Dutchess County Exec On ‘Chaotic’ Vaccine Rollout: Cuomo is to Blame
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro appeared on the Ethan and Lou Show (2/17/21) to talk about New York's vaccine roll-out that he called "chaotic" a few weeks back. (You can listen to the entire interview at bottom)
We referenced the article from LoHud where Molinaro is quoted as saying New York State's vaccine roll-out is "chaotic." We also read him the quote where he said New York State is treating it's counties like "vending machines". We wanted to know if he felt he was quoted accurately, he said:
"That's an accurate quote and true. I mean, I don't know, actually, in some ways I think I was being a little bit too kind.
I don't think anyone who has tried to navigate the current system to get a vaccine, I mean certainly there are now millions of New Yorkers who thankfully have gotten vaccinated. But getting through the process is just too complicated, it's very chaotic and it's just outrageously frustrating. And, frankly, you know as I said, the counties are being used as sort of vaccine vending machines.
We have established vaccine distribution plans. In fact, New York State mandates, Counties develop those plans as part of the State Department of Health response to a pandemic. Every year we update them.
As late as last October, we were asked, counties across New York, to update those plans for what we thought would be execution of them in December or January this year and instead the state just shelved them. They went forward with a process that has, you know, really limited access but more importantly than that, and that's the challenge in itself because or certainly supply versus demand.
But, it's just outrageously frustrating and it really has caused such, such unnecessary stress and chaos."
Later, we asked him if there is an individual or a group to blame. Molinaro responded:
"Oh, it's Governor Cuomo, I mean, I don't want it to be. Listen, I know that somebody might listen and say oh sure he might think that. You know, the Governor given extraordinary powers a year ago. The State Legislature gave him that, he's written some 250, "laws", orders that act as the law or function as law.
He made the choice. He made this choice and we can't say we know why. You know, early in the pandemic, the concept of centralizing decision making makes sense.
You know you get at a fire, the Fire Chief and team assesses the location, controls and commands the situation, but as the fire rages on, you call in other companies, you call in mutual aid. Right? And then sooner of later your field Lieutenant says those guys in the building and ladies in the building are starting to make decisions.
This Governor never relinquished any of that. So we are still in a situation where they make all the choices and you can't, you just can't appreciate the on-the-ground decisions that need to get made - the inside of the burning building decisions that get made, if you're on the second floor of the State Capital.
It's just not going to happen, so this was that moment, if the very least counties have been saying this for months now.
But as you began the recovery, the rebuilding and the vaccine distribution, that was the moment to flip the switch and start empowering your local partners to really be on the ground. Not to mention, we have thousands upon thousands of public health professionals who have trained their lives for this moment. Who have seen thousands and thousands of lives taken from us and families ripped apart because of the virus.
This was their, and I hate to make it sort of personal for them, but this was their inspiring moment, to bring light, to bring hope, to bring solutions.
And it's been sidelined, it'd be like kind of playing, I don't know, a football game like the Super Bowl and keeping Tom Brady on the bench."
It was worth noting that Molinaro was appointed to Governor Andrew Cuomo's Mandate Relief Program. We asked Molinaro about that appointment and to tell us what that is. He remarked:
"It's a fine question, it turned out to be absolutely nothing. I was asked to represent the Assembly Minority on the Governor's Mandate Relief Team. I actually served on this Governor's transition team when he was first elected and like many people, had a great amount of hope.
Now remember, he spoke to the New York State Conservatives and said 'listen, I'm a Conservative guy, so it certainly has evolved over the years'.
And that Mandate Relief Team, actually and interestingly enough, is exactly what we are talking about with vaccine distribution plans. New York State forces more of it's State policies on the backs of local Governments than any state in America.
As I said, if you were in Florida or Virginia, the Health Department is a state agency that functions locally. Education is basically funded universally through state revenue. Let me go down the list, in fact, even street maintenance in most counties in Virginia are State run.
New York, they expect counties to do those things and so 70% of Dutchess County's $500 million budget is entirely dictated by Albany. We've been talking about this for years.
And that relief when he came into office was this concept to try and look at those mandates, peel them back and hopefully we could drive down cost to local property tax payers and it went nowhere, I mean it just went nowhere."
Later, we asked Molinaro about conspiracy theories as it relates to COVID-19 and the vaccine. I wondered if the State sidelining local leadership would feed or appear to support conspiracy theories. He responded:
"It does at the very least, well let me say this, at the very least it erodes confidence. But remember, you have this Governor saying he wouldn't trust the vaccine under President Trump's Administration.
Just saying those words, sent at least a percentage of the public into a tailspin. And then suggested that the State of New York had some panel that reviewed this, instantly, I mean it was like the same night the FDA approved these Pfizer and Moderna shots.
Apparently there was a panel that no one has ever seen, no one has ever talked to. I would bet you there isn't more than a handful of people in the entire State of New York who know who they are or that it happened. And so that in and of itself, because he wielded the microphone and the podium and the television set us back."
A big thank you to Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for taking time to talk to our listeners. As I mentioned to Molinaro, I-95 straddles New York and Connecticut and we are dedicated to serving all of our local communities.
Listen to the entire interview below
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