Editor’s corner: An empire that’s on thin ice
Politically speaking, Warren and Chautauqua counties are not all that different. Separated by a state line, both face many of the same frustrations.
A majority of the residents who lean right politically are being overseen by a state Democratic governor. Going one step further, both counties voted heavily for former U.S. President Donald Trump but the Electoral College votes from the state went to President Joe Biden.
What’s worth watching here, which has become dramatic theater in the Empire State, also could have an impact on Pennsylvania. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been using his granted emergency powers since last March, is feeling the heat. Cuomo’s administration both hid — and were slow to report — COVID-19 deaths that occurred in the nursing homes during the early stages of the pandemic.
This hot-button issue exploded when the state’s attorney general released the report in late January. In recent weeks, the Cuomo administration has since revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.
Since then, no matter how much Cuomo tries to deflect blame to the federal government, it just keeps getting worse. Most recently, some Democrats from the Assembly have said Cuomo has made threats. Most vocal is Assemblyman Ron Kim from Queens.
Kim told The New York Times and CNN on Wednesday that Cuomo called him on the phone Feb. 11 to shout at him about his comments on the nursing home issue. “He goes off about how I hadn’t seen his wrath and anger, that he would destroy me and he would go out tomorrow and start telling how bad of a person I am and I would be finished and how he had bit his tongue about me for months,” Kim told The New York Times. “This was all yelling. It wasn’t a pleasant tone.”
Why this matters to Pennsylvania regards the urgency of the emergency powers, those also being held on to by Gov. Tom Wolf. There’s no question our nation is in crisis, but if Cuomo — who was hailed in the springtime as a savior by many throughout the nation — is abusing power, how much of that is going on now here?
COVID-19 has scared many — and up until the last two weeks, virus infections were a problem here and everywhere else. Current numbers, however, have subsided.
Emergency powers have not. This virus is still to be taken seriously, but do we really need state governors continuing to call the shots? Especially if, in these edicts, we are possibly not being told everything?
Look no further than New York state to see how that has played out.
John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to email@example.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.