ALBANY, N.Y. — In this week’s state government news, New York City’s transit troubles could make it a long summer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo while Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie heads upstate.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up:
CUOMO’S DOG DAYS
This year’s so-called summer of hell may not have been as terrible for commuters as some feared, at least so far. But it’s proving to be just as devilish as advertised for Cuomo.
Two recent polls show the Democratic governor’s favorability ratings slumping, with pollsters pointing the finger at New York City’s transit woes.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed in a Siena College poll released Tuesday gave Cuomo an overall favorable rating, down from 61 percent in the college’s poll just two months ago. It’s Cuomo’s lowest favorability rating since 2016. The findings were similar to a Quinnipiac Poll released earlier in the month.
When asked about transit issues, 59 percent of respondents in the Siena poll gave Cuomo poor or fair marks for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with only 26 percent rating his handling of the MTA as excellent or good.
“Their anger about subway meltdowns is turning into real concerns over the governor’s leadership,” said Nick Sifuentes, deputy director of the Riders Alliance. He called on Cuomo to propose a comprehensive solution to the region’s transit troubles. “Otherwise, there will be no end in sight for the subway summer of hell_and miserable riders are going to keep making Governor Cuomo miserable, too.”
The mounting number of transit derailments, delays and breakdowns prompted Cuomo to warn of a “summer of hell” for commuters. While there have been some notable problems, including a trash fire on subway tracks that disrupted travel one day last week, so far the gridlock hasn’t been as bad as some predicted. Cuomo credits state planning for preventing worse problems.
If that changes, however, the pollsters have their own predictions: Cuomo’s summer of hell may get a lot hotter. Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll called the MTA a “ticking time bomb” for the governor, who plans to seek a third term in 2018 and has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.
HEASTIE HEADS UPSTATE
Two years ago, newly elected state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie completed a long tour of upstate New York as a way to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing the state’s different regions. The Bronx Democrat says he learned so much on that trip he decided to do it again this summer.
Trips to western New York, the Albany area, the Mohawk Valley, Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier are all coming up this summer and fall. Heastie completed the first few legs of his tour earlier this month with visits to Rochester, Syracuse and the North Country.
In the North Country, Heastie visited the Thousand Islands where he toured the historic Boldt Castle, a popular tourist attraction affected by recent flooding. He also inspected flood damaged areas of Rochester and, while in that city, toured a training facility for carpenters. In Syracuse the week earlier, he met with drone engineers and attended a demonstration involving a drone that can inspect buildings.
Heastie said the trip is a way of bridging the age-old upstate-downstate divide and an opportunity learn about efforts to reverse decades of economic decline in upstate communities.
“I’ve been asking a lot of questions,” he said during his stop in the North Country.