The mayor of Syracuse has fired another salvo in her war of words with the Governor over what the state should do to aid local governments in fiscal distress. Stephanie Miner, in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, again blasted the Governor's idea, allowing local governments to borrow to pay some future pension costs. YNN's Bill Carey says it's unclear whether the mayor is winning or losing the battle.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Again and again, Syracuse's mayor has refused to walk away from a fight with the state's powerful governor. Complaining that Andrew Cuomo's proposal to allow local governments to borrow to cover continuing high pension costs is a "gimmick" and "reckless."
“Why am I doing this? Because I am deeply concerned about the future of the city and our ability to pay for services,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said.
Cuomo's only public response to date has been to remind Miner that his proposal is an "option." That if she doesn't like the idea, she doesn't have to use pension smoothing. Miner says the state has to do more.
Miner said, “New York State has really made decisions about our pensions, about our employee regulations, about our bargaining. And they have made costs unmanageable for us. And so they have a responsibility to meet us and help solve this.”
The mayor says the Governor can show real leadership by opening up a serious discussion of what to do as more than 430 local governments are being termed "fiscally distressed" by the state comptroller's office.
“Get everybody around a table. Get mayors, county executives, unions, business groups, citizen groups around a table and say, we cannot afford to have the cities and the counties across this state become fiscally insolvent such as they can't provide key services,” Miner said.
One of the remaining unanswered questions is how this dust up between the mayor and the governor will be resolved. Andrew Cuomo has already said that he has no plans to replace Miner as co-chair of the state democratic party.
For her part, Mayor Miner says the dispute is not personal. That it deals with survival of local governments. Has she talked directly to the Governor about the issue?
“We're talking, I'm talking to his folks, yeah,” Miner said.
“His folks, How about the Governor himself?” our reporter asked.
Miner replied, “I have not talked to the Governor, himself, but that's not unusual.”
But the mayor has delivered another tough message directly to the Governor and indicates she is not backing down.
The Cuomo administration's Operations Director did respond to the Miner Op-Ed. In a radio interview, Howard Glaser indicating the state cannot just give more monies to cities. He repeated a previous message to the mayor, that if she can't control fiscal problems and doesn't want to use the Governor's plan, she should request a financial control board to take over city budgeting. Miner has rejected that idea.