Jerry Kremer

The summer whizzed past. Strap in for what’s ahead.


I think everyone will concede that the summer went by too quickly. But despite the speed at which two months have passed, the world around us continued to function, and both good and bad things happened. In this short period of time, New Yorkers have seen the resignation of their governor and our first major storm experience. The weeks and months ahead will no doubt present us with new challenges.
We have a new governor, Kathy Hochul, who has hit the ground running, and established herself as a major political figure. She has appointed a number of highly experienced staff members, and will make many more changes in order to erase the Cuomo footprint. Her new head of the Department of Financial Services is Adrienne Harris, who has worked as a special assistant to the White House and a senior adviser in the U.S. Treasury Department. DFS is a complex agency, and needs a level-headed leader.
Hochul has not been reluctant to wade into controversial areas. She has signed an executive order to require masks in all schools, and is pushing hard to get unvaccinated New Yorkers to get their shots as soon as possible. She called a special session of the Legislature to extend the eviction moratorium and also to move forward on the legalization of marijuana. Up to this point, the state had done a miserable job of distributing federal funds to New Yorkers who are behind on their rent.
Like many appointed public officials who plan to seek election to their new positions, she has a short time to establish herself as a strong governor, in the hope that she can ward off a 2022 primary challenge. The legislative leaders are making a sincere attempt to work with her, many out of relief that the Cuomo era is over. But time will tell whether they can work as an effective team, because Albany is a place where egos can collide on a moment’s notice.
While many of us were lounging on a beach or escaping on a golf course, politicians around the country were doing loads of mischief. Despite the fact that at least six states were all but drowning in Covid cases thanks to the Delta variant, their governors were busy banning mask mandates and telling everyone to make believe the disease had disappeared. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state is racking up new cases, is actively battling school districts and cruise lines, who are just trying to keep people of all ages from getting sick.

The so-called red state governors are having a field day passing laws intended to restrict people from voting and to ban virtually all abortions. To date, over 400 laws have been introduced in 38 states to restrict the general public’s, and especially minorities’, opportunities to vote. The Texas legislature has passed a law banning abortions six weeks after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Having four daughters, I’ve learned that most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that stage.
In June, a number of states with Republican governors decided that people were declining to go to work because they were getting an extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits. Assuming that those people were all a bunch of slackers, state officials decided to stop giving out the federal dollars, assuming that this would force the recipients to leave home and go back to work. Their judgment has proven wrong, as unemployment statistics haven’t changed, and the people who were staying home continued to do so.
A final note about who’s running for public office these days. It seems that during the past year, there were 23 new people elected to the State Legislature. Only six had any government experience, and four had held a job in the private sector. That left 13 who came into public office with few if any credentials. There’s no moral to this story. It’s just circumstantial evidence that it’s hard to find experienced people to run for office, and that’s a big loss for all of us.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?