Cuomo addresses new controversy during Niagara Falls visit

Oct 31, 2014

Governor Cuomo is dismissing claims that his office contributed to a state commission’s failings to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. WBFO asked Cuomo about a new controversy Friday during the governor’s visit to Niagara Falls for a get-out-the-vote rally.

The mood at the event held at the Como Restaurant on Pine Avenue was upbeat, with Cuomo running mate Kathy Hochul urging  nearly 200 supporters to get to the polls Tuesday.

But Cuomo confronted new charges only days before his bid to win a second term. A probe by the New York Times claims Cuomo’s office failed to fill key job vacancies at a state authority months before the hurricane hit, and that the inaction contributed to the failures of the Long Island Power Authority.

The investigation further concluded that the governor’s office took steps to try to shield itself from any blame associated with the now-disbanded authority. 

Cuomo said he didn't fill job vacancies because the authority was a "total patronage mill."

"The Long Island Power Authority totally failed in its job to protect Long Islanders, and it had for many, many years. It was a total patronage mill, but it really collapsed during Hurricane Sandy," Cuomo told WBFO.

Credit WBFO News photo by Brian Meyer

Cuomo was pressed on whether  his refusal to fill empty jobs months before the hurricane hit contributed to the authority's failures.

"Why I would be staffing up a patronage mill is beyond me. So [the Times'] premise made no sense," the governor replied.

Cuomo is being challenged by Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins,  Libertarian Michael McDermott and Sapient Party candidate Steve Cohn.

Cuomo appeared before cheering supporters during a rally that lasted about 40 minutes.

Both Cuomo and Hochul stressed the importance of getting out the vote. Cuomo argued that voter complacency can be  a "killer" to a campaign.

Among the local leaders who attended the rally were Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Congressman Brian Higgins.