Photo Credit: Marc Gronich
Retiring Assemblyman Walter Mosley at the COJO Breakfast in 2018.

For the past two months, every day we move closer to Election Day, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been ramping up his criticism of President Donald Trump for what the Queens democrat said “is going to be one of the great governmental derelictions of duty and responsibility” when it comes to the federal response to the handling of the coronavirus.

Cuomo has been befuddled as to why Trump, a Florida republican, won’t strongly and passionately embrace wearing masks.

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“Even if you don’t believe you can control the virus why not tell people to wear masks?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “New York was the first in the nation to call for a mask mandate. I’m proud of that and I should have done it even sooner.”

Cuomo has been pounding White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for saying last Sunday that the virus can’t be controlled.

“The federal approach is to let the virus spread uncontrolled. They are wrong,” Cuomo said. “You can control the virus because we did control the virus. You can’t eliminate it but you can control it. They don’t believe they can control it so they don’t try. They are actually reducing testing, which is the key to getting the information you actually need to control it. When we started testing we cold only do 500 tests a day. Now we’re up to about 120,000 tests per day. Florida, Arizona and Georgia are all testing less so they can say they have fewer cases. It’s more preemptive capitulation on the theory we can’t control the virus. It’s giving up before you fired a shot. It’s giving up before you knew whether you could make a difference.”

Meanwhile, New York has seen double the number of deaths due to coronavirus in October as compared to September. In September there were a total of 162 deaths, averaging nearly five deaths per day. For the month of October there is a projection of more than 300 deaths, averaging 10.4 deaths per day. In order to stem this spike in coronavirus deaths Cuomo said he is a big believer of hyperlocal containment of the virus.

“When you see smaller spreads you have to control it from becoming larger spreads,” said Cuomo at a recent Albany news conference. “That’s what we call the microcluster strategy. It is Covid Whack-a-Mole. One cluster pops up, bang. One pops up, bang. One pops up, bang. You have to be quick. Government has to be competent. Government has to be effective, but it is a way of controlling the spread and slowing the spread to get you through the vaccination period and save lives. That, at best, is the beginning of the end.”

Cuomo spoke of New Yorkers having Covid fatigue. Retiring Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D – Crown Heights, Brooklyn) said he sees the fatigue when dealing with his constituents.

“I’m getting fatigue over a number of issues which I think Covid has just kind of highlighted and exacerbated these situations,” Mosley told The Jewish Press. “I‘m getting fatigue for tenants who are under stress as to where they are going to (get money to) pay their rents for the past several months. I’m getting fatigue by small business owners and homeowners who can’t pay their commercial lease, rent or mortgage and fear losing their business or their home. I’m getting fatigue over this latest outbreak and what we need to do in an effort to stem this latest flow in this second wave so that we can go into the winter months being in the best possible position available.”

In his final weeks before leaving office, Mosley says the ever-growing recession and budget deficit are the main issues on the table for state lawmakers. Online gaming and legalizing marijuana are two solutions he sees coming soon.

“How do we do that in a way that we don’t lose people from New York indefinitely because those are the people we rely on their income tax and revenue,” Mosley said. “We have to see a smorgasbord of ways we do more with less and obviously raise more. So whether we’re talking about emerging new markets to raise money as in the cannabis industry and online gaming we’re talking about budget cuts across the board. Are we talking about generating revenue through taxation measures, particularly on the ultra-wealthy. These are all things we need to take into account and at the same time do it in a sensible way.”

Mosley worries about losing tax revenue from people who can work remotely and not pay as much in state taxes.

“The new normal is that people can work from anywhere,” said Mosley. “What we don’t want to do is have people working in New York but not physically living in New York and as a result we lose that tax base. We have to be careful and delicate.”

Mosley warned of state lawmakers having too much power concentrated in the hands of a few. The Democrat-controlled Assembly has a veto-proof majority with more than 100 Democratic members. The Senate needs to increase its majority from 40 to 43 to gain a veto-proof majority.

“I know the Senate Majority is looking at a super-majority, which would result in a veto-proof legislature. Understand that there is a responsibility with that veto-proof legislature provision in place that you don’t want to be so heavy-handed that you ultimately hurt and harm the very people you’re trying to do good for,” Mosley cautioned.

The not-yet-scheduled legislative session is likely going to be “sometime after November 3 and before the Thanksgiving break,” Mosley said. “They’ll do a combination of in-person and virtual legislative business. I come up every once in a while to move stuff out of my office. I would come up.”

Much of the session is also for retiring lawmakers, whether defeated at the polls or those who chose not to run for reelection, to say final farewells to their colleagues who, like Mosley, head to a new chapter in their lives.

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Marc Gronich is news director of Statewide News Service. He also operates the website JBizTechValley.com. He has been covering government and politics since 1981. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press.