A New York state Democrat has filed charges for removing the name of former Gov. Mario Cuomo from a $3.9 billion bridge over the Hudson River after his son Andrew resigned following allegations of sexual harassment.
The younger Cuomo served as governor when the bridge was built to replace the now dismantled Tappan Zee, with many lawmakers and area residents questioning the process of naming the bridge in his late father’s honor without public participation.
“It’s nothing against the Cuomos,” said State Senator James Skoufis, D-Woodbury. He added that the process of originally renaming the bridge was “inappropriate” and that he would support dedicating another bridge, tunnel or street to the former New York governor.
“There was no public contribution, there was no feedback. And if they did, the governor’s office would have heard that people didn’t want the name changed,” Skoufis added. “And that’s why we’re trying to correct that mistake with this bill.”
The three-mile bridge was originally named Tappan Zee since it opened in 1955, but was renamed after the three-time governor of New York in 2017 after a new bridge was built to replace the original. Mario Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1995, resigning after the 1994 election in a loss to Republican challenger George Pataki.
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Republicans have campaigned for the name change for several years, but Skoufis assumed responsibility after taking his seat and inheriting it from his predecessor, Republican Sen. Mike Martucci.
“Everyone in the Hudson Valley still calls the bridge Tappan Zee, and for good reason,” Skoufis told the New York Post in February. “It is the rightful name.”
A last-term attempt to pass the law failed in April, but sponsors believe the law could have greater success as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is responsible for passing the final measure.
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Hochul did not commit to the measure, saying it had to “pass legislation before it caught my attention,” ABC 7 reported.
Two New York State Assembly Democrats from the Hudson Valley have expressed differing opinions on the bill, with Ken Zebrowski supporting it and MaryJane Shimsky arguing it is a distraction from “prioritizing our time and energy to do more of our crumbling roads and bridges.” to repair”.
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Skoufis stressed that the bill would need an assembly sponsor, likely a Democrat, to get it through the legislature, which is two-thirds Democratic. Without the sponsor, the bill would likely have to be passed as an addendum to the budget due in April or as part of an omnibus, The Journal News reported.
Four Democrats sponsored the bill in the convention last year, and Rep. John McGowan, R-Pearl River, said he will work with “everyone, Republican or Democrat” to ensure it succeeds.
“The reality is being a Republican and trying to pass legislation is a lot harder than it is for my majority peers,” McGowan told the Post, adding that “good ideas are good ideas.”
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The measure has garnered growing support following allegations of sexual misconduct by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo reportedly pushed lawmakers to adopt the name as part of a nightly push into a grand omnibus bill in 2017 as the structure neared completion.