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Economic Protesters Sour Award Ceremony For Governor Cuomo

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Governor Andrew Cuomo received an award in the West Village Tuesday from the left-leaning Huffington Post for his backing same-sex marriage, but it was his opposition to higher taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers that drew about 150 "Occupy Wall Street" protesters to demonstrate outside. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

At Tuesday's West Village award ceremony, Governor Andrew Cuomo got rousing cheers and a "Changer of the Year Award" in politics from the online news site The Huffington Post, presented by his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo.

Andrew Cuomo would find a frostier response outside, but he left a back door. A modest, but feisty gaggle of about 150 Occupy Wall Street activists jeered his award, and police say two people were taken into custody and given summonses.

To the protesters, Cuomo's insistence on letting a high-income tax surcharge expire is reason enough he should not get a medal from the Huffington Post.

"We just had some of the largest layoffs of teachers around the state, 2,000 [fewer] teachers in classrooms in the city of New York right now. Cuts to firefighters, cuts to cops, cuts to homeless shelters, cuts to all these things because he does not want to continue the tax on millionaires," said Jonathan Westin of New York Communities For Change. "He actually wants to give them a tax cut."

To the governor, there would have to be more cuts if business leave and took their taxes with them, which they may just do if taxes stay as they are.

"We're trying to keep people here, and being one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, it's not a prescription for a bright future," said the governor.

Cuomo does support the higher tax plan President Barack Obama is proposing.

He made no mention of taxes in his short remarks, sticking to abortion, the death penalty, and same sex marriage.

"People say 'I'm against gay marriage.' You know what I say? 'Then don't marry a gay person,' it's that simple," said the governor.

By the time Cuomo gave his address, the protesters were a fraction of what they were, and after a tense 45 minutes, those who remained had agreed to move across the street from the award ceremony.

"People have a right to make their voice heard and that's what they're doing," said the governor.

They did have a supporter in the evening's host, Huffington Post President and Editor Arianna Huffington, who took a diplomatic approach on differences with Cuomo.

"We can have many disagreements with him any other night, but tonight we are here to honor him and we're delighted that his father, [former] Governor Cuomo is presenting him with an award," Huffington said. "There is plenty of time to discuss policy."

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