Remember Andrew Cuomo? Our governor who resigned in disgrace after multiple credible allegations of sexual assault against him were documented in a report compiled by the attorney general? These days, he's living out the last 20 minutes of "Tár": hosting a podcast ("Full disclosure, I'm an Alec Baldwin fan") and walking around the Javits Center, pointing at boat engines. A state judge recently ruled that taxpayers should have to cover the legal fees that he incurred while fighting the sexual assault allegations. If it weren't for his periodic broadsides against "politicized" prosecutors, you might even say he's a "a laid back, cool dude in a loose mood."
But over the last few days, some emails have surfaced that could derail Cuomo's comeback attempts.
The Empire Center, the conservative think tank that has been a pandemic-era thorn in Cuomo's side since it started publishing damning data on nursing home deaths, has obtained a bunch of emails that suggest that Cuomo's staff was working on his pandemic memoir, "American Crisis," as early as March 2020. Why, that's the very beginning of the soon-to-be titular crisis!
According to the Empire Center's Bill Hammond, "Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, directed staff members to produce a timeline of events and forward it to two of the governor's speechwriters—who began converting the material into fodder for a memoir."
The first DeRosa email is from March 30, 2020 and is a classic use of the entire-contents-of-email-in-subject-line power move form: "who can do a timeline for me? call me to discuss"
To recap the whole dumb Cuomo book thing so far: A mostly useless, extremely opaque, and now-defunct state body, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, gave Cuomo clearance to write the book in 2020, while stipulating that he not use any state resources while writing it. When it was revealed that Cuomo had aides work on the book—but "on their own time"—JCOPE ordered Cuomo to turn over the proceeds of his $5.1 million book advance, although that decision was later overturned by a judge.
The Empire Center believes this new information could be enough for the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, the successor to JCOPE, to reinvestigate the issue of the advance.
In response, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi tweeted, "The emails have NOTHING to do with work on the book, which began months later. The timeline was to inform the daily briefings, speeches and other COVID-related materials. Of course a speechwriter would produce language in the Governor's voice."
And yet, curiously, in one of the emails, Cuomo speechwriter Jamie Malanowski says, "Here is a preface I've been working on," then pastes in said preface under the heading "PREFACE." ("Meanwhile, half a world away in China, a mysterious pneumonia was afflicting people in Wuhan province.")
It sure looks like Cuomo used state assets to write this book (If a governor asks you, a state employee, to do something voluntarily, are you actually able to refuse?) that barely sold.
Less importantly, but no less disappointing: The book stinks.
It still feels impossible to explain what that time felt like in New York. It deserves a worthy document. Cuomo and his state-payroll ghostwriters were probably never going to be the ones to do it. Maybe Cuomo would have been better off utilizing state funds to hire JR Moehringer?
Here're some more links to start your week that do not involve Andrew Cuomo:
- How's it going on with current Governor Katy Hochul and her stalled pick for chief judge, Hector LaSalle? Oh, just your classic silent standoff, really.
- Hochul and Mayor Adams are boasting of a 16 percent dip in crime on the subway compared to the same time period in 2021, since they started swarming platforms with NYPD in October. Adams refused to say how much NYPD overtime this is costing us. Meanwhile, nonprofits are pushing back against the mayor's decision to cut an effective wage-theft fund. But at least there'll be bored cops on the Q train.
- SNAP recipients are suing the City over delays.
- Many of the donors who gave the George Santos campaign the legal maximum of $2,800 seemingly do not exist. Two FTX executives who do exist also gave the max. We're approaching the point where, yes, accountability would be great, but, honestly, George, just a thorough explanation would be nice.
- On the 15th anniversary of FourLoko coming to town, Punch has a very fun piece looking back at the mania. Just one highlight: "Brooklyn Assemblyman Félix Ortiz, in an attempt to prove to constituents how dangerous it was, drank as much Four Loko as he could in an hour on New York’s NBC station, with a doctor measuring his vital signs. His blood pressure shot up, and eventually he vomited off-screen." Sincerely: The fact that The Time When You Could Get Original Recipe Four Loko has become its own overly mythologized New York City era—like peak CBGBs or Danceteria—is delightful.
- Another major nightlife anniversary: It's been 30 years since the opening of the East Village party bar Coyote Ugly, and the New York Post has an "exclusive" interview with proprietor Lil Lovell, who can "exclusively" reveal there's a Coyote Ugly in Kyrgyzstan. See, this is why this town needs a more robust media industry: Someone cut the check and Hell Gate's on a plane to Bishkek tomorrow.
- Can it be? A slice for under a buck?!
- We're sorry to say it, but if you want to see a statue of Gristedes billionaire John Catsimatidis's mother-in-law, you're going to have to go to Florida.
- A New York Times column about a court blocking a South Street Seaport development is headlined "In Affordable Housing v. Parking Lot, a Judge Chooses the Lot," which elegantly downplays the fact the project is a high-rise promising a tidy but not mind-blowing 70 affordable units out of 270 high-end ones. And why the simple binary? What about option C for the lot: Anarchist utopia?
- Free Kareem Mayo!
- And finally, a bit of positivity: The DSNY Twitter admin was in their bag last night.