Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, a Republican whose district includes Hoosick Falls, continued to rail against his legislative colleagues for failing to address the community’s water contamination crisis, saying residents there would get more attention if they were minorities living downstate.
A clearly frustrated McLaughlin said he believes “reverse racism” is to blame for the fact that the downstate-dominated and Democrat-controlled Assembly has refused to hold hearings on how the dangerous chemical PFOA ended up in Hoosick Falls’ drinking water and how long the state knew about the situation but declined to do anything about it.
“I will state that I believe that if this took place in Brooklyn, or the Bronx, or down in Queens or somewhere else in New York City that (the Rev.) Al Sharpton and company would be marching in the streets,” McLaughlin said during a Capital Tonight interview last night. “But this is a bunch of upstate people in a rural, remote area, and apparently they don’t count.”
“…They count to me, they matter to me. I want answers. But I would want those same answers if this was taking place in Arbor Hill, or this was taking place in a black community. It doesn’t matter to me what color the votes are.”
The assemblyman didn’t let his fellow Republicans who control the Senate off the hook, either, noting that chamber is run by a Long Islander, John Flanagan, who has also so far declined to heed McLaughlin’s call for hearings.
McLaughlin’s comments came on the heels of a POLITICO New York report that found the Cuomo administration resisted alerting Hoosick Falls residents about the presence of unsafe PFOA levels in their water, even as the EPA insisted that should be done.
According to information obtained by POLITICO’s Scott Waldman through a FOIL request, state health officials told federal regulators they had been monitoring the situation for a year, but didn’t want to “alarm people” by going public with an alert. They also said their differences with the EPA over a safe and acceptable level of contamination was a matter of “philosophy,” not science.
McLaughlin is now calling for a federal investigation into the matter, likening the Hoosick Falls mess to the Flint, Michigan lead contamination water crisis, which gained national attention and resulted in indictments of public officials.
The governor yesterday dismissed the POLITICO story as “a whole political he said, she said,” insisting that he doesn’t know how the state could have been “more aggressive” in addressing the Hoosick Falls matter.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, meanwhile, left the door open for possible hearings in the future, saying: “I still think the main thing is to make sure that the people in Hoosick Falls and around the state are having clean drinking water. And if we still feel the need to look at it through hearings we can do that.”