labor as well as the progressive and socialist movements. Since March, we have been proud to stand with unions, our socialist elected comrades, and progressive allies in demanding justice. 
Andrew Cuomo has been the greatest roadblock to progress in this state for the last decade. That roadblock has finally been cleared. Free universal health care, housing justice for all, and a Green New Deal for New York are within our grasp.”

State Senator Kevin Parker told the Amsterdam News, “Everything about the situation resulting in the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo is regrettable. It is regrettable, as the details in the attorney general’s report have revealed, how Governor Cuomo had so many incidents of unacceptable behavior toward women. It is regrettable the accusers—now 11 of them—have had to experience and live with the negative impact of something no woman should be put through. It is regrettable the governor’s record of doing his best for New York State is now stained by the tears and pain of his accusers and the accounts of his unacceptable behavior. Sexual harassment is serious and unacceptable no matter whatever other good things the accused may have done. I do appreciate how even at his last breath Governor Cuomo has now done the best thing for New York State by resigning, and I look forward to working with our next governor, Kathy Hochul, to keep doing the business of the people of New York.”

Hochul will definitely have to hit the ground running.

Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum emphasized, “New York’s reopening and recovery hinge on the vitality of our public transit system. New Yorkers need Governor Hochul to implement congestion pricing fully and fairly, restore more frequent train and bus service for millions of daily riders, and equitably transform how the MTA delivers for the communities that depend on transit the most.”

“Andrew Cuomo harmed and wronged countless New Yorkers across the state, especially tenants in low-income communities of color. Kathy Hochul must move aggressively to chart a new and better course for New York,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change. “She should immediately extend the eviction moratorium that has saved many thousands of lives over the past year, and fast-track COVID rent relief funds that Cuomo failed to put in the hands of New Yorkers struggling for survival. In this time of crisis, Hochul must be a leader for tenants and communities hit hardest by COVID, and not capitulate to real-estate developers and Wall Street firms that want to put profit ahead of saving lives.”

The Barrons warned though, “Don’t dance in the streets yet because Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was at Gov. Cuomo’s side during the presentation of his budgets that helped the rich and hurt the poor, during the deadly nursing home scandal, sexual harassment charges and she remained silent. We know who we are getting rid of, but beware of who you may be getting! The struggle continues.”

Already the names of possible 2022 gubernatorial candidates being mentioned include A.G James, Hochul herself, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Hillary Clinton, and current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.