Cuomo: Remorse, but No Resignation

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It’s Thursday.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a stiff breeze and a high in the mid-40s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Mar. 28 (Passover).


Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had been keeping a low profile. After allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted kissing, some of his fellow Democrats had called for him to step down.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis and the first anniversary of the start of the pandemic, Mr. Cuomo did not hold a news briefing for nine days. That ended on Wednesday when Mr. Cuomo appeared at a news conference in Albany with comments regarding the allegations.

Along with giving an apology, the governor made one thing clear: “I’m not going to resign.”

[Cuomo, contrite over sexual harassment allegations, refuses to resign.]

Here’s what you need to know:

The details

In recent weeks, three women have come forward. Two were former state workers who accused the governor of sexual harassment, and a third woman accused him of unwanted touching and kissing at a wedding.

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Mr. Cuomo said at the Wednesday news conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say, but that’s the truth.”

He added, twice, that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”

The context

An investigation into the women’s claims will be overseen by the state attorney general, Letitia James.

The allegations came as the governor was facing backlash from Republicans and Democrats over how his administration handled virus-related deaths in nursing homes. After singling out an assemblyman who criticized him over that controversy, Mr. Cuomo’s history of bullying behavior also came under scrutiny.

The precedent

Yesterday’s briefing was not the first statement Mr. Cuomo had made about the allegations. When his former aide Lindsey Boylan published an essay last week accusing Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment, his administration was quick to deny the claims.

Days later, another former aide, the 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, said the governor had asked her a series of sexually charged questions, including if she had slept with older men. Mr. Cuomo, 63, told The Times he never intended “to act in any way that was inappropriate.”

On Sunday, Mr. Cuomo issued something of an apology, saying that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” Many were unsatisfied with that statement, including Ms. Bennett.

The reaction

Ms. Bennett was also unimpressed by the governor’s comments on Wednesday, her lawyer said. At one point during the briefing, Mr. Cuomo said he was specifically apologizing to “the young woman who worked here” but did not say her name.

“The governor’s press conference was full of falsehoods and inaccurate information, and New Yorkers deserve better,” said Debra S. Katz, the prominent harassment lawyer who is representing Ms. Bennett.

Ms. Boylan was also critical of the governor’s comments and apology.


From The Times

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How a Holocaust Survivor Showed Up for a Vaccine and Charmed a Hospital

Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Küçük Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.


What we’re reading

Two Suffolk County police officers were suspended over the kicking of a handcuffed man. [NBC]

New York City restaurants that deferred rent payments to stay afloat during the pandemic may not be able to hisse the money back. [Eater NY]

The police pulled a headless body from New York Bay in Brooklyn. [New York Post]


And finally: Mutual aid groups step in

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

The Times’s Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura writes:

Ariadna Phillips was close to panicking. It was nearing midnight in the Bronx, and she was scrambling to find food for an older woman in the neighborhood who was going hungry after deliveries of federal food aid had run out.

For the past few weeks, Ms. Phillips, 40, who organizes a mutual aid group in the South Bronx, had been working frantically to gather enough food donations for those left in the lurch after a federal program stopped temporarily at the start of the year, and then again, a few weeks later, when it ran into logistical problems.

A year ago, as the pandemic engulfed New York, mutual aid groups like hers quickly formed as stopgaps meant to help tide people over during the worst of the crisis. Mutual aid — a collective, coordinated effort to help those in need — is not new. But the pandemic, the biggest public health disaster in a century, set off a major wave of mutual aid campaigns.

[Read more about New York City’s mutual aid groups.]

“Government aid has reached just a fraction of the people who need it,’’ said Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University. “Millions of Americans are in dire straits today, and mutual aid networks are delivering the goods.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, mutual aid groups helped people with basic necessities like food, clothing and hand sanitizer. But as the crisis has dragged on, the groups have broadened their mission, providing Wi-Fi routers so students can access school, and arranging mental health counseling and even veterinary deva for pets belonging to low-income people.

The volunteer effort can sometimes feel like a full-time job, even though Ms. Phillips is already a high school teacher. “There are many moments where we’re like, ‘You know we’re just regular people, right?’” Ms. Phillips said.

It’s Thursday — lend a hand.


Metropolitan Diary: Coney Island beach

Dear Diary:

Nana’s smile
A torch of sunshine,
Beckoned me,
A gangly 10-year-old
Into that sparkling arena
Of blue water,
Where I followed her,
Dog paddling
Across its endless space
Splashing like a duckling,
Looking back
At the Coney Island Amusement Park
On that sweltering August day
Until Nana,
A bathing-capped New York goddess,
Signaled with one loud clap
The sign
To “get out now”
As oncoming thunder roared
Into a darkening sky.

— Kathryn Anne Sweeney-James


New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

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