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NYSNYS NEWS WEEK IN REVIEW for October 2-8, 2021: Campaign for governor begins. More Cuomo aides face the ax. SUNY enrollment plummets.
NYSNYS NEWS WEEK IN REVIEW for October 2-8, 2021: Campaign for governor begins. More Cuomo aides face the ax. SUNY enrollment plummets.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 8, 2021) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul wins the endorsement of Democratic state chair Jay Jacobs as the campaign gets underway. A key Cuomo aide will stay on as others exit. Grim enrollment figures for SUNY. Plus, a look ahead to next week.





NYS Democratic chair Jay Jacobs endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul this week, underscoring how fast the 2022 campaign is accelerating as the Democratic primary is just 8 months away. As he made the announcement, Attorney General Letitia James traveled the state to hand out opioid drug settlement money to localities, another sign she is ready to jump in the race.

"With the resignation of Governor Cuomo in late August and the ascension of Kathy Hochul to that office, numbers of qualified and talented Democrats have been exploring the option of seeking the Democratic nomination," Jacobs said on Monday. "That, in turn, has opened the possibility of other down-ballot primaries as elected officials consider moving up from one office to another. Complicating the current environment is the fact that the election schedule has been dramatically shortened with the State Convention due to take place in about four months with the primary in less than nine.  From the beginning, I have been urging those considering a primary run for governor to hold their powder and allow the incumbent governor to make her mark and put forward her agenda.  Over the past few days, it has become apparent that some are not willing to wait. 
"Accordingly, I am today announcing my personal endorsement of Governor Kathy Hochul for election to a full term as our Governor.  I am also endorsing our current full ticket: Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and Attorney General, Letitia James for Attorney General and Tom DiNapoli for Comptroller."

Jacobs says Hochul has proven to be a capable leader in her first six weeks as governor and would be a formidable general election candidate. He also cited past history that suggests Republicans will have a good year in 2022 because it is the first midterm election cycle since the election of President Joe Biden.

"I have been around for the first midterm election of quite a few newly elected Presidents," Jacobs said. "Historically, they do not go well for the incumbent party -- all the way down ballot.  I make no assumption that the Republicans cannot possibly win in New York State.  A party torn apart by multiple candidates in multiple primaries for multiple offices will exhaust precious resources, divide us, and make us weaker when we need to be at our strongest."

Jacobs is Nassau County Democratic chair. Suffolk County Democratic Chair Richard Schaffer also endorsed Hochul, telling Newsday Hochul is in the political mainstream and nominating a far left Democrat for governor could bring defeat. "For those who would say, 'This is New York, a Republican can’t possibly win here,' I would point you to Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont, all of which are to New York’s left and all of which have Republican governors."

A midterm election in 1992 after President Bill Clinton's election resulted in George Pataki's surprise defeat of Gov. Mario Cuomo. Pataki served three terms and was last Republican to win the top job in New York politics. Ahead of 2022, several Republicans are already in the running, with the GOP county leaders so far lining up behind Rep. Lee Zeldin.

While Hochul has declared her candidacy, no other candidates have formally entered the race on the Democratic side. Those looking at running besides James are NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is leaving office at the end of the year. Pundits are also speculating Cuomo may somehow try for a political comeback despite the scandals and criminal investigations that prompted his resignation in August.



The post-Cuomo era continues to exact a toll in Albany, with more senior aides and appointees losing their cushy jobs as Gov. Kathy Hochul puts in her old team and purges the ranks of anyone connected to the scandals surrounding former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Those announcing their exits this week included Larry Schwartz, his longtime political operative is on the MTA board, and Roann Destito, the former Assembly member from the Mohawk Valley who has served as OGS commissioner. Media reports also said Hochul is trying to push out two Cuomo appointees to the Public Service Commission, including John Howard, who was the Executive Chamber director of operations. PSC commissioners are confirmed by the Senate for fixed terms, which may mean they will stay despite Hochul's efforts.

Hochul appointed Jose Nieves, a criminal defense attorney from Queens and former attorney general's office staffer, as head of the JCOPE ethics panel. Also still on board is Robert Mujica, a former top Senate GOP staffer who Cuomo appointed state budget director; and Jim Malatras, the SUNY chancellor. Malatras was involved in the controversy over the underreporting of covid19 nursing home deaths, which remains under investigation. Malatras, a political operative who had no background in higher education before Cuomo put him in various SUNY jobs, serves at the pleasure of the SUNY board which would have to act to remove him.

Cuomo continued to try to grab attention from the media and political world. He sent a email from his now mothballed campaign operation warning recipients that New York was in a dangerous place with far left Democrats in control. He also reiterated attacks on the women who accused him of sexual harassment and on Attorney General Letitia James, whose shocking report prompted his resignation.

"Despite what the Attorney General led the public to believe, there were not 11 violations -- but rather than having been subjected to an honest review, the report was litigated through the lens of the political theatre of Albany," Cuomo wrote. "On the other hand, it would have been months of Democrats fighting Democrats which would have paralyzed government and returned Albany to the days of dysfunction. It would have played into the political extremists’ hands by legitimizing the weaponization of harassment claims and increased New Yorkers’ distrust and cynicism about state government. It would have undermined much of our hard-earned progress over the past decade. That is the last thing that I was willing to do.

"I fear the state is in a dangerous moment," Cuomo wrote. "We are seeing extremists and political expediency rule the day and 'the tail is wagging the dog' in the Democratic Party. Government incompetence, political slogans and pandering are prevailing. Twitter has overtaken political dialogue."

Cuomo followed up that email with an Instagram post showing him fishing with his dog. On Friday, lawyer Rita Glavin released a 10 page letter to the Assembly again attacking the James report and Cuomo's accusers, and implying legislators committed the same kinds of misdeeds he is accused of committing. The Assembly impeachment report is expected within days.



Covid19 continued to exact a toll on SUNY, with enrollments plummeting as the pandemic upended life. But the bigger blame appears to be changing demographics and a declining birth rate.

Following up on earlier media reporting, the Watertown Times this week reported that SUNY enrollment is down sharply and the outlook is not good. "SUNY’s total enrollment is down 4.7 percent, or 18,600 students across its 64 campuses in one year from fall 2020, according to preliminary fall 2021 enrollment numbers," the paper reported. "SUNY has 92,386 fewer students than it did 10 years ago -- a downward change of 19.7 percent. Applications were down 9 percent across the system this spring. Only SUNY’s doctoral program showed gains of 0.2 percent year-over-year and up 1 percent since fall 2019 before the start of the pandemic."

"This is a moment in time where we have to look at ourselves and say, 'How do we do better?' " SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras told the paper. "The declining enrollment environment is not just a SUNY issue -- it’s a national issue of higher education."

Last week, Capital District Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Mark Castiglione told the Schenectady Gazette that SUNY is mirroring a large societal trend -- fewer kids being born in New York means fewer students as they grow up. "How do we produce more young people? More people need to produce more young people," Castiglione told the paper. "The birth rates would need to go up, and that would have a cascading effect on future generations."

The "average family household size has been declining, birthrates have been declining, and that kind of paints the picture of the subsequent generations being a little bit smaller," he said. The trend has resulted in a 41 percent enrollment decline at SUNY Schenectady, the paper reported.

The stories were prompted by the SUNY Board's release of its 10-Year Enrollment Trend Report. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has also reported on declining college and university enrollments in New York, which is losing population to other states with better job opportunities and affordable housing.

"In spring 2021, New York State higher education enrollment totaled 943,336," DiNapoli reported earlier this year. "This represents a 5.2 percent decrease from the previous year compared to a 3.5 percent decline nationwide. In spring 2020, such decreases from the year before were 2.0 and 0.5 percent, respectively.



UNVACCINATED JUDGE: Court of Appeals associate judge Jenny Rivera is participating remotely in hearing court cases after being barred from entering any courthouse because of her refusal to get the covid19 vaccine, the NY Post reported. A court spokesman said her absence wasn't a problem and medical care decisions were hers alone to make.


NEW FEDERAL PROSECUTORS: The Senate confirmed new federal prosecutors for New York, including Syracuse prosecutor Carla Freedman, 57, to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, which runs from the Southern Tier to Canada and Albany to Syracuse; Damian Williams, 41, in the Southern District based in Manhattan, the first black person to hold the post; and Breon Peace, in the Eastern District based in Brooklyn, who is also black.



HOLIDAY WEEKEND: Monday is Columbus Day, also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day in Rochester, Ithaca and a few other communities around NYS.



Meeting of the Directors of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (“ECHDC”), an ESD Subsidiary. Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. In accordance with recently passed Legislation, this meeting will be conducted via teleconference. The public may listen to the meeting via webcast.

Meeting of the Directors of the USA Niagara Development Corporation, an ESD subsidiary. Tuesday, October 12, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. In accordance with recently passed Legislation, this meeting will be conducted via teleconference. The public may listen to the meeting via webcast.


FUNDRAISER: Assemblyman John McDonald, Wednesday 5:30 pm, Franklin Plaza, Troy, $50-$300


Tuesday, October 12, 2021
The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems, Emergency Medical Services for Children Advisory Council will meet on October 12 at 1:00 p.m. virtually via the Webex platform. Pre-registration for the webcast is required at the web address below using the password provided:
Program web address:
Program registration password: EMSC21
The public may write and submit comments during the meeting through a portal on the live webcast. The comments will then be read into the public record.
For further information please contact the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems, EMS for Children Program at 518-485-5907 or email

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The New York State Trauma Advisory Committee (STAC) will meet virtually on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.
Authorized under Section 3064 of the Public Health Law, the STAC consists of trauma surgeons, trauma nurses, emergency physicians, emergency nurses, and other emergency medical and trauma care professionals appointed by the commissioner to advise and assist the department and the commissioner in the coordination of trauma and disaster care, quality improvement guidelines for trauma and disaster care, trauma systems, and trauma center designations.
For questions regarding the STAC, please contact the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems at (518) 402-0996 or e-mail



Oct. 13 Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction 
Chair: Senator Julia Salazar
Senate Standing Committee on Codes 
Chair: Senator Jamaal Bailey

Public Hearing
S3979C - To hear testimony regarding S3979C
Van Buren Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany, New York
10:00 A.M

Oct. 13 Joint -- Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments 
Chair: Assembly Member Fred W. Thiele
Assembly Standing Committee on Cities 
Chair: Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein
Assembly Standing Committee on Housing 
Chair: Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz
Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary 
Chair: Assembly Member Charles D. Lavine

Public Hearing
The Role of Local Governments in Accessory Dwelling Unit Siting

Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor, New York, New York
11:00 A.M.

Oct. 14 Assembly Standing Committee on Education 
Chair: Assembly Member Michael Benedetto
Public Hearing
Governance of the New York City School District
Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor, New York, New York
10:00 A.M.

Oct. 14 Assembly Standing Committee on Codes 
Chair: Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz
Public Hearing
Gun safety proposals and the status of the firearm ammunition sales database in New York
Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany, New York
10:30 A.M.