Government overreach has been a hallmark of Gov. Cuomo’s time in office, but his recent dictates surrounding forced-food purchases at bars have crossed a new line. Surely the governor has more pressing things to address—the state budget was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, virus-related nursing home deaths remain unanswered, outmigration continues to decimate New York’s population and small-business owners are reeling from a lack of customers—than debate the merits of chicken wings.
In a bizarre attempt to further control every facet of the state, Cuomo recently mandated food must be purchased with all alcohol orders in bars as a means of inhibiting patrons’ movements and limiting socializing for too long. After frustrated bar owners began offering inexpensive, lighter-fare food options, Cuomo rebuffed their workarounds and ordered “substantial” foods be purchased with each alcohol order.
This makes little sense for several reasons. First, if the aim is to keep patrons at their tables to ensure proper social distancing guidelines are followed, what does it matter what they are eating? What people don’t need is the governor dictating dietary guidelines.
Owning a small business, especially a restaurant or tavern, is challenging enough. On top of that, add the fallout of the pandemic and the state’s already-prohibitive taxes and regulations. Now, in addition to all that, the governor is adding ridiculous guidelines likely to drive even more customers away. Businesses cannot survive in this climate much longer, and the governor’s rulemaking is exacerbating an already bad situation.
We are well past the pandemic’s state of emergency, yet the governor refuses to give up his unilateral control. Even worse, his orders are becoming more restrictive and increasingly ridiculous—we’re talking about chicken wings. It is now time for an equal partnership with the Legislature.
Additionally, in April and May, members of the Assembly Minority Conference called on the chairmen of the Committees on Aging, Health and Oversight, Analysis and Investigations to convene hearings to review and investigate New York’s policies, decisions and protocols that were utilized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on state-regulated nursing home facilities. Recently, those committees announced hearings have been scheduled for Aug. 3 and Aug. 10.
The Assembly and Senate Majorities must now leverage their subpoena power to compel testimony from the governor, the state Department of Health and other officials with knowledge of the March 25 directive which required nursing homes to admit individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.
We are relieved to hear the Legislature is finally going to take a closer look at Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home directives and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe it took this long. Despite the governor and the state Department of Health’s internal investigation and report claiming they did nothing wrong and shamelessly pointing fingers elsewhere, clearly, grave mistakes were made. The state’s directives and handling of nursing home deaths during one of the worst pandemics in modern times is alarming and cause for scrutiny. Those interested in providing testimony must submit their requests to the Committee Chairmen, and are kindly asked to provide a copy to Assemblyman Kevin Byrne’s Office in the Legislative Office Building, Room 318, Albany, New York 12210 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, can reached by mail at 200 N. 2nd St., Fulton, New York 13069, by email at email@example.com or on Facebook and Twitter at @WillABarclay.