Offering perhaps the clearest indication yet of his priorities as a Democratic governor of one of the most liberal states in the country, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo just suggested Tuesday that he might send in the national guard to help pick up trash around the city, infuriating critics who questioned his eagerness to send in the National Guard to act as glorified garbagemen, despite his unwillingness to deploy them during the unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd.
During the lockdown and the months that followed, trash has piled up on some NYC sidewalks. While kvetching about the growing trash pileup, the governor complained that he didn't know "what was going on" in NYC - which is run by his political rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio - and claimed that he had offered to send in the National Guard to come pick up the garbage if the city couldn't handle the job.
Complaints about negligent trash pickup have piled up alongside the mountains of garbage, largely thanks to a $106 million cut to the budget of the city's Department of Sanitation. Complaints about trash piling up in city parks have doubled since last summer, according to Patch.com.
City politicians have demanded the mayor address the problem, which primarily impacts low-income neighborhoods, officials have argued.
If the "New York City Department of Sanitation and their resources can't do it for one reason or another," the national guard will be sent in, Cuomo claimed. Cuomo made the remarks during a presentation devoted to his "New York City Stabilization and Recovery Strategy," where the governor outlined ideas on how to improve everything from schools to the city's homelessness crisis.
"This is a public health pandemic — cleanliness matters," Cuomo insisted. the trash comment wasn't the only dig at de Blasio.
Many NYers would probably agree.
NYC is a shell of its former self.I walked to the Post Office this morning,trash all over the place and in that 6 block walk I was hassled for $$ from 7 different panhandlers. NYC might be lost for quite some time.— Christopher Conway (@biscuitopequeno) September 29, 2020
However, some on Twitter took issue with the governor's remarks, claiming the National Guard shouldn't be co-opted for something like picking up the trash left behind by the Department of Sanitation.
I would respectfully decline if I was in charge of the Natl Guard. This is NOT an appropriate use of the guard. https://t.co/QA6nKXiLzj— Bring back the crusades (@rocketwolf) September 29, 2020
Cuomo sends NG to Collect NYC Garbage-— . (@Thinking4UrSelf) September 29, 2020
Don't Forget to Collect Cuomo & de Blasio. https://t.co/tQjfsm2nUn
1) NY must pay for their labor 2) Gov has them do garbage not stop unrest tells you his priorities 3) THIS is what Cuomo thinks of Military. https://t.co/IKyxNjLENH— John A. Jensen (@FixTheNation) September 29, 2020
Cuomo's presentation comes as NYC's new COVID-19 hotspots have pushed its positive test rate to its highest level in months.