BUFFALO, New York–New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo refused to take the blame for problems relating to the Common Core educational standards among other issues at a candidates debate forum hosted by WNED in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
Westchester County Executive Republican Rob Astorino, Libertarian Mike McDermott, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins joined the governor.
“Cuomo’s Common Core has been an unmitigated disaster. Everyone admits that. The rollout was terrible. The implementation is terrible. This is the federal government guiding decisions in our own classrooms in New York,” Republican nominee Rob Astorino said. “I would replace Common Core with better standards produced right here in New York, by our own educators, by our own teachers.”
“I have nothing to do with Common Core,” Cuomo said. Common Core is established by the Board of Regents, which is established by the legislature. I don’t appoint anyone to the Board of Regents, I have absolutely nothing to do with it,” Cuomo said. “The only thing I did do with Common Core was I stopped the grading of Common Core because I agree with Mr. McDermott. It was chaotic, it caused anxiety, it caused stress.”
Mike McDermott, the Libertarian nominee who thanked Governor Cuomo for getting him on to the debate stage complained, “I have a nine-year-old. We go through three hours of homework every night. I end up having to do most of it for her because she doesn’t get it. Unfortunately, I don’t get it either. I read it, I don’t understand it.”
When asked about a previous remark he made this year about conservatives not being welcomed in New York, Cumo replied, “The ultraconservative philosophy that is being put forth by Mr. Astorino I think disrespects women because it takes away a woman’s right to choose. I think it disrespects minorities. I think it disrespects immigrants… I think it disrespects gays by being against marriage equality.” He added, “That’s not who New Yorkers are.”
Cuomo hit Astorino over a Housing and Urban Development racial discrimination suit that Astorino’s County of Westchester is fighting. According to reports, Astorino is against HUD’s rule for the county to create low-income housing, because the agency bans landlords from rejecting tenants if their source of income is public assistance or another government subsidy. Additionally, Astorino has said HUD is violating local zoning regulations.
“Westchester County is the only county in the United States that’s being sued for discrimination. It’s been going on for years, and they were fined 20 million dollars, and it’s in the state of New York and to me that’s a disgrace. The New York Times has a line that it’s an ultra-white county that has been discriminating for decades.”
When asked by Breitbart News if he believed the independent studies of the zoning in Westchester were bogus, and if he plans to move out of Westchester himself, Cuomo responded, “The federal government is saying it’s bogus. Because when the federal government says he’s violating the federal law, they’re saying it’s bogus and his point–we had a civil war. There is a federal government and it supersedes the states and civil rights laws are federal. It’s not the people of Westchester. It’s him.”
“It’s an easy charge for him to make but it’s false,” Astorino told reporters. “The people of Westchester know it’s false.”
Astorino and Cuomo also traded jabs on the Moreland Commission controversy Cuomo found himself embroiled in when he appointed an independent panel to investigate government corruption, which he later dismantled.
“There was no abrupt stopping. I wanted the commission to get a law passed. That’s why I impaneled it,” Cuomo said. “I said to the legislature, when you pass the law, the commission would go away. They passed the law. The law has an independent enforcement agent.”
“Andrew Cuomo pretended to be the reformer, the white knight, that was going to clean up the corruption in Albany. He called it an embarrassment, and he was right,” said Astorino. “Unfortunately, right now, he is swimming in the cesspool of corruption, so much so that we have a state where only in New York can the anti-corruption commission have already been corrupted.”
“We should ban fracking because it’s [a] danger to the climate,” Hawkins said. “And it does pollute the water and the land. We already know that from what we’ve seen in Pennsylvania and around the country.”
Astorino responded, “Thirty five states have natural gas, 34 are safely drilling and their economies are booming.” He added, “Let’s look at what’s going on in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota. We can do that here in New York.”
“I’m not a scientist,” Cuomo replied “Let the scientists decide. It’s very complicated, very controversial, academic studies come out all different ways. Let the experts decide.”
Astorino trails Cumo by 20 points in the latest Siena poll. However, Cuomo’s favorability is at an all-time low.