A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Steve Hawley


Taking ownership of our decisions is something that we’re taught the importance of from a young age, such as when our schoolteachers told us the story of George Washington and his famous cherry tree. While that tale was just an American folk story, it taught us all that our greatest leaders are honest and take responsibility for their actions, just as we all should as citizens. That message is more relevant than ever following our governor’s inability to take responsibility for the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers in our nursing homes. 


The unfathomable loss of life that took place this year is the greatest tragedy I’ve witnessed in my time as a legislator in Albany. As lawmakers and as human beings, we should all feel angry about the cover up that they tried to hide from us. In recent months, we’ve heard lots in the media about unity and coming together to do what’s right. While in this moment, we have been provided the opportunity to stand together against something we should all be able to recognize as wrong. 


The issue at hand is nothing nuanced or technical. The simple fact of the matter is that thousands of people died because of decisions our governor made, and we have been presented with a choice. Lawmakers can choose to seek justice and stand with the people or defend his wrongdoings and stand for his political interests. We need hearings to hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable, and despite the hesitance of some in the Majority to do so, we need to disempower the governor to prevent him making further bad decisions that could bring our state even more pain.


With our governor clearly unwilling to own up to his own mistakes, we in the Legislature need to take back our role in government to protect our most vulnerable. We all need to recognize that this tragedy was caused by the deliberate and unwise actions of our governor, and that it would be negligent of us to let him retain the emergency powers he used to hurt so many people. All eyes are on us to see if we can do the right thing, and I assure you that the countless people in this state who had the ones they loved taken from them will not soon forget who had the conviction to stand up for the people, versus those who cared more about political gamesmanship and their own well-being. 


In a time when people trust their government less than ever to do what’s right, let’s come together for once to address something we can all agree is reprehensible— the intentional coverup of thousands of preventable deaths.


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published this page in Blog 2021-02-09 11:44:16 -0500
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