NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — On the local, state and national fronts, 2015 was filled with tragedies, feuds and controversies in political news.
It was New Year’s Day when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated for a second term. The bare-bones ceremony was switched from Albany to the World Trade Center site because the governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, lay dying.READ MORE: Columbia University Student Davide Giri Stabbed To Death Near Morningside Park; Suspected Gang Member In Custody, Sources Say
“My father is in this room. He’s in the heart and mind of every person who is here,” the younger Cuomo said.
The senior Cuomo – who served as the state’s 52nd governor from 1983 through 1994 – passed away just hours later.
Thousands of people packed the funeral service for Mario Cuomo, with rows of gray-clad New York State Police troopers forming an honor guard. Luminaries who attended the service included Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“In the end, it was not so much the eloquence of his words that spoke to us, but the eloquence of his life, and the world is a sadder place today without him,” the Rev. George M. Witt, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church, said of Mario Cuomo at the funeral on Jan. 6.
Thousands also attended several other high-profile public funerals for fallen police officers.
On Dec. 20 of last year in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot at point-blank range through their cruiser window. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, then killed himself with the same weapon. He had posted on Instagram that he wanted to put “wings on pigs” and referenced Eric Garner, whose police chokehold death led to protests against the NYPD.
Ramos’ funeral was held on Dec. 27 of last year, Liu’s on Jan. 4 of this year.
The murder of the officers tore through the fabric of the city and created a political nightmare for Mayor Bill de Blasio, CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.
Unions representing police officers questioned the mayor’s support – having officers turn their backs on the mayor when he spoke at the officers’ funerals – while some New York City residents questioned their safety.
Two more NYPD officers would be shot and killed in 2015.
A suspect, Demetrius Blackwell, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting.
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On Oct. 20, Officer Randolph Holder was shot in the head and killed outside a housing project in East Harlem. Holder was responding to a report of shots fired and a bicycle stolen at gunpoint when he was killed, police said.
“What makes a police officer? Is it courage? Is it compassion? Is it the calling? I would say to you, it’s all of these. All things make a cop – but one thing most of all – we keep people safe. It’s what we do,” police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at Holder’s funeral. “It’s what Police Officer Randolph Holder did so proudly throughout his all too brief career. Keeping people safe is what brought Randy to the job.”
Tyrone Howard, 31, pleaded not guilty to numerous charges in the case, including aggravated murder and robbery.
Critics noted that Howard was a drug-dealing career criminal who had been out on a diversion program at the time.
Meanwhile, top leaders of the New York State Legislature were indicted on corruption charges and later convicted.
Prosecutors alleged that Silver devised schemes to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for using his office to support a cancer researcher and real estate developers. In closing arguments at his trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein detailed one quid-pro-quo deal in which he said Dr. Robert Taub steered his patients with cancer caused by asbestos to Silver’s law firm, allowing the powerful Democrat and lawyer to secure more than $3 million in referral fees from lucrative personal injury claims.
On Dec. 11, former state Senate Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam Skelos, were also convicted on all charges in an unrelated case. They were found guilty of eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.
The once-powerful Republican from Long Island was accused of using his office to extort about $300,000 in salary and other benefits for his son. Prosecutors also alleged Skelos accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers in exchange for political favors.
Prosecutors said the tapes were proof the pair schemed behind the scenes to pressure three companies – medical malpractice insurer Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, developer Glenwood Management, and environmental tech firm AbTech Industries — into agreeing to employ Adam Skelos.
There was a mysterious $20,000 commission paid to Adam Skelos, and a $70,000 no-show job.
“Our unfinished fight against corruption continues,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said following Silver’s arrest back in January. “You should stay tuned.”
And the race to succeed President Barack Obama in 2016 got off to a spirited start, with several local candidates getting into the act.First Case Of Omicron Variant Reported In New Jersey
“Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” Clinton said in an April video announcement. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
The Democratic campaign has pitted Clinton against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), a Brooklyn native. The two have clashed over U.S. involvement in the Middle East, gun control and economic policy, but in the first Democratic debate in October, Sanders leapt to Clinton’s defense on the issue of her controversial email practices as secretary of state.
“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders exclaimed as the crowd in Las Vegas roared with applause. A smiling Clinton reached over to shake his hand and said, “Thank you.”
On the Republican side, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his candidacy for the presidential nomination in June.
“I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America,” Christie said at the time. “America is tired of hand-wringing and indecisiveness and weakness in the Oval Office. We need to have strength and decision making and authority back in the Oval Office, and that is why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America.”
Former New York State Gov. George Pataki also jumped into the race, although his polling numbers have left him in “undercard” debates.
And of course, New York businessman and Queens native Donald Trump has been grabbing headlines – and drawing bouquets and brickbats – ever since he announced his candidacy on June 16.
At his presidential kickoff event, Trump drew scorn and lost contracts when he said some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime into the U.S.
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said at the event. “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over south and Latin America and it’s coming, probably, from the Middle East, but we don’t know because we have no protection.”
Trump said he would “build a great, great wall” along the Mexican border, and would demand that Mexico pay for the wall.
The high-profile controversies over Trump’s progressed through the summer and fall. Earlier this month, Trump said last week that Muslims – tourists and immigrants alike – should be kept out of the United States.
“We just can’t afford anymore to be so politically correct,” Trump said at the time.
In local New York City politics, Mayor de Blasio railed against Gov. Cuomo when the mayor did not get what he hoped to receive from Albany.
In June, de Blasio accused Cuomo of seeking to undermine the city’s agenda and doling out political retribution.
De Blasio said he believed the Democratic governor holds substantial influence over the Republican-led Senate’s leadership, which led to several measures the mayor had been pushing for during the recent legislative session being watered down.
The mayor had hoped for tougher rent regulations than what was passed. He was seeking a total overhaul of a tax break for real estate developers, which the Legislature agreed to extend for six months. He didn’t want more charter schools; lawmakers authorized 50 new ones. And he sought permanent mayoral control of city schools, but a minimum of three years; he received a one-year extension.
De Blasio took particular exception with the mayoral control issue, noting his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, initially received a seven-year term and then a six-year extension.
“How on earth does the city of New York get only one-year extension of mayoral control education?” de Blasio told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb, on June 30. “Oh by the way, does that have something to do with the fact that the mayor is now a Democrat and a progressive? Of course.”
Cuomo responded a week later that he’d rather bite his tongue than air his frustrations publicly.
“It’s clear that (de Blasio’s) style is to air his public frustration. Everybody has their own style. I don’t choose to do that,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo suggested de Blasio didn’t know how to play the game in Albany where, unlike New York City, there are Republicans, CBS2’s Kramer reported in July.
“You don’t have to deal with those annoying issues of partisanship and getting two sides to agree,” the governor said.
The Cuomo-de Blasio relationship was soured to the point where at every turn, Cuomo seemed to find a way to bigfoot the situation, Kramer reported.
In August, Cuomo beat de Blasio to announcing preventative measures in the wake of a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the South Bronx. Cuomo’s office at the time said the statewide regulations were drafted in consultation with City Hall and the City Council.
And in November, Cuomo slammed de Blasio on the issue of homelessness.
De Blasio had recently issued a $2.6 billion proposal to help curb the city’s growing homelessness problem. The program aims to add 15,000 new affordable-living housing units, as well as create resource programs like job placement and mental health services for those trying to get off of the streets.
Cuomo denounced the plan on Nov. 24, saying: “This is not about throwing money at the problem. This is about understanding the problem and understanding the issue and managing the government to provide the services you need.”
Cuomo is promising his own solutions to the homelessness crisis to allay the fears in city residents. They will appear in his January budget.MORE NEWS: NYPD: 1 Dead, Another Injured In Apparent Drug-Related Shooting At Brooklyn Airbnb
As Kramer reported, the rival plans to deal with homelessness likely guarantee that the Cuomo-de Blasio feud will continue into 2016.