Editor’s note: The following is a portion of remarks delivered Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the campus of SUNY Oswego. It have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
We divided the shoreline, 500 miles, into different regions, and Cayuga and Oswego are one region. And you did a heck of job. There were a lot of meetings, a lot of time, a lot of planning, a lot of discussion, a lot of cups of coffee I understand. But at the end of the day, it worked, and we’re pleased to announce today that Cayuga and Oswego are going to get $43 million to fund 31 projects.
Number one, for me, government is in the doing. It’s not in the proposing of a project. It’s not in the proposing of a plan. It is in the accomplishment of the task. Okay, so we’re announce 31 projects. Great. That’s great. The announcement is great. You know what’s better? Doing it is better. Doing it is better. And I think part of the public cynicism about government at large is, “Yeah, government always announces these plans and we’re thinking and we’re planning and we’re proposing, but government is not as good in actually getting it done and getting it on time and getting done on budget and getting it done in my lifetime, okay?”
This is an emergency situation. I want change and I want help and I want it now. People are scared, people are frightened, people are angry. They’ve had their house surrounded by sandbags, they haven’t been able to use facilities. Tourism has been hurt. Do it, but do it now. And that is my mantra all across the board, unfortunately for the people who work with me. I call it “constructive impatience.” Doesn’t that sound nice? See impatience by itself sounds annoying. “Oh he’s impatient,” no, I’m constructively impatient. I am impatient with the bureaucracy. I am impatient with the process of government. I’m impatient with all the excuses in the process. “Well, I filed an application, I’m waiting for the response, I need this, I need that.” Get it done, get it done, get it done. You get paid to get it done. So constructive impatience sounds better than just impatience.
You’re going to get awarded the projects today. Do what you need to do to get the projects going ASAP. If you need a planner, get a planner. If you need local approvals, get the local approvals done. If you need approval from a private owner, get it done. If you need the homeowners to sign a piece of paper, get it done. Nov. 20, you are all invited to come to Albany on a one day work session where whatever has not been finished will come to Albany, I’ll bring my constructive impatience theory to the table, and we will get done whatever we need to get done because I literally want to get these projects moving right away because it is an emergency situation.
Last point is this, these floods have been horrendous and difficult and they came at a difficult time and there’s nothing theoretical about what people have gone through. Their lives have been made miserable and they’ve gone through financial loss and they’ve gone through hardship. The positive is this - I believe every storm you can find a silver lining. And the silver lining here is with this $300 million we are going to be doing work that we could’ve or should’ve done anyway. I’ve been to Oswego many times, for example. I worked with Oswego when I was HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration and I worked with many of you then. There was a lot of work to do. The Port of Oswego needed work anyway. Wright’s Landing needed work and investment anyway. So, a lot of what we’re doing are projects that we needed to do anyway to better the community. We didn’t have the access to the funding, we didn’t have the political mobilization, we didn’t have the political support. Ironically, the flood actually did that for us, it generated an attention - it generated a sense of urgency.
If it wasn’t for the floods, I can’t get $300 million for this region even though we had many, many projects that needed investment. And that is the silver lining. We’re not going to build back - we’re going to build back better than ever before. Oswego and Cayuga will be the better for this. And that’s what this is all about. So, it’s not about yesterday, it’s not about repairing damage; it’s about building a new future and investing in one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America. Thank you and God bless you.