OMBUDSMAN ALERT: Legislative candidates speak out on TZ Bridge, Sign-Gate

BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT

Ombudsman

Both spans of the new bridge connecting Tarrytown and Nyack – popularly known as the new Tappan Zee Bridge – have opened, but the Cuomo Administration still can’t escape heat for the unpopular decision to change the bridge’s official name to “Mario Cuomo” [his dad].

The Ombudsman Alert has argued in previous columns that because Cuomo’s GOP challenger Marcus Molinaro says if elected he will move to return Tappan Zee to the bridge’s name, no signage should be altered until after the November elections. Earlier this month the signs were changed in what turned out to be a sloppy effort to open the new bridge’s eastbound span.

In addition to public anger over the bridge’s name change and premature signage, Governor Cuomo is nearing a deadline from the federal government demanding removeal of all “motorist-distracting” signs from New York’s highways – specifically those reading “I Love NY.” The state was fined $14 million in February for failure to follow demands from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has until Sunday, September 30 to recoup the monies by complying.

Four hundred offending signs are in question, but negotiation continues between state and federal officials. The feds want the state to change the font on the “I Love NY” signs and the Cuomo Administration continues to resists. By Monday, we will know the outcome.

This week the Ombudsman Alert asked candidates for state office representing Rockland, as well as the governor and his opponent Marcus Molinaro, for statements concerning “SIGN-GATE” and the ongoing upset amongst the public regarding the name change of the bridge over the Tappan Zee area of the Hudson River.

All who chose to accept the invitation to comment are quoted here.

SCOTT VANDERHOEF (R): CANDIDATE FOR STATE SENATE:

“The historic importance of the name Tappan Zee can not be underestimated. It is part of our place in the world. The removal of the name Tappan Zee bridge is wrong. If elected, I will immediately submit legislation to return the newly built bridge’s name to Tappan Zee Bridge. Failing that, a compromise bill including the TZ name must be passed. Until such time, it is a costly mistake to change all signs to M. Cuomo Bridge. They’ll likely all have to come down so as to include the name Tappan Zee.”

DAVID CARLUCCI (D): CANDIDATE FOR STATE SENATE:

“Under New York State law, the Tappan Zee’s name has been changed to the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which is why the governor can change the signs. The bill I voted for calls for the bridge to be named The ‘Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee bridge.’ The legislation passed in the Senate and not in the Assembly, and therefore is not law. Until this bill is passed, the signs and the bridge’s official name cannot be changed.”

ROSARIO PRESTI (R): CANDIDATE FOR STATE ASSEMBLY

“I would concur with Scott’s assessment of lack of fiscal prudence to expend the funds to change the signage now when there is a movement to return the name to Tappan Zee or a combination of Tappan Zee & M. Cuomo bridge. If elected to the Assembly, I would support Scott’s proposed legislation to change the name back to Tappan Zee or a combimation, but the bridge should not be known solely as the M. Cuomo Bridge.”

MARCUS MOLINARO (R): CANDIDATE FOR NY GOVERNOR

“Andrew Cuomo will do or say anything to advance his political career, including adding his family name to the Tappan Zee Bridge without any public discussion; a bridge paid for by the taxpayers of New York. But taxpayer money has always been a means to a personal political end for this governor, look at the billions he’s handed out in corporate tax breaks and cash grants to donors who have given his campaign millions, Andrew Cuomo has stained the honor of this state with an historic level of corruption. It must end this November at our polling places.”

KRISTEN STAVISKY: CHAIR OF THE ROCKLAND COUNTY DEMOCRATS

[Does not directly address the TZ or signage controversy]

“Rockland Democrats strongly supported Governor Cuomo in the primary because Governor Cuomo has delivered for New Yorkers. Thanks to his leadership, the lowest income tax rates in generations, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition for middle class families, paid family leave, and marriage equality have all become reality.”  

Please address all comments and questions to: editor@rocklandcountytimes.com