I think everyone will concede that the summer went by too quickly. But despite the speed at which two months have passed, the world around us continued to function, and both good and bad things happened. In this short period of time, New Yorkers have seen the resignation of their governor and our first major storm experience. The weeks and months ahead will no doubt present us with new challenges.
We have a new governor, Kathy Hochul, who has hit the ground running, and established herself as a major political figure. She has appointed a number of highly experienced staff members, and will make many more changes in order to erase the Cuomo footprint. Her new head of the Department of Financial Services is Adrienne Harris, who has worked as a special assistant to the White House and a senior adviser in the U.S. Treasury Department. DFS is a complex agency, and needs a level-headed leader.
Hochul has not been reluctant to wade into controversial areas. She has signed an executive order to require masks in all schools, and is pushing hard to get unvaccinated New Yorkers to get their shots as soon as possible. She called a special session of the Legislature to extend the eviction moratorium and also to move forward on the legalization of marijuana. Up to this point, the state had done a miserable job of distributing federal funds to New Yorkers who are behind on their rent.
Like many appointed public officials who plan to seek election to their new positions, she has a short time to establish herself as a strong governor, in the hope that she can ward off a 2022 primary challenge. The legislative leaders are making a sincere attempt to work with her, many out of relief that the Cuomo era is over. But time will tell whether they can work as an effective team, because Albany is a place where egos can collide on a moment’s notice.
While many of us were lounging on a beach or escaping on a golf course, politicians around the country were doing loads of mischief. Despite the fact that at least six states were all but drowning in Covid cases thanks to the Delta variant, their governors were busy banning mask mandates and telling everyone to make believe the disease had disappeared. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state is racking up new cases, is actively battling school districts and cruise lines, who are just trying to keep people of all ages from getting sick.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.