Cuomo says his asymmetrical fight with a state engineer is a D.O.T. problem

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During a speech on Staten Island this morning about his budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about needing to govern with sympathy, and having the heart balance the mind when making decisions.

After the speech, I asked Cuomo how that squared with the recent events involving D.O.T. engineer Michael Fayette, who was pushed out of his job after talking to a reporter without authorization and then subjected to a high-profile tongue-lashing from the state director of operations, Howard Glaser.

Cuomo characterized the whole thing as a D.O.T. personnel matter and said he won't second-guess the agency.

I followed up by asking specifically about Glaser, a member of Cuomo's cabinet who is not an employee of the D.O.T., who took to the radio, after the governor was criticized for the manner of Fayette's effective termination, to read from a list of additional alleged workplace offenses committed by Fayette, from Fayette's personnel file. 

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Again, Cuomo said it was a D.O.T. matter and he wouldn't second-guess it.

Cuomo's aides were concerned that initial accounts of Fayette's resignation implied that he was pushed out merely for speaking to the press without permission; Glaser accused reporters of trying to fit the episode into a "tired" narrative in which the governor is hypercontrolling when it comes to press.

Glaser's colleagues subsequently defended his comments to me, on background, as a necessary response to the ommission of relevant details about Fayette's employment history from an initial AP story.

In his speech, Cuomo announced a buyout plan for storm-damaged waterfront properties. Under the plan, which will begin on Staten Island, homeowners in storm-prone areas can opt to have the state buy their homes for fair market value before the storm, plus an additional five percent if they purchase a home in the same borough.