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Officials go after Cuomo’s powers

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulton County Board of Supervisors committee on Monday passed a proposed resolution calling on the state Legislature to curtail Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency order authority.

“There’s a big call for that,” said county Administrative Officer Jon Stead.

The Public Safety Committee took the action, which is subject to final approval March 8 by the full board. Voting no was Democratic Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born.

Stead told the Public Safety Committee that since supervisors discussed taking this action weeks ago, the subject of Cuomo’s emergency orders have gained “more notoriety.”

“I think it’s time,” Stead said.

He said the governor’s continued renewal of emergency orders increases the chances they have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That part has gotten out of control,’ Stead said.

As part of the agenda item, Stead recounted how on March 3, 2020, state laws were amended to permit Cuomo to issue by executive order any directive necessary to respond to a state of emergency, including disease outbreak. Stead said that four days later — on March 7, 2020 — declared a statewide disaster emergency to address the threat that COVID posed to health and welfare. He said the overriding concern is to slow the spread of the disease, save lives and not overwhelm the capacity and resources of the medical system in New York state.

But Stead said New York’s State of Emergency first set Sept. 7, 2020 has been extended five times — the most recent on Dec. 30 that was in effect until Jan. 29.

“The governor has used emergency powers to execute non-emergency policy,” the proposed resolution said.

Stead said Fulton County is taking this action because Cuomo’s “broad response” has come with great economic and social cost and has infringed on the basic freedoms of Fulton County residents.

The current issue impacting Cuomo related to the alleged under-reporting of nursing home deaths by the Cuomo Administration is “separate” from this concern over emergency order authority, Stead said.

But Stead said he believes the state Department of Health from March to May 2020 payed “little or no attention” to nursing homes during the early days of the pandemic. Without mentioning the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare by name, he noted the county had a “huge outbreak” at one of its nursing homes.

Born told the committee she objected to the proposed resolution because she felt Cuomo actually handled the pandemic very well – an example for other states to follow.

“I think Gov. Cuomo saved a lot of lives in our county,” the supervisor said.

Other states didn’t follow New York state’s lead in shutting down early, she said, adding “look what happened to Florida.”

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