Opinion Editorial on Small Donor Empowerment
Is Cuomo really pushing?Jimmy Vielkind
Thursday, June 13, 2013
As the legislative session closes, some advocates are wondering whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo is wholly committed to pushing through some of the marquee agenda items he introduced in the last two weeks.
In a column posted today at Salon, Blake Zeff argues that Cuomo’s delay in releasing a campaign finance reform billsuggests he is half-hearted at best about his push. It’s sentiment that I heard the other day from Bill Samuels, a former fundraiser for Senate Democrats and head of the New Roosevelt Institute, a think tank.
“It’s another redistricting — it’s do as I say, not as I do,” said Samuels, who suggested Cuomo should have introduced a bill and held hearings starting in February. He accused Cuomo of simply “appeasing” advocates of public campaign finance.
“Anyone who thinks this is going to get done in the next week is kidding themselves,” he said.
Gabriel Sayegh, head of the Drug Policy Alliance, also seemed a bit frustrated with Cuomo after a press conference today. He’s lobbying for a measure to clarify marijuana possession laws that will prevent arrests under the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program.
“What we would love to see is this issue remain high on the governor’s priority list, as evidenced by showing up on his priority list,” he said. “The governor’s been very good on this issue, which is why we’re eager for him to show up.”
Indeed, Cuomo last year introduced legislation that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana held in public view. This charge, currently a misdemeanor, is often applied during police stop-and-frisks, which disproportionately affect young black and Hispanic men.
The governor has scarcely mentioned it this year, and didn’t include it in recent essay or interviews about his end-of-session priorities.
“The whole thing is bizarre,” said Sayegh. “Everybody says they support the thing: the governor, the caucus, it’s passed the Assembly, we have law enforcement, and yet it can’t move. Of the things that are being seriously considered at the end of session, this is the only one that deals explicitly with communities of color that is at the brink of being done.”
The last scheduled day of the legislative session is Thursday.