Governor Andrew Cuomo along with former Vice President Al Gore were on hand for a climate change event last week in which Governor Cuomo “astroturfed” the meeting to make it appear that there was vigorous grassroots support for it.
The New York Post reported that:
The workers said they left their jobs in the middle of the day Thursday and were paid their full salaries to hear Cuomo at Columbia University announce the state was joining a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’d rather be at the park,” said one of the workers, who is employed by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and who has no connection to climate issues.
He explained that he went because his boss “asked me to make some time available in my schedule.”
The worker confessed that he didn’t know what the event was about before he agreed to go.
He said attendance is not required, but is viewed favorably, and that the practice is common throughout state government to support Cuomo.
The workers reportedly are more willing to attend events like this when they are paid, but some question the integrity of the State paying its employees to use paid time for the State of New York to bolster an elected official’s credentials.
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo didn’t understand why anyone would question state employees attending the event and getting paid for it. He told the Post:
A handful of staff from relevant state agencies had the opportunity to attend this important announcement, which impacted their work. They were a small number of the more than 500 people who attended the event,” said spokesman Frank Sobrino.
He said about 20 workers went from four agencies, including Environmental Conservation and the state Energy Research and Development office and decisions on whom to send were made “at the agency level.”
He also said that climate issues are “directly relevant” to health employees and are “an enormously important issue” to parks workers after Hurricane Sandy.