Cuomo Sends Bad Signal on Rent Laws

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State speech on January 21 in Albany. With the speech delayed for two weeks because of the death of his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, the governor combined it with the annual presentation of his proposed executive budget.

Cuomo had dozens of initiatives and plans to discuss, and for more than an hour he did so energetically, laying out an ambitious agenda for his second term. However, he did not know that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the legislative leaders sitting next to him on stage, was going to be arrested early the next morning on charges of taking payoffs from two law firms. Talk about raining on the governor’s parade! All the followup coverage of Cuomo’s various initiatives went up in smoke as every reporter and editor in the state focused on Silver’s arrest and subsequent removal as Speaker.

Very few reporters—or legislators—noticed a major omission. In a year when the state rent laws are coming up for renewal, certainly a major issue facing New York State, Cuomo did say not one word about that in the speech. This had to be a conscious choice by the governor.

Tenants are determined to remind Cuomo of this issue, and why we need him to fight to restore our rent-protection laws. As Tenant/Inquilino went to press, there were Valentine’s Day plans for several busloads of tenants to deliver a giant heart-shaped missive to Andrew Cuomo at the governor’s mansion in Albany, with a message calling for repeal of the deregulation amendments that have severely weakened rent and eviction protections in the downstate region. The tenants then planned to attend the annual conference of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus.