Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo began his second term Thursday with a speech framing inequality in the economy, schools and the justice system as problems that New York State can lead the nation in addressing.
Cuomo, delivering his inaugural address from the 64th floor of the World Trade Center, focused largely on sweeping statements rather than specific platform points, which are expected at his annual State of the State Address next week.
In his New Year's Day remarks, Cuomo said a unified New York can overcome discord, whether it is in a negative perception of policing, public education or opportunities for advancement. Cuomo cited the rebuilding of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as an example of the state's resolve.
"You give us adversity, we turn it into opportunity," he said. "That's what these challenges are asking us to do: to take that great diversity that is New York and find the commonality, and to come together for the good of New York."
In attendance for Cuomo's 30-minute address were a range of elected leaders, from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife.
New York City PBA President Patrick Lynch, who blasted de Blasio following last month's killings of two officers in Brooklyn, was also present.
Speaking of a climate that has generally pitted pro-police voices against protesters calling for a change in law enforcement culture, Cuomo said: "The situation has devolved into one where everyone is talking and no one is listening."
He acknowledged, "the justice system needs review," but also, "police officers need more safety and more protection."
In a statement, Lynch said "it is reassuring to hear the calm, practical and reasoning voice of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his call for respect and support of law enforcement." Although acknowledging that the tension between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect is a national problem, "it is also our responsibility to solve it here in the state of New York," Cuomo said.
When Cuomo addressed education reform, he didn't note his ongoing clashes with teachers' unions over evaluations and charter school growth, but he said: "Today we have two education systems, if you want to tell the truth: one for the rich and one for the poor."
But, he said, it was incumbent on the state to make fixes. Cuomo quoted his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was not in attendance due to health issues, when he said: "The family of New York: a collection of the most daring, bold accepting people from all countries on the globe.
"We will lead the nation by our example once again," Cuomo said.