In his masterpiece, “The Wasteland,” Nobel Laureate T.S. Eliot forewarned “April is the cruelest month.” And so it has been for Gov. Hochul.
First, there was the governor’s rather lame reaction to the April 12 shooting horror on the N train in which a man wounded 29 with a 9mm semi-automatic gun.
At a press conference with the city’s top cops and FBI agents, she said, “This morning New Yorkers left their homes en route to a normal day. That sense of tranquility and normalness was disrupted, brutally disrupted, by an individual so cold-hearted and depraved of heart, that they had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted as they simply went about their daily lives.”
Not a caring person? Good Lord! You think the governor at such a moment would call the mass shooter for what he is—a vicious evil monster.
If nothing else, it proves Hochul has a political tin ear.
Events surrounding the resignation of her lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, on the same day as the shooting incident provides additional evidence to prove my point.
Benjamin was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking part in a bribery scheme. He is accused of “falsifying campaign donations forms, misleading city authorities and giving false information as part of a background check to become lieutenant governor” in 2021.
Benjamin agreed to accept the lieutenant governor appointment even though he had received a federal subpoena.
Concealing that fact from the governor and the state troopers was just plain old dumb.
But for the governor not to catch wind that an investigation was afoot and to say as recently as April 7 that she had the “utmost confidence in my lieutenant governor” indicates to me just how isolated she is in the governor’s mansion.
Anyone who has spent time in Albany knows that the primary activity in the halls of the capital is gossiping.
So, I find it hard to believe that there weren’t any murmurings about Benjamin’s troubles. Particularly when there were already published reports in The City that Benjamin’s failed campaign for New York City comptroller had “benefitted from suspicious donations as well as ethical concerns about his use of campaign funds for a wedding celebration and car expenses.”
Hochul’s statement announcing Benjamin’s resignation was also lame. Instead of denouncing Benjamin as a scoundrel for deceiving her, she meekly said: “While the legal process plays out, it’s clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve a lieutenant governor…. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”
That statement doesn’t increase my confidence in the Hochul administration.
Hochul’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Congressman Tom Suozzi, succinctly described the governor’s precarious situation: “Kathy Hochul’s poor judgment and lack of executive experience are on full display with her handpicked running mate. Why did she pick someone who not only had [an] impending ethics complaint but also a vocal supporter of defunding the police?”
To add to Hochul’s woes, the lieutenant governor she runs with in the general election might be a political foe.
Because it’s too late to replace Benjamin on the primary ballot, the winner may be the radical leftist Ana Maria Archila, who is aligned with Hochul’s primary opponent Jumaane Williams.
The last time a Democratic candidate got stuck with a lieutenant governor not of their choosing was in 1982 when Mario Cuomo was saddled with Ed Koch’s running mate, Westchester County Executive Alfred DelBello.
But Mario Cuomo never forgot a slight, and for DelBello to have supported his opponent was unforgivable.
To make life miserable for DelBello, Cuomo slashed his staff in half and kept him on a short leash.
When DelBello publicly complained that Cuomo ignored his advice, the governor told The New York Times, “He obviously chose Koch over me. He had to adjust to his own delusional expectations.”
DelBello resigned his post out of disgust in December 1984.
I doubt Hochul, if elected to a full-term in November, would have the tenacity to pull a “Cuomo” on an unwanted lieutenant governor who may work against her and oppose her policies.
Finally, there was another April cruelty that will soon haunt Gov/ Hochul and every taxpayer: the disastrous, reckless $220 billion state budget she signed into law.
But more on that mess in my next column.