by Avrohom Gordimer
For whatever reason, starting two years ago, the governor of New York started getting totally unhinged.
Thirty-five years ago, as a late teen, I came to New York to attend yeshiva. As an avid follower of news and politics, I recall cringing every time I heard then–New York governor Mario Cuomo on the radio, as he pontificated on the issues of the day, spewing forth liberal platitudes as if they were divine truths that no one dare question, while failing to say anything of substance, as the state was falling apart. It was a disgrace.
Seventeen years later, Cuomo's son, Andrew, was sworn in as the 56th governor of New York. Although none of my friends or family members voted for him, people commented at the time that Andrew Cuomo was better than his father — pro-business; anti-crime; not as politically correct; and willing to take on ultra-progressives, such as NYC mayor Bill de Blasio. The crime rate in New York State was not escalating, the rate of businesses leaving the state was not increasing, and things seemed sort of OK for a state led by a Democrat (although issues of morality, with Cuomo's infatuation with "gay pride" and his non-marital domestic relationship, left much to be desired).
For whatever reason, starting two years ago, Andrew Cuomo started getting totally unhinged, with his May 2018 restoration of voting rights to over 24,000 parolees. (This just happened to occur a few months before Cuomo's reelection — no coincidence, of course...)
Then came the July 2019 Bail Reform Law, gleefully promoted and signed off on by Cuomo, which lets people accused of committing over 50 types of major crime go home after arrest until trial and reduces jail sentences for many crimes. Along with this came New York State's discovery law reform, which requires, among other things, that prosecutors disclose personal contact information to accused perpetrators within 15 days after arraignment, and that the accused can be granted access to the private premises where the crimes were committed. To quote from the New York City Daily News:
Prosecutors will no longer be able to assure witnesses that their identity will be protected, even in the case of grand jury testimony, which the new law will now require be disclosed. (While there's a provision to ask a judge for a protective order to shield a name, that would come after cops and prosecutors talk to witnesses to make an arrest and build a case.)As an apparent result of these insane reforms, MS-13 gang members clubbed a man to death last week; this man was slated to testify against these ruthless beasts for a 2018 violent assault on three people, but his identity had been recently disclosed to the MS-13 members' defense team, as required by the new law. Immediately after this disclosure, the gang members started to pursue and attack their accuser, whom they then killed.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance put it this way: "Having to hand defendants a roster of who has spoken out against them just 15 days after their first appearance, absent a protective order, is a seismic change that undoubtedly will dissuade witnesses who live in all neighborhoods from reporting crime."
It gets worse. The new law increases the likelihood of defendants being granted access to the locations — stores, bank vaults, bedrooms — where they are accused of committing crimes. In a section entitled, "Order to grant access to premises," the law stipulates that the defense may apply for "access to an area or place relevant to the case in order to inspect, photograph, or measure same." A judge can exercise discretion about access, but the provision appears to establish a presumption of material necessity for "preparation of the case" by the defense.
Acting Queens DA John Ryan asks, "How do we tell a burglary complainant that the defendant may have the right to come into her house with an investigator to take pictures?" Beyond taking pictures, the law seems to permit the defendant to "inspect" the premises, presumably to undertake his own investigation of the crime scene. Thus a suspected home invader and rapist could be permitted to poke around the same room where he committed his crimes.
Accused criminals let free on the spot under the new Bail Reform Law have gone straight from the police stations where they were released to immediately commit more crimes, such as attempted rape, anti-Semitic attacks, and bank heists. Among the many people released immediately back into society under this brilliant new "progressive" law is a twice-convicted bank-robber and drug-dealer, who the Nassau County D.A. declared is a menace to society.
Since the Bail Reform Law took effect on January 1, major crimes in New York City have experienced an unprecedented spike.
One would expect that, seeing the death, crime, and chaos ushered in by the Bail Reform Law and discovery reform, Governor Andrew Cuomo would convene the state Legislature for an emergency session and invoke repeal or major overhaul of these lethal new laws.
What has Cuomo done? Basically nothing. The best we could get from him is this:
Reform is an ongoing process. It's not that you reform a system once and then you walk away. You make change in a system, it has consequences. And you have to understand those consequences[.] ... We need to respond to the facts but not the politics, we need to act on information and not hyperbole[.] ... Let's understand facts, understand the consequences, discuss it intelligently, rationally and in a sober way, and then let's make the decisions that we need to make. And we'll do that as we move forward over these coming weeks.People are being killed and attacked. Crime is skyrocketing. It is clear that Cuomo does not really care.
Two weeks ago, violent anti-police rioters vandalized and ransacked subway stations across New York City. The cost of the damage (and fare evasion committed by the rioters) to New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) was $100,000. Since the MTA is a state agency, one would expect Governor Cuomo to weigh in, condemning the violence and calling for the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators and charging them for the gross monetary damages. What did Cuomo say or do? Nothing.
Cuomo has become the best friend of criminals, turning a blind eye to their deeds and abetting them in ways never before imagined. (Not to mention Cuomo's silence on New York State's record population decline and other massive problems. Or his irresponsible "Green Light Law," authorizing driver licenses to illegal aliens and banning federal law enforcement agencies from accessing these people's information from the state DMV database, resulting in the well understood suspension of Global Entry and Trusted Traveler Programs for New York, due to serious security concerns.)
As I listen to Cuomo bark out rash and vague platitudes these days, lacking substance and dripping with clichés and offenses, sounding like a bully as he blames others and fails to address the issues, I realize that he has become an incarnation of his late father — only much worse.
Avrohom Gordimer is chairman of the Rabbinic Circle at Coalition for Jewish Values, and he serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications. He is also a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar. By day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan.
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