May 13, 2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 13
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on May 13, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus and vaccine updates for New York here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Andrew Cuomo: (00:03)
Let me introduce the people who are here with me today, on the dais first to my right, a man who needs no introduction, the borough president is, in my opinion, a truly extraordinary public official. My father used to say, God, rest his soul, there are people who go into public service because they like to talk and it’s about their ego, and then there are people in public service who actually have the ability and the desire to make change for people. Your borough president makes change for people and he has transformed the Bronx and transformed lives. It’s my honor to be with him, Ruben Diaz.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:55)
We have Assemblyman Benedetto and we have Senator Jamaal Bailey, they’re my colleagues. They’re my colleagues in Albany. They just passed a budget that I believe, in my opinion, is going to do more good for this state than any budget in decades. It was hard, what they did. Politics today is much more intense and heated than it’s been. When you are in Albany, you have that state legislature, represents the entire state. We have the full political spectrum in New York State, right? There’s politics nationwide, but we have everything in New York. We have the full spectrum. We have the most rabid conservatives you find anywhere, and we have the most rabid socialists you’re going to find everywhere, anywhere.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:56)
To get something done, 213 people, you have to get agreement and conservatives will say, “Well, you’re not conservative enough.” I say, “Yeah, that’s because I’m a Democrat. That’s what the people elected.” The socialists will say, “Well, you’re not bringing socialism to New York.” Yeah, I’m a progressive Democrat, that’s what the people elected. They are loud. They are loud, they didn’t learn the lesson my grandma mother used to teach me. Just because you yell doesn’t mean you’re right. It takes extraordinary leadership to stand up and to stand up for what you believe and to fight for what you believe and to speak up when people are yelling at you and trying to bully you. Senator Bailey, Assemblyman Benedetto, they stand up for what they believe, fight for what they believe. They deliver for the Bronx.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:07)
To my immediate left is Janno Lieber, he is the person who actually has to do the work that we’re all going to talk about today. He makes things happen in government like no one I’ve ever worked with before. These are all complicated projects and it’s very hard to get big projects done. Janno Lieber himself is a transformative doer affective administrator. He’s a nice community oriented Robert Moses is what I think of him. Let’s give him a big round of applause, Janno Lieber. I’d also like to acknowledge Kathy Renaldi, who is here with us, who was the president of Metro North, let’s give her a round of applause. We have council member, Kevin Riley, thank you, and thank you for all your help on this. I want to thank our host, Bernie Cylich from the River Bay board of directors. Thank you very much for being with us today.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:13)
Okay. Let’s talk about today, and almost more importantly, let’s talk about tomorrow. We’re coming through this COVID situation and we’re at a point in history, a moment in time where we’re going to decide our future. Understanding where we are is very important. Coming out of COVID, we have today a 1% positivity rate to report. What does that mean? That’s the lowest level since October 10th, before November, before Thanksgiving, before the holidays. You want to know how low 1% is? You know what the national average is today? 4%. 4% positivity. New York is 1% because New Yorkers stepped up and they did the right thing. Let’s applaud all New Yorkers.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:09)
Hospitalizations are down. The people in ICU units are down. Intubations are down. All the arrows are in the right direction. We’re working very, very hard to keep it that way. People want to say, “Well, COVID is over. COVID is done.” 22 people died yesterday because of COVID. 22 people died. 22 families are grieving today. It’s not over. We’re making progress, but it’s not done. We have more to do. Vaccinations are going to be the key to actually winning this war and getting people vaccinated is everything. We’ve done over 17 million vaccinations in the state. 60% of the people have over one dose, 60%. 50% of the people are fully vaccinated. We’re getting as creative as we can to get people to get vaccines. We just started a new pilot program with the MTA where we said rather than asking people to come to us to get a vaccine, we’ll come to you.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:15)
We’ll find you where you are. You’re going to get on the subway, you’re going to take a bus, we set up vaccine sites in the MTA, in the train station, so if you’re going to get on a train, you’re walking right past the vaccine site. Step into the vaccine site, get a vaccine and you get a Metro card for a week if you get a vaccine. That’s working very well. Just yesterday, over 1000 people got a vaccine. We’re excited about that. We have a lot more work to do. We know that. We feel it. We know we’re making progress, but we know that tomorrow is a question mark. We haven’t been here before. One question everybody asks me, “Well, what is New York going to be like post-COVID? What’s going to happen? How are we going to do after COVID is over?”
Andrew Cuomo: (07:16)
Truth is there is no predestined future. There is no path. Nobody’s been here before. We’re trying to find the place for New York and every other state is doing the same thing. Every other city is doing the same thing, all across the globe. How do you react to COVID? How do you react to Zoom, to remote learning, to people who are now afraid from a public health point of view? How do you recover after wearing this for a year and not socializing with people and not hugging people? How do you recover from the isolation of it? That’s going to be the challenge, but the good news is it’s in our control. Who’s going to determine the future of New York? New Yorkers. You know who I believe in? I believe in New Yorkers.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:09)
Well, COVID hit us hard, yes, COVID hit us hard. COVID hit New York harder than any other state in the nation. We had the highest infection rate in the United States of America. We had the highest infection rate on the globe at one point. Why? Because COVID was coming here for months and nobody knew it because it was landing on planes at LaGuardia and JFK and Newark. It was coming here for months. The federal government had no idea that it was already here. We had people dying of COVID before we knew what it was. Yes, it hit us hard. Yes, we paid a price. Yes, we rose to the occasion. Why? Because in life, the question in life is not, “How do you avoid hardship?” Hardships going to happen in life. Something’s going to happen where life is going to come up and knock you on your rear end.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:16)
Maybe you did something wrong. Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. But, it’s going to happen. Health issue, you lose your job, divorce, something is going to happen. Then, the question becomes, “When you get knocked on your rear end, what do you do?” That’s what defines your character and your personality. You get knocked on your rear end, do you just sit there? Do you lay down on the canvas and stare at the sky? Or, do you get up? If you’re a real New Yorker, you get up. You get up smarter, you get up stronger, you get up more resilient. That’s what we’ve always done. Superstorm Sandy, oh my God the devastation. Yes, but we got up and we got up ever stronger. 9/11, remember the people after 9/11? “Oh, New York will never be the same.” We’re a terrorist target. No one’s going to want to live in New York. I was there. All the naysayers. Forget it. We built back. We built back better than ever before and stronger than ever before. We learned from it. That’s who we are.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:35)
Now you have people saying, oh, the city’s in trouble. City has a real crime problem, which it does. Real issues in New York city. Yes, but we’ve been through worse my friends. People don’t even remember, I’m trying to explain to my daughters who are in their mid-twenties, so they know all the answers, they just don’t know the questions, but they know all the answers in life. What the city was like in the ’70s, what it was like in the ’80s, what the Bronx was like, when they said the Bronx is burning. Look at us now. Yes, you get knocked on your rear end, but you get up better than before and you think big when you get up.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:23)
We have an opportunity here because everyone is going through this. This is not unique to New York. This year, I’m head of the governor’s association. I talk to all the governors in the country every week speak, every state is saying, “What do we do? How do we rebuild post-COVID? How do we get out of this?” Think big, which is what we always did, New Yorkers. Oh, you’re tough people. Yes. You’re ambitious people, yes. You’re daring people, yes. You’re gutsy people, yes. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. You can’t make it here. You wouldn’t have come here unless you were gutsy and daring and you believed in yourself. That is who we are in our essence. Just think how we made this place.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:18)
Just think of the conversation, late 1800s, there’s no fresh water in New York City. Well, you have the Hudson, you have the East River, you have a lot of water, yeah, yeah, but there’s no water to drink in New York City. Oh, no problem. Up in the Catskills they have water. In the Catskills? Where are the Catskills? Up North. How do we get the water from the Catskills down to New York City? Do I get in the car, drive up the Hutch. Do I take the throughway? What do I take? No, no, no. There’s no Hutch. There is no throughway. We’re going to build a tunnel from the Catskills to New York City, 90 miles long in 1907. Think about the guts. Think about the ambition. We’re going to build a massive train system. Massive train system? You’re such a small place. Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, where are you going to put all of these massive trains? We’re going to put them under the ground. You’re going to put them under the ground? How are you going to put them under the ground?
Andrew Cuomo: (13:29)
We’re going to dig tunnels. We’re going to dig 200 miles of tunnels under the ground. 1900. With what? Big tunnel boring machine. We don’t have any. All right, we’re going to do it with shovels and picks and we’re going to build tunnels. That’s who we are. That’s what we did. Great Depression ravages the nation. What do we do? We’re going to build the tallest building in the world in the middle of The Great Depression. What are you crazy? No. We’re New York and we want to show that, yes, this is The Great Depression, but we’re going to come back ever stronger.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:07)
We need affordable housing. We need residential housing. What do we do? We built 40,000 resident housing called Co-op City visionary in the nation, 1966. That’s who we are. What do we do post COVID? We build. We build big. We don’t take no for an answer. We are building with the largest building program in modern history in this state. New LaGuardia airport, first new airport in this nation in 25 years in New York. New JFK airport. New long Island railroad tracks. We’re going to have the first state that has broadband that is accessible and affordable for every family in this state because no child is going to be left behind when they go to remote learning because they don’t have a computer and they don’t have broadband in their home. First state in the nation.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:18)
The largest green energy program in the nation is going to happen right here in New York. Hundreds of solar projects, the largest wind turbine projects in the nation, and then a new green transmission grid to bring all that power to downstate New York, which is where we use it. We’re going to build a new West Side of Manhattan with a new Empire State Station, which rebuilds the whole train station. Last week, we opened up a new expanded Javits center, 50% bigger than ever before. New Highline tourist attractions. We’re going to build a new Port Authority bus terminal, finally.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:02)
New Port Authority bus terminal, finally, which has been such a disgrace for so many years, we deserve better, and now is the time to do it. Well, what about the Bronx, you ask. Don’t be so pushy, I was going to get there. I knew I was sitting next to Rubin. And how many decades have we been talking about the problem at Hunts Point and the trucks and the pollution and the high asthma rates in the surrounding areas to Hunts Point? We’ve been talking about it for 20, 30 years, did nothing. We’re spending billions of dollars to reconfigure the entire highway system to get those trucks right into Hunts Point and get them out of the community bringing the traffic and the congestion.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:57)
We have a Bronx Unemployment Strike Task Force that has connected people with jobs, especially young people with jobs. It brought down the unemployment rate to record lows right before COVID. It is common sense, people need to work and they need help finding those jobs and that’s what we’re doing. The budget that the senator and the assemblymen just signed, the largest affordable housing program in the history of the state of New York. The largest tenant relief program in the state of New York’s history, the largest small business relief program in the history of the state of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:43)
What is the key to an area’s development? The key is access and access to mass transit. If you look at the parts of the city that have redeveloped quickly, you notice they all have one thing in common. They are all very accessible by train. Brooklyn Heights area in Brooklyn, you get on a train, one train you’re in New York, in Manhattan in 10 minutes. The part of Queens that redeveloped fastest, you get on a train, you’re in Manhattan, 15 minutes. New Jersey, you look at all that development on the Jersey waterfront. You know why, you get on the path train, you get into Manhattan in just a few minutes. Those are the areas that developed because they were accessible. Parts of the Bronx that have developed were the ones that were accessible.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:38)
How do you expand that? Now, Ruben shows me a map. Look at this. Metro North runs from New Haven down through Westchester, runs right through the Bronx, goes to Penn Station. You know what Metro North doesn’t do? Stop. Oh, it runs through the Bronx, but it doesn’t stop. Why? Why don’t we have Metro North stop as it goes through the Bronx. Interesting idea. But this is a big idea. This is a problematic idea. There’s a lot of problems with this idea. This is a complicated idea. It’s not just the Metro North. Metro North is part of MTA. The train tracks are owned by Amtrak and the federal government. This is complicated and this is expensive. This is a lot. This is over a billion dollars. This is a lot of money. And the MTA, they can be a pain in the tuchus we would say in Italian.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:50)
Not John, but it’s a complicated beast to deal with. They’re never going to agree to this. And then we’d have to get the federal government to agree and forget it, we’re all going to be dead by the time we get the federal government to agree. You can’t do this. And then you have to build stations. We don’t build stations anymore. When was the last time we built a new train station? We just, we don’t do that anymore. And then you go into Penn and Penn Station is too small already. It’s crowded. And by the way, there’s a big project, somebody’s going to sue. They’re going to sue, and then you’re going to be in court. Now, they’re going to sue you anyway so you may as well do something big, is my point of view, but think big. So today we’re announcing the state has agreed, the MTA has agreed, we have $1.58 billion put aside to build it. Today, the federal government was the last obstacle and they have off. We are going to re-issue the RFP for construction, and we’re going to do it now.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:05)
The train is on the move and look what it’s going to do. Co-op city station. Right now, the commute to Penn, 75 minutes. When you have Metro North, that goes from 75 to 25 minutes, that commute. Hunts Point goes from 45 minute commute to a 16- minute commute. Changes, changes everything. And then you go into Penn and Penn Station is going to be new. We’ve already opened the new Moynihan Train Hall, which is beautiful and is a welcome place to go. We are then also going to expand Penn Station and redo the entire station. So it’s going to be a world-class transportation facility and a place you actually want to enter. What does it mean? Better economy, less traffic, improved air quality, better community connections, 160 trains per day, five times more than Amtrak runs now moving 30,000 people. And this is not a proposal, this is not a dream. This is not a, we’re going to try, we’re going to hope. I have an idea. It’s a press release, but I don’t know that anything’s ever going to happen. This is happening, it’s happening and it’s happening now.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:37)
We did the design build list. The RFP goes out today. We do an environmental assessment. We’re going to award the project next year. It’s going to be completed in four years, 2025. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen in our lifetime and it’s going to be [inaudible 00:22:53]. Remember this day, because it is going to be transformative for these communities. They are going to be transformed, the entire Bronx, the entire region. AJ Parkinson. We can do anything we believe we can do in life, but you have to believe you can do it. I believe in you. I believe in New Yorkers. I saw what they did after COVID. I saw how they rose to the occasion when times were at their darkest and they were the most frightened. After what we did over this past year, don’t tell me there’s anything we can’t do.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:47)
If we can dream it, we can do it. And this is not going to be about rebuilding New York. We went through too much to replace what we had. This is going to be about building a New York better than ever before, a New York that we can be proud of, that is cleaner and safer and fairer than any New York before. We can do it. And we are going to do it and we’re going to make it happen together. Thank you very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:24)
Now I turn it over to my brother, my friend, your great borough President Ruben Diaz.
Ruben Diaz: (24:31)
Thank you. Hi, guys. Senor [foreign language 00:24:38]. Let’s give the governor a strong round of applause not only for we thank you for being with us here today, but believing also in the Bronx. We’ve heard a lot of things going on for so many years throughout the city and the state in previous administrations and we’ve always been overlooked, but under your administration time and time again, Gov, you have always, always put a focus on our borough. You put financing and we appreciate it. We’ve been hit pretty hard during this pandemic, really hard in the Bronx. I know that. We speak of New York City and New York state, but we had a lot of pain, a lot of loss, a lot of sickness. And through it all, you made sure that over the last 14 months that we were able to get all of the testing sites that we needed, all of the medical attention that we needed and that we deserved. And of course, now, all of the vaccination sites.
Ruben Diaz: (25:39)
The last time you were in the Bronx, we were announcing more and more vaccination sites in the communities in our borough. I also want to thank our colleagues, my colleagues in government, we have Assembly member, Michael Benedetti. We have state Senator Jamal Bailey. When you speak of the financing here, I was up in the New York state legislature as a member for seven terms, and I know that it would not happen if it were not for the elected officials and the legislators voting on the capital budgets there. Let’s give them a strong round of applause.
Ruben Diaz: (26:12)
This guy right here, he is young and he’s new in the city council, but he is what we deserve as representation, not only here in Co-op City, but all over the Bronx in New York City. Council member, Kevin Riley, thank you for being with us here. I know I’m the borough president, but I’m not the only president here. We have powerful women. The president of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, better known as SoBro. And of course, the president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Lisa Sovereign is with us here.
Ruben Diaz: (26:46)
We are in the middle of Bronx Week. We have not been able to do Bronx Week in the way that we normally do it. We couldn’t do it last year because of the pandemic. We had a lot of consternation, but we decided to do it albeit a modified way to celebrate our borough. And so I’m going to take executive privileges here, and I’m going to make this visit by the governor and this announcement by Janno and Catherine from MTA and Metro North as part of Bronx Week. Right guys, let’s give them a strong round of applause.
Ruben Diaz: (27:19)
Look, the reality is that this was not a new idea. When the governor says that it was pie in the sky, this idea was something that was being kicked around for over 30, 35 years. And when I first got to Borough Hall back in 2009, we found this proposal and we dusted off and we started to push it. And some people thought that I was crazy. And it wasn’t until we found the friend in the second floor up in Albany that said, you know what, this needs to be done. And things were moving in the right direction, but it was the pandemic that slowed us down. And yes, we had to get through COVID. I am fully vaccinated and I’m hoping that everybody gets vaccinated. It’s the only way that we’re going to get back to normalcy. But aside from dealing with COVID and the governor and his team has been doing that, we really have to start and restart again so that we can move the economy here, so that we can give people the most important thing, which I believe is something that’s not physically tangible, but it’s bigger than brick and mortar and that is hope.
Ruben Diaz: (28:28)
This announcement on restarting the procurement process on these Metro North stations is something that gives us hope. It’s something that will allow, and by the way, if it were not for the community, when we first dusted this off, if you live in Co-op City, please raise your hand. Please raise your hand. Let’s give them all a strong round of applause as well. I remember Catherine went, at the time I had to make the case to Metro North, and we had to have a meeting with the community, I had to convince them that the community wanted this as well. I was expecting just community leaders to come here, Co-op City. It blew my mind and blew Metro North’s mind when over 700 people in Co-op City fill the big ballroom here, all unanimously saying that we need to have this as part of moving forward and transforming not only Co-op City, but the entire borough of the Bronx.
Ruben Diaz: (29:24)
This will create thousands of jobs, ladies and gentlemen. It will create opportunity for more housing. It will give us a shot in the arm to economic development. But when we speak about hope and when we speak about moving forward, I’ll tell you one thing. When the governor highlights the way that we can shave off the transportation time, and we have a lot of essential workers here, they deserve to be able to get to and from work with transportation alternatives in a quicker way. Yes, that would be a quality of life for them, but even more so, could you imagine now the amount of time that they can spend with their family members, where they are not in some tunnel in the subway system. Do you know how we can continue to protect mother earth? When we speak of congestion, everybody always focuses on New York City and the congestion into Manhattan.
Ruben Diaz: (30:16)
Well, there are a lot of Bronx-ites and New Yorkers who work in Stanford, Connecticut. And if you go and you see the I-95 going north, it is also congested. This will now put you in Stanford, Connecticut in about half an hour, 35 minutes. And people from Stanford and from Connecticut can now come and visit us regularly here in the boogie down Bronx. It checks off so many different boxes. It is a good day, and boy that we need this. We are filled with anxiety. We were hit hard. And when you plan with a purpose, when you have folks who really care about every single New Yorker, not just a few, when you have big dreams, when you have big aspirations, when you work as a team, anything and everything is possible.
Ruben Diaz: (31:07)
And so as we celebrate Bronx Week, ladies and gentlemen, we celebrate the past, we celebrate our culture. We celebrate the fact that this is the cradle of [foreign language 00:31:16], the birthplace of hip hop and doo-wop. We celebrate who we are today, but we also celebrate our recommitment to get out of this pandemic and ensure that the future of the Bronx and future generations will take it to even the next level. And we could not do that without our governor. So thank you, [foreign language 00:31:38].
Andrew Cuomo: (31:44)
Thank you very much. You had the borough president’s idea and he’s right. This was an idea that was there for a lot of years. Many ideas are, but they’re just too big and too bold to take on. He was willing to take it on.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:02)
… to take on. He was willing to take it on. So now you had a plan. We have the capacity with Janno Lieber at the MTA to get it done. You had to get all the approvals, but you needed one essential element. You needed $1.5 billion, and I’ll give you 1.5 billion reasons why it’s hard to get $1.5 billion, especially in that state budget, especially in this process. So you needed a really powerful, energized, cohesive approach. And that’s what you had in Senator Bailey and Assemblyman Benedetto. It does not happen, but for them, because it does not happen, but for the $1.5 billion. And they made that a reality. Senator Bailey?
Jamaal Bailey: (32:59)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon and go Knicks. I just want to shout out the amazing residents of Co-Op City. Our borough president reached out to them and he mentioned them, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned some of them by name. Leslie Peterson, the president of the NAACP branch in Co-Op City, Leslie. Leah Richardson, a board member of Riverbay, and Leah Richardson. Mr. Robert Hedgepath, my distant cousin from North Carolina, president of Co-Op City. Ms. Linda Warner, another… borough president. Excuse me, maybe one day Linda. A building president in Co-Op city, Linda Warner. And the indomitable Michelle [inaudible 00:33:45]. [inaudible 00:33:45], our director of community relations. We all know that nothing gets done in Co-Op without you Michelle.
Jamaal Bailey: (33:53)
Governor, thank you for not just coming to the Bronx, but believing in the Bronx and for helping us dream bigger. Once upon a time, before my time, there was a place called Freedom Land. And I would imagine that if one looked at Freedom Land, they would have never been able to believe that Co-Op City could be built. So it takes ingenuity. It takes dedication, but as the governor said, it takes belief. And when you believe in yourself, like I tell my daughters, you can achieve anything, but that belief has to be true. And I truly believe that we’ve had an amazing team in this borough to push this project forward.
Jamaal Bailey: (34:33)
I’m going to miss being on [inaudible 00:34:35] with my borough president. When I was an intern in the legislature in 2004, for our great speaker, Rubin was also an amazing mentor to me. He’s been a great steward in this Bronx and a great leader. And without him also, this project would not be there. Mr. Borough president, thank you for all your work as well. My colleague in the assembly, who we share Co-Op City with, and we were out there fighting the good fight, our chair of the education committee, making sure that in our state budget, as our governor mentioned, that we finally fully funded the CFE, our education share. The Bronx is on to something in Michael Benedetto. My brother for about 25 years, we’ve gone to church together. We’ve worshiped together and now we get to lead in the same community together. Our great new city council member, Councilman Kevin Riley. And I also want to thank our Congressman in Ritchie Torres and our Westchester County Executive George Latimer, because they’ve been fighting the good fight on this for so long.
Jamaal Bailey: (35:41)
Again, I talked about Freedom Land and I talked about what it took for somebody to look at that plot of land, to think that 50,000 residents strong can be in one geographical area anywhere, much less in the Bronx. And I think about how that’s been realized. And I think about the individuals who work, live, and play in Co-Op City and how they’ve been disenfranchised. You see, I went to middle school here. And if I wanted to get here, I had to take the 31 bus or the eight bus and come all the way around and take the 28 buses or the 26 bus. But that wasn’t that bad. And especially when I lived only a five minute car ride away. Now, I want you to think about that. And I want you to think about the thousands of essential workers who during COVID, when many of us working remotely, they couldn’t work remotely.
Jamaal Bailey: (36:29)
They had to continue to go into the hospitals. They had to continue to go into these locations that were essential and they had to use mass transit. So that means they had to go take a bus to Pelham Bay, to get on a train, to take a train, to transfer to the express train, just to get further downtown. For people that do so much, that’s not fair. And quite frankly, it’s not equity. This project will bring essential transportation equity to a region that quite frankly hasn’t had it. You see sometimes in the North Bronx, we are victims of our own success. People think that because we have some grass here on the ground and we’ve got Co-Op City that we don’t need help, but we do need help and we did need help. And we got the help. So in 2025, after the shovels are in the ground, we’re going to be able to say, and my daughters, with my supervision at first, they’re going to be too young.
Jamaal Bailey: (37:26)
They’re going to be able to take that train. You’re going to be able to get to Manhattan faster because of this project. And the next generations of individuals who are growing up in Co-Op City are going to be able to have that same access. Co-Op city is incredibly unique, largest cooperative development in the country. The country, not just a city, not just the state, the country. The largest NORC, naturally occurring retirement community. And again, not just the city, not just the state, the country. So Co-Op City needed this, it deserved this. And the amazing three other parts of the world are going to get that same access. They deserved it too.
Jamaal Bailey: (38:09)
I think about one of my favorite movies, Miracle, about the hockey Olympic team, where they say great moments are born from great opportunity. Shouldn’t take a miracle to get to work if you live in Co-Op City. That opportunity is going to be given because of the hard work of general and the governor and the borough president, Assemblyman Benedetto, and the speaker and council member, and so many people.
Jamaal Bailey: (38:36)
I’m glad that we’ve got a commitment to build better. MWBEs are going to be a part of this program to make sure that our minority and women owned businesses are going to be able to have a seat at the table when we’re building back better. And again, we have to make sure that we preserve affordability in Co-Op City as well, because as transportation access increases, people are going to want to flock to Co- Op City because we know how great Co-Op is and making sure that we can keep it affordable is going to be a critically important component of what we do here in the future going forward.
Jamaal Bailey: (39:12)
So again, they say as New York goes, so goes the nation. I would venture to say, as Co-Op City goes, so goes to Bronx, and making sure that we have access here so that people can work, live, and play throughout the region. And again, I represent Westchester County as well. So being able to go North in a search of commerce. My first job was in White Plains, New York, actually, as it were. I had to go North. The next generation will be able to go North freely. You’ll be able to go faster and more efficiently, thanks to this project. Appreciative of our legislative leaders, [inaudible 00:39:48] cousin and Speaker Hasty. Appreciative of a governor. In general, thank you for all the hard work that you’ve done in those meetings that we had at the borough president’s office. We’re going to get this done. Thank you governor, once again.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:00)
Thank you. Thank you, Senator. And as the Senator said, to get something done in Albany, you have to get the Senate to pass it and you have to get the assembly to pass it and you need a champion in the assembly. And this project had a real champion in Assemblyman Benedetto. Assemblyman, good to be with you.
Assemblyman Benedetto: (40:21)
Thank you, Mr. Governor, for having us here today. Thank you for those kind words. I want to acknowledge a few people that are here today. My good friend, Knoll Ellison, who’s the general manager of Riverbay. Okay. His assistant Gary Smith, the assistant executive manager, who’s here somewhere here. Also Warren Mitchell, deputy general manager of Riverbay corporation. My good friend, Junius Williams, who helped me get some of the cameras we just got installed. Okay. And of course, my district leader, Jimmy Payne. Okay. Thank you, Jimmy, for coming here today. And you know, thanking the people, we’re hearing them. I just want to thank the guy to my left over here, I’m going to miss him. I really mean that. Ruben Diaz has been a great borough president. He was a great colleague of mine up in Albany for many years before he became the borough president. And I just don’t believe that he is now… You should have been mayor of this city, but is stepping out of politics and all the best for you, Ruben. I big hand for Ruben, please.
Assemblyman Benedetto: (41:38)
Okay. I’m lucky. I just a fortunate person. I work with good people. And my state Senator Jamaal Bailey. My city councilman, Kevin Riley. They are tops to work with. Everything we do joins together and blends. I thank you guys for being representatives in my department. Okay.
Assemblyman Benedetto: (42:03)
Yeah, I guess I should say something about Ritchie Torres, congressmen, and George Latimer, who I also served with up in Albany, two terrific people without which this project is not going to happen. And I thank them. Listen, I agree with what these people are saying. How much more can I say? Sorry, this is so important to… Yeah. Co-Op City. Think bigger. By the way, that’s what the governor is all about. He thinks big. Okay. You think big, yeah, it’s going to be good for Co-Op City. It’s going to be good for the Bronx and the whole city, it’s going to be good. You can get from here up to Connecticut and points North, you can go into the city, can do so many, many different things that you never did before. This is not a new project. When I was running for election 2004, this was something we talked about. And I advocated for. It took this governor to think big and say, we’re going to get it done. And there was one of the few times, one of the times when I was really, really happy when the governor presented in his state of the state speech some six years ago or so, committed himself to this whole project to be developed. And boy was I happy. He was coming to me, and now we see it all together. Thank you, governor. Just great.
Assemblyman Benedetto: (43:37)
You know, we’re going to recover from the last year and the last year has been tough on an all of us. We’ve all survived it in varying degrees and so on. But like the borough president said, and I wanted to really be so annoyed at him for saying that because I was going to use the same four letter word, hope. Okay, hope springs eternal. And this is so important. This is as given us new rejuvenation here that we’re going to move ahead. You know, when the people came to Co-Op City, they realized there was no connection to the outside world. There was no connection to subways. So they were promised some of the best bus service possible to them.
Assemblyman Benedetto: (44:29)
And a tribute to the MTA, not without the battle, not without a lot of people in this very room and committees who talked to them and fought the good fight against them to convince them to keep that bussing coming into Co-Op City. And now we’re doing busing plus, we’re going to have this Metro North station coming to a Co-Op City. And it is great. It is great. Infrastructure means so much for the development of the Bronx, of a country in general. Let me lastly say that this would not have happened unless people think big and boy are we blessed to have a governor who thinks big, is making this happen. And Mr. Governor, I thank you very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:24)
Thank you, Benedetto. Thank you. Well, I think everything has been said. Mike said it well, it is about… And Ruben said it well. It is about hope, but this is not just an aspirational hope. This is a concrete hope because it’s based on who we are and what we have done in the past. This is what we do. We’re in New York, we rise to the occasion. New York tough. I love that expression. That’s what they say about us behind our back. You know, I worked in the federal government for a lot of years. I worked in every state in the nation and somehow they would figure out I was from New York. I don’t know how. It must’ve been my tie that let them up. But the first thing they would say is, oh, you New Yorkers, you’re tough. You’re tough. And at first I used to say, no, no, no, we’re not that tough.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:28)
But then I went the other way. Yes, we’re tough. We are tough, but we’re tough in a good way. We’re tough in a good way. We’re strong and we’re strong enough to be tough, but we’re strong enough to be loving. And we’re strong enough to be confident. And we’re strong enough as Jamaal said to believe in ourselves and to believe in each other. That’s what New York tough means.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:58)
We went through a hard time. We’ll get through it. How do you know? Because we’re New York tough. That’s what this is about. This is what New Yorkers do when they’re faced with challenges. We rise to them and we overcome. This is great for Co-Op City. And Co-Op City is going to get a great station. Rubin in the back room was giving me his design ideas for the station. He started showing me colors. How you get red, yellow, green, blue, orange, and purple all on one wall, I’m not really sure, but he’s going to make sure that it is a beautiful station for Co-Op City. But we also have a station at Parkchester [inaudible 00:47:51], which is going to transform that area. Hunts Point is going to have a station and Morris Park are going to have a station.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:04)
So, it is going to revitalize the entire area, North, South, and other points. Thank you to all. It just shows you what you can do when you work together and you forget the differences and you find the commonality and you join arms, and that’s what you’ve seen demonstrated here today. They’ve been mentioned, but Congressman Torres, he is a fighter, he is an advocate, he has been great. County Executive George Latimer of Westchester. Why would Westchester care? Well, it’s good for Westchester, but more because it was the right thing. It was the right thing. And George Latimer is one of the rare politicians, and I say it behind his back, who does the right thing only because it’s the right thing. And that is a beautiful thing. Thank you the all. Thank you and congratulations. (silence)
Andrew Cuomo: (49:03)
Abby, do you have a question?
I don’t. I’ll leave it to the lovely reporter back there with [inaudible 00:51:07].
Speaker 2: (51:07)
Governor, I’d like ask about-
Andrew Cuomo: (51:07)
So much for your question.
Speaker 2: (51:13)
I have two questions. First, do you support state level target attacks on companies that are stocking fuel? And secondly, can you say where and when did you personally take the sexual harassment class you mandated others to take [inaudible 00:51:26] employees?
Andrew Cuomo: (51:27)
Yeah, I took it in my office in Albany.
Speaker 2: (51:29)
Andrew Cuomo: (51:32)
The executives have a PowerPoint that they go through. You don’t participate in a class. So, you’re given a PowerPoint. You take it every year.
Speaker 2: (51:44)
But I mean this year, when did you take the class?
Andrew Cuomo: (51:46)
Oh, I don’t know the date, but I took it this year.
Speaker 2: (51:50)
Andrew Cuomo: (51:50)
A carbon tax, you can’t do it that way. A carbon tax. I understand the concept. In concept it makes sense. How does it work? What’s the economic impact? You’d have to have all those questions. Go ahead.
So, you suggested the other day that you didn’t have faith in the AG’s investigation. Will you respect the findings and resign if the allegations are confirmed? And are you at all concerned about criminal charges based on the employees allegations?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:19)
Short answer is no, I did nothing wrong. I never said I didn’t have faith in the attorney general’s investigation. What I said was, people have heard one side of the story and New Yorkers are smart. They know when they’re hearing one side of the story, that they wait to hear the other side of the story. And I am very eager to tell them the other side of the story because it is a much different story. And the truth will be told, and the truth is much different than what has been suggested. And I’ll leave it at that for now.
Governor, can you talk about the East River tunnels? You didn’t mention that today, the MTAs is listed the repair of Amtrak East River tunnels as the main blockade between Penn Access being completed. That’s beyond your control. Is it still the MTA and your position that those titles need to be repaired before this get launch?
Andrew Cuomo: (53:30)
And what is the timeline? What is that look like?
Andrew Cuomo: (53:30)
Clayton, I think you know, we said is that the way Amtrak is planning at this time to repair the East River tunnels could inhibit the startup of this service. It could prevent us from getting the full advantage of the Metro-North to Penn service that the governor has announced today. So, we have Amtrak to do the renovation of the East River tunnels, work that has been waiting since Sandy to be done the way that we did the L train at the governor’s instigation, which is to do the work while maintaining service. We work nights and weekends. And we’ve expressed to Amtrak a real concern that because they’re planning year shutdowns that that could eventually, the second such year long shutdown could interfere with the achievement of the full advantage of this service. But we are also hopeful that Amtrak will reconsider their position. And as you know we got into that last week.
You just promised a room full of people that this service would be able to run it by 2025. But what are you doing beyond this to make sure that that isn’t keeping that from happening?
As I’ve said to you, we’re working with Amtrak on this project. Amtrak is actually a collaborator on this project. And I am convinced that in the end of the day, the timing and the methodology of that East River tunnel work will be done in a way that allows the full achievement. We’re planning three trains an hour in each direction and that’s what we want to make sure is done. We also want to make sure that’s done so that we can take full advantage of East Side Access in terms of opening up additional service in Penn Station, including the Metro-North to Penn.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:22)
And Clayton, you’re a smart guy. Who owns Amtrak? Federal government. Who controlled the federal government last year?
I don’t know.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:32)
Oh yes you do. You may not want to, but you do. Who controls it this year? That’s a big difference, right? Next question.
Speaker 3: (55:41)
Governor Cuomo, Ohio is offering a $1 million lottery for folks to get the vaccine. Have you thought about a whole different approach to incentives to get people to get shot?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:56)
We’ve thought about lottery tickets, which is basically a $1 million lottery, right? Depending on what the lottery is that that week. We are offering, as you know, baseball tickets, we’re offering MTA rides, Buffalo. Yesterday, we’re offering NFTA. They call it their transit authority rides. So, we’re offering a variety of incentives. Lottery tickets are one of the ideas that we had, but we’re thinking way outside the box.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:35)
Some states are offering cash. I’m not crazy about that idea because how about all the people who received the vaccine already? We have 17 million vaccines done, with 60%. Now you’re going to offer someone, some states I believe are offering $ 100 to take a vaccine. Well, I just took my vaccine. Why didn’t I get my $100? Shouldn’t you retroactively give everyone money? So, the incentives are tricky, but we’re open to very creative incentives.
Speaker 3: (57:22)
If it gets the job done, is it worth it?
Andrew Cuomo: (57:23)
Yeah, if it gets the job done, it would be worth it. I don’t know, look, as we discussed, there’s a spectrum of people we’re working through. We’re at 60%. The numbers have dropped off nationally, not just in New York. The first people came in for the vaccine we’re the people who were really eager for the vaccine, right? You had a lot of people who were anxious and afraid and believed, and they overwhelmed the system. We’ve worked our way through them. It’s now walk in anyone. We’ve walked our way through that population.
Andrew Cuomo: (58:06)
You now have a population that is not resistant, but is sort of blasé about the vaccine. It’s not a top priority for them. And what we’re doing with them is we’re trying to make it easy. And rather than asking them, come to us, you have to make a reservation and come to the Javits Center or you have to get in the car and drive the Yankee Stadium. We’re saying we’ll go to you. You stay there. I’ll get you as you go to the train. I’ll get you as you go to the ball game. You literally have to walk right by the place. And by the while giving you incentive to go and to take the vaccine. We did 1,000 people yesterday at the MTA site, 1,000 people without giving them $100 by making it accessible. And they got basically a $28 or so benefit, I guess on the card. But that’s the population we’re focused on now.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:13)
There will be a hardcore population that I believe is going to be very, very difficult because we went through this with measles and you have parents today who homeschool their child because they won’t give them the measles vaccine to go to school. The anti-vaccine theory is a small group, but it is an intense group. I have talked to them numerous times, their very vocal, their very energized. A $100 and a lottery ticket is not going to do it for that people. It’s just not. Just think of what they’re going through, homeschooling rather than sending their child to school. That’s how strongly they feel. So, we’re working our way through, if you will, the degrees of resistance and what we’re doing is working now. 1,000 people yesterday was good. We’ll see where we get, and then we’ll continue to add incentives and come up with new ideas as we’re working through the population.
Speaker 4: (01:00:25)
Well, on that same line, the nursing home staffers who have not been vaccinated, obviously kind of resistant. Have you heard any interesting plans or ideas for encouraging them or maybe, not requiring, but somehow encouraging them to get vaccinated?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:41)
[inaudible 01:00:41], nothing different than the general population. I think they’re reflective of the general population.
Speaker 2: (01:00:49)
Governor, I’d like to read to you the statement that you put out when Charlotte Bennett accused you of sexual harassment. You said, “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal. And that some of my comments given my position make others feel in ways I’ve never expected.” You didn’t deny that you said an appropriate thing to Charlotte Bennett. Do you acknowledge the fact that your intention, according to the law, don’t matter in sexual harassment? And did you say the things that you said that she accused you of saying? Because you don’t deny them. You apologized for making people feel uncomfortable.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:19)
No. I said I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable.
Speaker 2: (01:01:26)
I’m asking you do you acknowledge-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:27)
Can I finish my answer? It is after the fact, obviously. I never said anything I believe is inappropriate. You can leave this press conference today and say, “Oh, the governor harassed me.” You can say that. I would say, “I never said anything that I believed was inappropriate. I never meant to make you feel that way. You may hear it that way. You may interpret it that way. And I respect that. And I apologize to you.” If I said something you think is offensive.
Speaker 2: (01:02:09)
Well, according to the law, the harasser’s intention doesn’t matter.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:13)
Speaker 2: (01:02:14)
You apologized for if you made someone feel uncomfortable. I’m just wondering if you acknowledge that the law that doesn’t matter and would still be considered harassment.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:21)
Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable. That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable. Okay. Thank you all very much.