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Borrello unhappy over Cuomo nominations

The state Senate has approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest slate of judicial and administrative nominations — but many Senate Republicans are unhappy with the process.

On Tuesday, Senators approved a laundry list of appointments, including several judges and more than 50 appointments to agency boards and commissions. State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, was among the Republicans to speak out against the nominations, many of which came with only days remaining in the legislative session and with what legislators termed too little information to make an informed judgment about the appointee.

“I agree that this is a process that is extremely flawed,” Borrello said on the Senate floor. “We were handed these resumes, which were mostly whitewashed and redacted, and asked to vote on them in a very short period of time. So I am also going to be recorded as a no on all of them even though I feel there are some very qualified people that have been nominated.”

Cuomo nominated Honorable Madeline Singas to the New York State Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy of Judge Leslie Stein who is retiring in June, and Honorable Anthony Cannataro to the New York State Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy of Judge Paul Feinman who passed away in March 2021. The governor also nominated eight judges to the state Court of Claims. Senators also voted on the following appointed commissioners:

¯ Cynthia M. Monaco, Commissioner, Tax Appeals Tribunal

¯ Yolanda Canty, Member, State Commission of Correction

¯ Steven M. Cohen, Commissioner, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

¯ Lani Jones, Commissioner, Civil Service Commission

¯ Adam Zurofsky, Director, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation

¯ Lino Garcia, Commissioner, State Athletic Commission

¯ Havidan Rodriguez, Director, State of New York Mortgage Agency

¯ Licha M. Nyiendo, Commissioner, Commission of Human Rights

¯ Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent, State Police

“It is the process that is flawed,” Borrello said. “It’s not transparent. We need more time to do our own investigation to vet these candidates because it’s certainly not being done by this governor who is so steeped in controversy. He’s actually nominating people that could potentially be jurors if we ever do have an impeachment trial in this chamber. So while I have confidence in the nominees I lack confidence in the process and certainly lack confidence in this governor to put forth honest nominations.”

To that end, Borrello has proposed legislation (S.7242) that would reform the existing system to establish a minimum of a 60-day review period and an independent background investigation of nominees. The measure would also establish funding for the majority and minority parties in both the Senate and Assembly to contract with third party entities to perform these investigations.

The legislation faces an uphill battle to be passed.

“Individuals appointed to serve on state boards, in agencies and judicial posts often make significant decisions that have can have an enormous impact on the lives of New Yorkers. Yet, despite the high stakes involved, nominations are typically pushed through during the end-of-session rush and are accompanied by only minimal supporting documents, such as a resume and questionnaire,” Borrello said. “We are seeing that troubling scenario play out during this final week of the session.”

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