New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference about recalled Toyota cars February 24, 2010 in New York City. Cuomo, thought to be a possible candidate for New York governor, has reached an agreement with the car company to provide Toyota owners in New York with alternative transportation and other perks in the aftermath of the massive recall of Toyota automobiles.
As he walked through the marble halls, he recalled, Cuomo was impressed by the size and beauty of the building. But what impressed him more was the work being done by those working in the offices.
Hugh Carey was Governor then. Cuomo's father, Mario, was Lt. Governor. As he made his way through the building, Cuomo said, he began to think that one day, maybe he could do what they did. Maybe one day he could work in public office. Maybe he could work for the community.
"Maybe one day," he said.
His one day, as the 56th Governor of New York, has come. But it wont be an easy stroll.
The state is facing a deficit of as much as $1 billion and a projected deficit of about $10 billion in the budget due April 1. The people of the state, Cuomo pointed out, have lost trust in the government--and he said he doesn't blame them.
Before the inauguration ceremony at noon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a private meeting with his cabinet at 8:30 a.m, the first listing in a public schedule that showed his resolve to tackle the state's fiscal and ethical crises.
"The words 'government in Albany' has become a national punchline," he said, standing at the podium. "And the joke is on us."
Cuomo's low-key inaugural ceremony began with the swearing in of other state-wide officials. New Attorney General Eric Schneiderman passed on a handshake with Chief Judge Lippman, opting for a passionate fist bump instead. New State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, the former mayor of Rochester, were sworn in right after.
Governor Cuomo, who was officially sworn in yesterday during a private ceremony and effectively became Governor at midnight. He took to the stage this afternoon flanked by his father, his mother Matilda, his three daughters and his girlfriend, Food Network chef and host Sandra Lee. He received a standing ovation before speaking at the podium, offering a long list of thanks. He thanked his father, for teaching him everything he knows. And he made special note of showing gratitude to outgoing Governor David Paterson, a man he said "became captain of the ship just as the ship was heading into a storm." He then explained why the ceremony was kept small.
"I dont think a grand or lavish ceremony would be appropriate," he said. "When we actually do something and perform and help the people in the state of New York and make governement function--then we're going to have a big party and celebrate. Not before."
With that, he launched into his plans to fix the ailing state, from the top down.
"We have a very specific mandate for change that the people want," he said, noting that the people of the state elected him to bring about this change. He said he plans to produce a property tax cap to help New Yorkers burdened with rising costs and prevent the state from becoming the "tax capital" of the nation.
Cuomo said he will unveil an "emergency financial reinvention plan" in his State of the State Address next week, one that will reduce the size of state and local government and help to carry New York out of debt.
"It's going to be difficult," he admitted, "but I believe we can do it, First we have to start with a new attitude that reflects a new reality."
The new reality is bleak, he added, and said it would not be easy. But he promised he would not waste any more time, and would introduce a "bold agenda" for immediate action.
"No more baby steps, my friends," he said. "We need change, and we need it now."
He promised more transparency and openness in Albany, a city that had been "shrouded in a veil a secrecy", one that listened not to the people but to special interests and lobbyists. Cuomo promised a new bi-partisan partnership, one that would work towards a common goal of prosperity and fixing government.
"We are not first Democrats, Republicans or Independents--we are first New Yorkers, and we must act that way," he said, which resulted in rousing applause.
The Governor was at times passionate, a change from the usual reserved and quiet demeanor he displayed on the campaign trail. He vowed to open up the Capitol--not just theoretically, but physically, by removing barriers from State Street outside and encouraging people to come tour the beautiful building and see what happens in the capital.
"We need the people to join me," he said, in his plan to rebuild the broken government he is now in charge of. He said he will do this by bringing back confidence, integrity, people of talent, professionalism, decorum, and respect.
"Rebuild it by bringing back what this government was," he said, perhaps thinking of his first time walking in the building, "and rebuild it to what this government needs to be once again."