Bringing the Upper West Side to Albany

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Schneiderman, Cuomo hold first joint appearance

By Dan Rivoli and Allen Houston

While Republicans made a political comeback around the country, New York State Democrats fared relatively well. is now Governor-elect, Sens. and trounced their GOP opponents and held on to the State Comptroller seat.

Future New York Attorney General and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo had a meeting Nov. 13, where they discussed all of the things that were taking place in the AG’s office right now. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

And with Eric Schneiderman soon to be sworn in as the next attorney general, Upper West Siders were able to elect one of their own to statewide office.

Schneiderman held his first press conference with Cuomo Nov. 13 to discuss how the pair would work together going forward.

“We had our first conversation today and I’m looking forward to many more,” Schneiderman told Cuomo, during a gathering after their meeting. “And as someone who is going to be representing you for a long time, I’m very pleased to see how circumspect you are.”

Schneiderman said that the two talked about all of the things that are currently taking place in the attorney general’s office, as well as the historic role that the office has played throughout New York’s history.

“I intend to work with the governor and to build on his great work,” he said. “Obviously we face significant challenges in this state right now.”

The governor-elect danced around whether he would give Schneiderman any special “executive order powers” to help him battle public corruption and clean up Wall Street.

“That’s something we will talk about going forward,” he said.

Cuomo said that a comprehensive reform package passed by state lawmakers would be a much better tool for taking on Albany, rather than any obscure provisos that he could give to the attorney general.

“The best way to do this is not by a bunch of hodge-podge efforts but by a piece of legislation, passed by the state legislature,” he said. “Everyone who ran said that they were running to clean up Albany, and now they have to do it.”

The governor-elect and the future attorney general agreed that Khalid-Sheik Mohammed, alleged 9/11 mastermind, shouldn’t be tried in New York, though they offered no ideas on another venue.

“I’m against it. Period,” Cuomo said. “Not in New York. Not in New York.”

Added Schneiderman: “I’ve previously said that it shouldn’t happen in New York City.”

He added that the trial shouldn’t take place elsewhere in the state, either.

While they have that in common, the two campaigned under completely separate styles. Cuomo portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative and Schneiderman campaigned as progressive, said Mark Landis, a local Democratic district leader and lawyer.

“He put out a progressive campaign message throughout the primary,” Landis said. “But it was also a pragmatic progressive message… realizing an attorney general is not a chief prosecutor but a chief lawyer for a variety of interests for the people of this state.”

One of his early campaign messages highlighted his work as counsel to the nonprofit West Side Crime Prevention Program. The ad delighted Marjorie Cohen, the nonprofit’s director.

“I’m very proud of the connection to the beginning of his community activism,” Cohen said.

Joan Paylo, a district leader for Schneiderman’s home club Community Free Democrats, said that Schneiderman would have to be front and center when attorneys general from other states tackle national issues.

“Our hometown guy can put that on his shoulders,” Paylo said, “and run with it.”

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