As Gov. Andrew Cuomo gears up for his 2018 re-election bid with a fundraising trip to the West Coast, a controversy has unfolded over the naming of the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Last June, at Gov. Cuomo's behest, lawmakers voted to rename the bridge after Cuomo's father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. But there is now a movement to revoke that name. State House Reporter Zack Fink filed the following report.
On Tuesday morning, Gov. Cuomo woke up 3,000 miles away in California to a headline in his hometown New York Post newspaper: "Cuono! Thousands petition to remove Mario's name from bridge."
The controversy about Cuomo and the state legislature renaming the new Tappan Zee Bridge after Cuomo's father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, erupted as Cuomo was fundraising for his re-election effort next year.
More than 50,000 people have now signed the petition calling for the Cuomo Bridge to go back to being the Tappan Zee.
"People want to have ownership over the bridge that they are paying for through tolls and taxes," said Doug Kellogg of Reclaim New York. "And, again, they are seeing this bridge renamed before they get answers on what they are going to pay in tolls and taxes."
But it is also the way in which the bridge was renamed, without public input. You have to go back to last June, when lawmakers were looking to close out the extended legislative session.
The renaming of the bridge was stuffed into a 72-page bill that also included a highway being named for Republican State Sen. Bill Larkin, and a park for Democratic State Assemblyman Denny Farrell. The Assembly passed that bill in the middle of the night on the final night of session.
"Look, it's a pattern that is way too frequent," Kellogg said. "That's one reason Reclaim New York Initiative ran a poll and saw upwards of close to 80 percent of respondents were upset with not just the bridge renaming but the way it was done."
The Cuomo Administration pointed to a Siena Poll from September that found that 44 percent of respondents favored naming the bridge after Mario Cuomo. 42 percent were not in favor.
In statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "There is no doubt that these are politically partisan comments. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans and it is a fitting tribute to a life-long public servant who achieved great things for the people of New York."
Reclaim New York, which has polled the Westchester and Hudson Valley residents on their feelings about the bridge renaming, is funded by the Mercer Family, which has ties to the Republican Party and President Trump.