Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are exchanging increasingly bitter charges over a controversial housing program. Josh Robin filed the following report.
He smiles first. When a reporter mentions Mayor Bill de Blasio, exasperation seems to crease Andrew Cuomo's face.
"I don't think it is realistic to think that you can broach this issue this late in the legislative session and have a fulsome debate," the governor said.
The issue is 421-a, a tax perk to build affordable housing. It expires in mere days.
And with tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the lurch, it's de Blasio who sounds exasperated at Cuomo for not doing everything he can to improve it, or at least renew it.
"On this issue, I'm surprised he's not acting like a partner," de Blasio told WABC-TV.
It's unclear what Cuomo wants on the issue, at least. He hasn't signed on to a bill, but he's more than once reminded reporters about a beef unions have with de Blasio. He's resisting their push to tie development with higher contruction wages.
"You have the workers saying that this bill, the mayor's plan, is blatantly unfair to them," Cuomo said.
And then there's the lateness. Cuomo suggests de Blasio's entrance to the debate is as tardy as the mayor often arrives.
City Hall counters that the mayor introduced his plan weeks ago, and Cuomo well knows how to pass legislation at the last minute.
"The bottom line is that he's putting out distractions when we need to get to the core issue," de Blasio said.
Relations between governors and New York City mayors are never really entirely harmonious, but they're thought to be especially acrimonious, oddly enough, when both of them are members of the same party. That was the case, at least, between Republicans George Pataki and Rudolph Giuliani.
But some say the Cuomo-de Blasio drama seems to have more than a whiff of nastiness in a southward direction. Albany to New York.
Which begs a question.
Q: Can you also, I guess, respond to the criticism that you're being gratitiously mean to Mayor de Blasio?
Cuomo: Well, that's silly, obviously.
The mayor told WABC this isn't about egos or personalities.