Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?
Friday, June 22, 2012
Both rock stars in their own right, both trying to right their states' ships, and both building serious momentum for a potential presidential run. Every Friday, we'll look at whose week will look better on a résumé come 2016.
Check out last week's results here.
Legislative session draws to close
The New York State Legislature ended its session on Thursday, as Karen DeWitt reports, "in an orderly fashion for the first time in decades."
Governor Cuomo called the session "one of the most successful in modern political history." It saw the governor secure passage of many of his desired pieces of legislation, including pension reform that would reduce benefits for future public employees; expansion of the state's DNA database; greater legal assistance for disabled New Yorkers who have been subject to abuse; and, on the last day of the session, teacher evaluation reform, which previously looked like a no-go until next January.
Cuomo wasn't able to overcome Senate Republicans' opposition to his marijuana decriminalization bill. A proposal to increase the minimum wage, favored by Democratic lawmakers but opposed by the GOP, was left on the table.
We've already given points or docked them based on Cuomo's success, or lack thereof, on most of these issues. Let's give him another point for allowing the legislative season to end on time, so we can all get on with our lives.
- Verdict: +1
Backs Obama's new immigration policy
Many New York pols, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Senator Chuck Schumer among them, wasted little time applauding President Obama's announcement of a new deportation policy for young illegal immigrants last Friday. But Governor Cuomo was conspicuously absent from the cheerleading section.
Cuomo remained silent until Thursday, when he finally came out in support of the new measure that would allow certain young illegal immigrants to stay in the country provided they've lived in the country continuously for at least five years, plan to enroll in college or serve in the military, and haven't been convicted of any serious crimes.
"I think it was a good thing," Cuomo said at a press conference. "I think immigration is a big positive for this country. Anyone who has a question, they should look at this state."
Between strong support for DREAM Act-like policies within the Democratic party, and signs that even the Republican nominee for president is softening his tone, that's the right side for Cuomo to be on if he hopes to secure a nomination of his own in 2016.
- Verdict: +1
Halfway house investigation
An investigation by the New York Times published earlier this week found evidence that New Jersey's system of state-regulated halfway houses, to which the state releases inmates early in order to save money, was riddled with instances of drug use, violence, and sexual abuse.
Allegations of disorder and misconduct have gone without investigation by state officials and prosecutors, and it turns out the organization that runs the halfway houses has ties to several New Jersey politicians, including Chris Christie.
It's a bad week when your state and your political relationships become the subject of a Times investigation so big it has to be published over multiple days. Observers have raised the specter of this story diminishing Christie's chances of being considered as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney; of being a club for political opponents; and becoming disastrous if an escapee from one of these halfway houses goes on to commit a serious crime.
- Verdict: -3