Monday, January 03, 2011

"Do You Hear the People Sing?"

Governor Andrew Cuomo, taking a page out of the Les Miz libretto, laid out what will be the determining factor of his success-an ability to mobilize the folks in order to counteract the influence of the special interests. As the WSJ reports: "Where are the people in Albany? Where are the people in the capital? That is the profound absence in this system. The people aren't engaged," he said. "If there's a silver bullet in the battle to recapture Albany, it is the re-engagement of our citizens. This capital has become a physical metaphor for the isolation and alienation of our people."

But how to engage the people so that they can truly sing? Fred Dicker outlines the plan: "Cuomo, to that end, plans to launch an aggressive statewide barnstorming tour next week to begin to mobilize the public on behalf of his planned reforms in a way that's not been seen before. Separately, he's helping raise a $10 million-plus war chest to back up the mobilization with a sophisticated media campaign. "There is no more time to waste. It is a time for deeds not words, and results not rhetoric," Cuomo declared yesterday."

As far as the small business community is concerned, the Cuomo campaign to restore fiscal sanity to New York could not come at a better time-with entreprenuerism at its lowest ebb because of the state's high tax and regulatory environment. If the new governor is serious about reducing the size and scope of state government, he won't find more enthusiastic allies than those struggling NYS small business owners.Cuomo's dramatizing of the state's problems strikes a sympathetic small business chord: "Cuomo's inaugural address identified the problems perfectly: runaway taxes, public corruption, massive job losses, lost faith in a government led by officials who put the "whisper of the lobbyists before the cries of the people" and a government quite literally locked behind barriers and sealed doors."

This broad agenda-reducing the multiple layers of government and lowering the tax burden-has the 100% support of all shop keepers, restaurant owners, and neighborhood professionals. But more is needed-and the new governor needs to focus on some specific ways that the state can become more business friendly. Some of these policies will be applicable to all business, while others should be targeted to specifically help those smaller business entities that have been hardest hit by the Great Recession.

In this regard, Cuomo needs to set up an active Small Business Advisory Board that is empowered to craft a set of policy initiatives that will energize small business growth. As a corollary, he needs to appoint a high profile Small Business liaison who is designated to insure that certain agreed upon pro-small business policies are implemented. It really needs  to be a two-way street-and, if it is, the thousands of NY small business owners will be the best, most engaged, allies that Andrew Cuomo has in his fight to restore the economy of the state."

Still, the road back is a long and winding one-as the NY Daily News recognizes: "That Cuomo has a mandate for overthrowing the status quo is beyond dispute. He spelled out his intentions in eight campaign books and rode them to a 63% landslide. And voters who preferred Republican Carl Paladino were looking for even more radical movement in the same direction. Still, he'll be going up against deep-pocketed interests that profit nicely from Albany's destructive ways. His best chance of prevailing against those forces is to move quickly - and strike while his mandate is hot. Go get 'em, governor."

And quick he must be, because the forces that are not enamored by his agenda are already mobilizing: "A coalition of public and private sector labor unions and their community advocacy allies has launched a new radio ad that takes Wall Street to task for “collecting a record $144 billion in pay and bonuses” and issuing a rather nebulous call for building an economy that “benefits everyone.” The 60-second spot, dubbed “Party On,” 60-second spot delivers a New Year’s message set to “Auld Lang Syne” and noisemakers. It will start airing tomorrow on major NYC metro-area and Albany stations, including WBLS, WCBS, WINS, WRKS, WLTW, WKLI-FM and WGDJ-AM, and remain on the airwaves through Jan. 11."

But the governor has gotten off to a good start-and his rhetoric is refreshing, given all of the turmoil and trouble that has been associated with Albany for way too long. Now comes the hard, roll up the sleeves part. It is, however, a fight that is badly needed, and it is for the veritable survival of New York. We'll give Abraham Lincoln the last word-and his words resonate to New York's current political crisis:

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."