THE HEZITORIAL: Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano - ‘Tough Guy’ or Simply a ‘Place Holder’? By HEZI ARIS
YONKERS, NY – January 29, 2013 – It was New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) who travelled to the City of Yonkers (CoY) to endorse the candidacy of then Assemblyman Mike Spano (center) for Mayor of CoY. In a concise and commanding manner Gov. Cuomo advised of his belief in Yonkers and his belief that Mike Spano is best for Yonkers. Gov. Cuomo’s assertion brought those in attendance at The Polish Community Center to cheer his endorsement of Mike Spano and for the kind words about Yonkers that lingered in the air like the smell of the most expensive perfume. The scent of hope, belief, and trust in Yonkers by Gov. Cuomo lingers in the minds and hearts of Yonkersites who heard his pronouncement to this day. It was an elixir so intoxicatingly captivating when first expressed and remains indelible among those who heard of his assertions to this day. Gov. Cuomo was at his zenith then; prospects for Yonkers were anticipated with great fanfare. Thirteen months later into Yonkers Mayor Spano’s term has Yonkersites question whether Mayor Spano is a ‘Tough Guy’ or simply a ‘place holder’ awaiting a control board.
Last Tuesday, January 22, 2013, Gov. Cuomo expected to maintain his “groove” in explaining his approach to local leaders frustrated by the backroom accommodations that expressed remedy of problems without proof as to how Gov. Cuomo’s agility to traverse the political gauntlet so successfully in the past has hit a speed bump. Democratic party loyalists, silent in their subservience and acquiescence to his leadership directives are testing their demeanor in challenging his unproven formulas and directives for municipalities despite the backroom attempts to keep a lid on his diminishing clout and him being questioned. Gov. Cuomo is quick to respond with a formulaic, “We don’t have the money” to bail out all the municipalities.
Accepting Gov. Cuomo’s postulation, highlights not only New York State’s bankrupt coffers but also exposes a lack for credible intellectual solutions to both state and municipal plight.
Criticism was first eloquently expressed over allowing municipalities to push their pension costs into the future by Mayor Stephanie A. Miner of Syracuse. Mayor Miner said, “Isn’t this what got states like Illinois in trouble?” Mayor Miner questioned whether continuing to kick a can of fiscal issues down the road is a solution. Mayor Miner earned her political credentials as a regional representative under Gov. Mario Cuomo.
The next day, at a pre-scheduled meeting with journalists at The Post-Standard of Syracuse, Gov. Cuomo’s surrogate, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said, “I would say to the mayor, if this is not sufficient, then I would suggest one viable option she would have is to request a financial control board.”
In a separate interview, Mayor Miner was quick to state, “I think that’s a false choice, to say to the people of New York State you either have to borrow more or give up democratic control of your city.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, less combative in nature than Mayor Miner said, “Giving us new ways to borrow money, it’s appreciated, and it is a life preserver, but it’s not going to solve our problems.”
Lawrence Schwartz, Secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has frowned upon and rebuked Mayor Spano his past involvement with mayors of large cities in the state their collective efforts to find “other” options responsive to the plight of local municipalities.
“He’s a tough guy, you know?” Mayor Spano said of Gov. Cuomo. “You’ve got to respect that. He’s a tough guy from the big city; I’m a tough guy from a big city — not as big as the one he’s from.”
Continuing, Mayor Spano said, “We all are set on a path, and at the end of this path, there’s going to be a day of reckoning where we are no longer going to be able to tax our way, cut our way or borrow our way out of our problems, and when that day comes, what are we going to do?”
Gov. Cuomo believes, “If there is a fundamental economic inequity in… a public corporation, resolve the inequity. Don’t subsidize it year after year after year.”
Will Yonkers Mayor Mike ‘Tough Guy’ Spano distill a common denominator of “fair and equitable” funding for the City of Yonkers or will he take it like a ‘Tough Guy”, that is, devoid of challenge, and his frustration hidden in silence. The vision for Yonkers cannot await direction from Mr Schwartz. Yonkers vision must be drawn from within the depths of benevolence and the best of intention from the brightest minds of the City of Yonkers. That vision must be struck by circumstance and fiscal plight as easily as hammering a copper platter. The concept of the best vision for Yonkers will survive by continuous reassessment of circumstances as long as CoY is focused on exacting a “fair” response from Albany. To that end, Yonkers elected officials must find common ground in their approach to Albany and be resolute in giving voice to an equation of reality squandered in years long past by the likes of former Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone.
Welcoming the Control Board to Yonkers for a third time in its history will be an easy ride for Mayor Mike Spano; a ‘place holder’ move. The challenge falls before the door of Mayor Mike ‘Tough Guy’ Spano over whether to take it “hard” or “easy”? Choosing “hard” will make for a bumpy ride. Focus must not be eclipsed by drama or deflection.
Only ‘Tough Guys’ survive to tell the tale. What’s it to be Mayor ‘Tough Guy’?