New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his second State of the State address.
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo says he has two roles: governor and lobbyist for the state’s students.
To a number of city and state observers, he has a third job: co-mayor of New York City.
Cuomo in recent months has interjected himself more and more into city business, from taxi regulation to seeking an end to the fingerprinting of food stamp applicants — and with a plan to redevelop of the West Side that blind-sided Mayor Bloomberg.
By making the city his sandbox, he’s often found himself pitted against Hizzoner — and Democratic insiders say Bloomberg only has himself to blame.
One said that by circumventing the City Council to push a controversial livery cab bill in Albany, Bloomberg opened the door for Cuomo’s involvement.
He then angered the governor with a threat to scuttle a $1 billion plan for the state to convert a nonprofit health insurer to a for-profit company.
“The governor is not a guy who needs an invitation to take power,” said one Democrat. “The mayor made it possible for him [with the taxi bill\] and then spit in his eye to give him further reason to do it.”
The end result? Bloomberg will now need Team Cuomo approval before being able to sell the bulk of new yellow cab medallions designed to net the cash-strapped city more than $1 billion.
Cuomo’s call in his State of the State address Wednesday to end food stamp fingerprinting was also seen as a direct shot at the mayor, since the city is the only municipality impacted.
While Bloomberg argued that fingerprinting cuts down on fraud, he is powerless to stop Cuomo from eliminating the requirement through state regulation.
And like with the fingerprinting issue, the first the mayor heard about Cuomo’s plan to develop a mega-convention center in Queens — and also redevelop the Jacob Javits Convention site on Manhattan’s West Side — was shortly before he heard Cuomo say it in the speech.
“Is this a fight (Cuomo’s) picking with the mayor?” asked veteran Democratic consultant rhetorically. “The governor is very politically powerful and if there’s a conflict, it will be against the lame-duck mayor.”
A Cuomo aide denied extra involvement in the city, saying the governor has dealt with local issues across the state. “We involve ourselves in the issues that are important,” the aide said.
As is his custom, Bloomberg has tried to downplay any tensions with Cuomo.
But a number of state lawmakers saw Cuomo’s speech as the latest salvo in the increasingly hostile relationship between the two.
“New York City mayors traditionally are the second best known (American) politician in the world — but the governor has more power,” said one state lawmaker who deals with both men.