Change the players, change the game!
Just a year ago, it would have been unthinkable for then-Mayor Bill de Blasio to appear alongside the famously mercurial and now disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a ribbon cutting for LaGuardia Airport.
But their successors — Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams — appeared jovially alongside each other at Thursday’s ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the last piece of the new Terminal B project, despite a growing rift over whether to scale back the state’s controversial bail reforms.
“I want to thank someone we’ve working very closely with, in the trenches together to protect New Yorkers and make sure that we executed an incredible vision for this entire community; I want to thank our great Mayor Eric Adams for joining us here today,” Hochul introduced the new mayor to the assembled guests.
Adams took the podium and was similarly complimentary.
“We love seeing the governor as part of the city because she always comes with a checkbook,” Adams joked.
“So, we love having you here,” he said of Hochul.
Port Authority Chairman Rick Cotton told The Post it was the first time he could ever remember a New York mayor and governor both appearing at ribbon cutting together.
“You cannot do big projects like this without the support of the senior elected officials – both in terms of the city, the state and the community,” said Cotton, in a veiled shot at Cuomo, who appointed him to his powerful position.
“What I would say in terms of the presence of Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams here today, that is enormously important and enormously impactful in our ability to move those projects forward.”
It’s a sea change from the fractious relationships that have often defined the principals running City Hall and the State Capitol: Gov. Nelson Rockefeller famously hated fellow Republican, Mayor John Lindsay; Gov. Mario Cuomo was a bitter opponent of fellow Democrat, Mayor Ed Koch; ditto with Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who actually endorsed Cuomo over Pataki in the 1994 election.
Longtime political observers hoped during the early days of the shared Cuomo and de Blasio tenure that the pattern could change.
It didn’t. De Blasio came to view Cuomo as unprincipled and transactional, a “bully” more interested in accumulating power for the sake of wielding it against his enemies than anything else. Cuomo thought de Blasio was an ideologue more interested in grand pronouncements than running government.
The slights were many. For instance, the Port Authority is run by the governors of New York and New Jersey — and Cuomo gave little thought to sharing the limelight with de Blasio when it came to projects that improved the city’s airports.
De Blasio also was not invited to the ribbon cutting for the Second Avenue Subway, which was built by the Cuomo-controlled MTA.
But the rivalry turned far more toxic during the COVID-19 outbreak as Cuomo used his powerful office to undercut de Blasio at every turn, often at great cost to the public.
He refused to shut down New York City for a week amid the initial coronavirus outbreak because it was initially de Blasio’s idea; and even went so far as barring state health officials from working directly with city health officials during the pandemic.
Cuomo resigned from office in August as he faced likely impeachment from state lawmakers over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted nearly a dozen women; misused government resources to write his pandemic memoir, for which he received a $5 million advance; and misled the public about the coronavirus death toll, particularly in nursing homes.
Hochul, meanwhile, was at times giddy about the LaGuardia upgrade.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve done transforming JFK into one of the greatest airports in the world. And also just saying, What about LaGuardia? And I do want to thank someone who helped put a little spotlight on this back in 2014, at least around Feb. 5th or 6th and I wish I had a blindfold, but I’m going to let this serve its purpose,” said Hochul who then used her COVID-19 facemask to cover her eyes.
“We’re going to invite President Biden here and when he takes off the blindfold, and sees this, he’ll know that we listened. We engaged and we made sure that yes, this is the best place in the world and those are not just my words.”
Biden, back in 2014 when he was vice president, likened LaGuardia to “a Third-World country.”