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Giving The Governor His Due

As readers of this column know, I have from time-to-time been critical of Governor Cuomo, especially of his opposition to natural gas … a critical energy source if we are going to protect the reliability of the electric grid and provide fuel for home heating needs.

But, right now, such disagreements must wait for another time. He has become the face of New York in confronting the coronavirus epidemic, and in that role, we need “to give the governor his due.”

As in Washington where we only have one President at a time, so it is at the state level with one governor at a time. The epicenter of the pandemic (up until now) has been New York City and the suburbs around it, including Long Island. Governor Cuomo is the point man, he is the general-in-charge in the field, and he is leading.

He has quickly become a student of the danger of this disease and he is marshalling forces to confront it. It is clear that the country was unprepared for this, like we have been for many of our national challenges. (Think of where we were at the start of World War II.) We don’t have enough tests, masks or ventilators — the basic stuff needed to fight such an epidemic. Governor Cuomo’s job, in New York, has been to try to focus the resources available and then build hospital capacity as fast as he can.

Though he now says they won’t be needed, he earlier announced that he was going to transfer ventilators from Upstate regions into the metro area. As a New Yorker, I have no problem with this as long as we retain a baseload to deal with our immediate problems at the local level. We are probably going to need a “rolling” supply chain of ventilators and medical supplies of all kinds across the country as the disease ebbs and surges. Oregon, and recently China, sent some more ventilators to New York. In like manner, we may need to pitch in when some other parts of the country (or world) get hit with it.

I also give the Governor credit for his straightforwardness in dealing President Trump on the crisis. They are both from Queens and grew up on the grist of tough city living. On many issues, they are often miles apart, but relative to the COVID-19 crisis they have been working together to confront the overwhelming challenge to the health system in New York.

On top of everything going on in the city and suburbs, the governor has also had to deal with a new state budget. It is obvious that, with the virus pandemic, there is going to be less money going into the state’s coffers. Since the state of New York does not print money (like the federal government can,) there is going to have to be a combination of spending restraint and likely more taxes in the short term in order for the state to balance its budget.

There will be more “weeping and gnashing of teeth” than usual this year in the State Capitol as the budget develops. But, as to the coronavirus pandemic — right now, we have a smart, articulate, empathetic, tough guy by the name of Cuomo “running the show” and that is a good thing.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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