NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Governor-in-waiting Kathy Hochul arrived in the Big Apple on Tuesday, one week before she’ll formally take the oath of office, to begin getting her arms around the enormous problems facing the city.
CBS2 cameras were the only ones there when she entered the building for a series of key meetings.
Hochul’s schedule tells a lot about the issues she’s concerned about, the people she needs to work with. There was a sit-down with Mayor Bill de Blasio, an intriguing meeting with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, but first a meeting with parents and educators to discuss how to get kids safely back to school, Marcia Kramer reported.
You could see the determination in Hochul’s steps as she marched into the building that houses the governor’s New York office. Coffee thermos in one hand, mask in the other, and a serious blue pantsuit were each a sign that she was intent on the job at hand — a series of private meetings to help her get up to speed on the pandemic and the city’s economic recovery.
Her first task was a roundtable meeting with parents and educators to deal with the critical issue of reopening city schools safely.
During his mid-morning press conference, Mayor de Blasio made it clear his message to the incoming chief executive is that despite the misgivings of some parents and teachers, he wants everyone back in the classroom and no remote learning.
“It’s in the interest of children, including their health and safety, their mental health, their physical health, to be back in school,” de Blasio said. “Remote education just could not substitute for the real thing.”
And while de Blasio and Hochul have a joint interest in discussing ways for the city to recover economically from the pandemic, the mayor said he also wanted to talk about the slow pace of congestion pricing. He is furious MTA officials said Monday it would take 16 months to complete a required environmental assessment.
“Do I buy that timeline? No. I’d like to meet the person who thinks 16 months is expedited. Everyone’s got to go faster,” de Blasio said. “I mean, this is crazy.”
For many, the most intriguing part of the day was Hochul’s decision to meet with Public Advocate Williams, who ran against her in the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. There is speculation that Williams, the darling of the left wing of the party, is one of several under consideration by Hochul to be named her lieutenant governor. Kramer asked de Blasio about the meeting.
“I don’t read anything into that, per se. I think it’s smart for her to meet with leaders from all over the state,” de Blasio said. “Having a lieutenant governor from New York City makes sense.”
De Blasio’s complaints about congestion pricing provoked an angry response. An MTA spokesperson tartly pointed out that the time frame was developed with the mayor’s own Department of Transportation. He blamed de Blasio for causing further delays.
This may be the first dispute Gov. Hochul will have to settle.