I Cover Northern Westchester Progressives and Activists — # 3 – Whac-A-Gov


Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State, was planning to take in a film at a special event in Pelham last night. It was a screening of The Italian Americans. At the last minute he changed his mind. If he offered an explanation for his change of plans, this correspondent hasn’t heard about it.

As election day approaches, I’m speculating that there might have been some political calculation, perhaps he was “courting” the “Italian-American” vote. I do know that the New York Times has indicated that he’s made Italian-American political calculations in the past: “Even as he embraces his ancestry, Andrew Cuomo is extremely sensitive about the assumptions that surround it and the political liabilities that could attach to it.”

Is it possible that one of the members of his social media monitoring staff discovered that anti-fracking activists were planning a demonstration outside the special event? (Ban Fracking Rally outside Cuomo Appearance in Pelham)

Maybe he wasn’t happy about the anti-fracking activities at his memoir signing event in the city last week. Maybe he saw the gigantic Andrew Cuomo puppet head and didn’t like it. (created by the increasingly wonderful people at The People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street). Maybe he saw Kim Fraczek and she made him nervous. Could it be that he didn’t want to be confronted by a dedicated and emotionally engaged group of noisy and colorful activists? Yes. Is it possible, as some have speculated, that he cancelled his appearance last night to avoid these activists? Well, I’d say “all things are possible.” Whatever the explanation, I bet the organizers of the “special event” were unhappy about the gubernatorial change of plans. I bet they had been pleased and proud to promote their special event as including the Governor. It must have left them angry and bewildered. They were no doubt forced to repeat the “scheduling conflict” trope many, even what must have seemed nearly innumerable, times.

There’s this story from the memoir signing extravaganza. Plucky Pramilla Malick (of Stop the Minisink Compressor Station) extracted a promise from the Governor to visit the good people of Minisink, NY to discuss the heroically-opposed, noisy, toxic, dangerous natural gas compressor station that’s been built in the middle of their once-quiet residential neighborhood. (see my coverage of the Minisink Resistance here) And because of Plucky Pramilla there now exists what may someday be a one-of-a-kind collectible artifact – a copy of the memoir signed by the Governor and inscribed to the “families of Minisink.”

And while we’re having blockquotes there’s this story, published earlier today in Salon: Andrew Cuomo’s Memoir Flops — Big Time. The memoir is called “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” and the Sastory includes this gem: “An even bigger humiliation? A new book on political corruption by Zephyr Teachout, the progressive law professor who won more than a third of the vote against Cuomo in last month’s Democratic primary, is far outperforming Cuomo’s book in sales on Amazon. Cuomo’s book ranked 18,104 on the site as of Tuesday; Teachout’s “Corruption in America” ranked 1,461.” Ouch.

The good people at nyaf and sape organized the action in Pelham, and they’ve vowed to keep up the pressure until Governor Cuomo bans fracking. And maybe his cancellation last night is good news. If he cancelled to avoid them, then he must consider them to be more than an insignificant irritant. And there’s also the open question of why Tom Roach, the democratic mayor of White Plains. After he’d enthusiastically agreed to appear at a rally on the steps of city hall alongside Zephyr Teachout, the Mayor developed his own last-minute “scheduling conflict.” The question has been asked: did someone get to him? The Governor, someone from his office? Your correspondent would love to know. And since Ms. Teachout’s name has come up, it must have produced a measure of vertigo in the scion of the two-generation Cuomo dynasty that Zephyr Teachout – a nearly unfunded political new-comer – took more than 30% of the statewide vote in the democratic primary. And the fracking drama is considerably increased by Ms. Teachout’s unrelenting populist anti-fracking jeremiads.

There were, across from the Pelham Picture House, familiar faces of many the indefatigable workers for a Better Tomorrow. Veteran progressive laborer Susan vand was there and spoke with her usual clarity and charm to the media. Spunky drsusanubin and dedicated ellen w lent their time and voices to the cause. There were nyaf boots on the ground, including kate stigdon (the artist who made that beautiful poster), steve gyetko, steve hopkins, michele rodriguez and Lana Guardo. NYAF organizer Jack Miller had this to say: “Governor Cuomo needs to understand that the science is settled. Fracking is inherently dangerous to public health and the safety of our families. It’s too dirty, too dangerous and it doesn’t belong in New York State.” Seems pretty clear to me.

Governor Cuomo has managed so far to remain undeclared on the fracking issue and no doubt intends to stay that way until after the election, absorbing whatever whacking he’ll take along the way. He’s caught between the hard place of the extremely well-funded and politically generous natural gas interests and the rock of the already effective and ever more sophisticated and politically potent forces of New York’s anti-fracking movement.

The anti-fracking movement and the allied and increasingly unstoppable anti-natural-gas-infrastructure movement.

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