By ELINOR TATUM, Publisher and Editor in Chief
Black New Yorkers went to the polls on November 2 and helped give Andrew Cuomo a big electoral victory over Carl Paladino. Blacks represented 18 percent of the electorate, up from 10 percent in 2006.
And how is the governor-elect thanking Black New Yorkers?
He has appointed Rudy Giuliani to his transition team as co-chair of the public safety committee. There cannot be a greater slap in the face to Black New Yorkers than this appointment.
The appointment says to Black New Yorkers that the blatant racism that permeated the Giuliani administration is welcome on the pubic safety committee of the transition team, which translates to us that the safety of the city and state will partially be based on the methods that the former mayor used to terrorize Black New York.
This choice is perplexing. Why would the governor-elect, who is a Democrat, put a former Republican mayor who threatened to run for governor himself on the transition team, along with several other Republicans who have been some of the most outspoken against the Democratic Party and every Democratic governor?
This is not the first time a Cuomo has made such a boneheaded decision involving Giuliani. In the news pages of this paper earlier this year, we reminded our readers of the unholy alliance of the Cuomos and Giuliani going back to the early 1990s when Andrew’s father torpedoed David Dinkins’ re-election campaign.
Cuomo’s father released a report critical of the Dinkins administration’s handling of Crown Heights and allowed a session referendum on the ballot. This lead heavily increased turnout in white/Italian sections of Staten Island. Dinkins barely lost that election and, of course, Giuliani went on to terrorize communities of color for eight years.
And a year after Dinkins’ loss, Giuliani endorsed Mario Cuomo for reelection—crossing party lines.
Overall, the governor-elect’s transition team seems to have some racial/ethnic diversity, but it also has some major holes. For instance, I would rather see an imam on the public safety committee than a Republican mayor. I would like to see other clergy, since the faith community is very important to the social, political, economic and spiritual fabric of New York.
While I understand the need for reconciliation and diversity of thought on a transition team, why is the governor-elect putting people on the team who are in complete opposition to what Cuomo has said he wants to accomplish? Why surround himself with those whose ideals and principals are at odds with what he purports to be trying to accomplish?
Why would you make the man who made the corrupt and now convicted felon Bernard Kerik his police chief a co-chair for public safety?
While there needs to be diversity of ideas, why would you put people in place to work with you who do not agree with the fundamental tenents of what you and your electorate stand for politically? Would Carl Paladino have put David Dinkins or Al Sharpton on his transition team? I doubt it. So why should we suffer the presence of Giuliani?
The transition team has a lot of work ahead, and the people there are put in place to serve at the will of the governor. I hope that cooler heads will prevail in all aspects of the process and that the team is able to find great talent that will provide great advice and leadership for this state.