BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor of New York, was in Buffalo Monday to receive a leadership award from the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
2 On Your Side took the opportunity to ask her about the way New York State gets proposals for public projects, in the wake of the Buffalo Billion bid-rigging allegations and arrests.
Below is a complete transcript of her responses about public projects proposals and other hot political topics, local and national. It was compiled by 2 On Your Side photojournalist Franco Ardito.
How does Republican candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric affect children, young men and young women?
HOCHUL – I personally as a parent find it very disturbing. When I was growing up and my kids were younger we never had to worry about these kind of negative influences from people who are the leaders of our country, or are trying to become the leaders of our country, so this is a whole different era, and my sincere hope is that after this election is over that we can put the genie back in the bottle. I don’t want this to become the norm. I do not want this to become the status quo of politics in our country, where people can say whatever they want to without regard to respecting other people, whether it’s people with disabilities, whether it’s immigrants, whether it’s people of color, whether it’s women. I don’t want my kids, or my grandkids to ever be exposed to this from people running for President of the United States. So it is a real problem.
What’s the problem with the exposure to the type of rhetoric?
HOCHUL – Because it is inappropriate. I mean, this is not who we are as Americans, we have never been like this. We may have our political disagreements and I saw this when I first came out as a member of Congress, you don’t always agree. That’s okay. Our founding fathers did not always agree, but they did not show this type of disrespect for people just because they’re different, that we are now being exposed to because of Donald Trump. And particularly as a woman. I don’t want young men to think it is normal behavior to talk about women in such sexual ways. That’s not appropriate. That’s not appropriate in any sense. And I’ve had young men, men from fraternities, come up to me to reassure me that in the locker rooms they’re in, they don’t talk like that. So, how interesting that college men have to tell other people, ‘No, we’re really not as bad as Donald Trump is.’ Interesting, interesting perspective. So I took some hope in this, because I’m also going around the state talking about sexual assault on college campuses. I’m telling young men that behavior is not acceptable and they agree. I’m also telling women, that if you have been subjected to sexual harassment or abuse of rape, that you should be coming forward. Here we have a different culture that Donald Trump is saying if you come forward, I’m going to sue you, I’m going to destroy your name, I’m going to engage in character assassination. Again, making my job more difficult to bring these people out of the shadows and getting the help they need if they have been sexually abused or assaulted. So, it’s a whole new ball game. I can’t wait until this is over. I want to get back to normal politics where we disagree on the merits, but treat each other with respect. That’s what Americans do.
Switching gears, after the Buffalo Billion, let’s call it a scandal. What is the governor’s office doing to change the bidding process and the RFP (Request for Proposal) process? Perhaps even make it a little more transparent?
HOCHUL- Well those of us from Western New York who are familiar with the work of Howard Zemsky take great comfort in the fact that he has now been assigned to manage the entire operation. He is president and CEO of Empire State Development. He is assuming the responsibilities that have been undertaken by SUNY Poly in the past with respect to economic development. This is a very positive development, because Howard is engaged in a top to bottom review of the practices involved in the procurement, the RFP process. And he is going to be coming up with recommendations in the very near future, on how to do it very differently, so this situation will never occur again. That’s exactly what the governor has asked for. He wants to make sure that no one never has the power and influence that one person had before, and we make sure that the tax payers are treated fairly in the process and the right projects are funded and the wrong ones are not.
Another question, regarding the youth of America, specifically here in Buffalo. People in struggling neighborhoods, be it on the east side, west side, south Buffalo, North Buffalo, if they’re struggling economically speaking, and they hear all of this talk of the Buffalo Billion, money going into Riverbend and a lot of other initiatives, but they’re not seeing anything in their lives, what do you have to say to them?
HOCHUL – Just open up your eyes a little bit wider, because those opportunities that were never there before are waiting for you. We are having job training in places like the east side of Buffalo, advanced manufacturing skills being taught, allowing young people to be able to have a piece of the American dream, just by staying here in Buffalo and getting a little more education . Stay in high school, get your degree, focus on vocational opportunities. Anyone who focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math or just the skills, the skilled trades, they’re going to have great employment here in Western New York. Jobs that were never here before are coming back, so those opportunities are waiting for them.
Some of these individuals may have issues just getting to the school, based on poor family environment, dangers in the streets, and if we’re just telling them to open up their eyes and focus on education. And they’re going ‘I don’t know where my next meal is, I don’t know if I’m going to get to school and be safe.
HOCHUL – It’s tough, but school is their safe zone. They need to get to school. If you’re a 15, 16 year-old thinking about dropping out, stay there. If you’re not getting enough food at home, we have programs, we have nutrition assistance programs that give you breakfast and lunch when you’re at school. We have after school programs. So don’t walk away from that. I know some kids are in horrific neighborhoods, I understand that, their safety and their future rests in finishing that high school degree and perhaps getting into some vocational training while they’re in school, but there are labor unions looking for apprentice students. They are looking to train them in the skills, anyone who goes and learns how to use their hands as a welder, electrician, plumber, there are jobs waiting for them. Job going unfilled. Or if they go into the sciences, or the trades, really, they just need to stay in school. That is my first bit of advice, and if they need help there are a lot of people who want to see them succeed, starting with our governor and on down. I believe that if they can just get that degree, that high school degree find their way to a job opportunity that is waiting for them, they’re going to be okay. We’re going to be able to offer them a lot more than people 10 years ago would have coming out of the same environments. Finally the jobs are here.