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Feb. 26-March 4, 2021
Assemblyman details public feud with Gov.
Cuomo over nursing home COVID deaths
BY CLARISSA SOSIN
By Saturday morning, Feb. 20,
Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim had
suffered a meltdown.
He’d gone from local lawmaker
to national figurehead overnight by
standing up to the excesses of a governor
who’d been given unlimited power
because of the coronavirus pandemic.
His name was splashed across headlines
locally and around the country,
his family was nervous about the feud,
and the issue it was over was far from
So, he cried.
“I had about three meltdowns, including
this morning,” Kim said in an
interview on Saturday. “I do feel better
every time I kind of let it out. And then
you move on.”
Kim stepped into the spotlight last
week after telling the national press
that Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly
called him and threatened his
career. Cuomo demanded Kim didn’t
back him in an ongoing controversy
over his administration’s handling
of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Kim
The controversy has pitted Kim
against one of New York’s most powerful
and politically connected families
— a match up that frightens his own
Kim immigrated with his parents as
a child from South Korea. His mother
takes the subway every day to her job
as a cook in a supermarket. His father
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (l.) has been feuding with Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim (r.).
is battling cancer, fighting for health.
“We’re a bunch of immigrants, you
know, from Flushing that are just trying
to survive, and trying to figure out
how to have some social mobility,” he
His family knows who Cuomo is
from the news, he said. They see him
in the newspaper, know that he has
power, wealth and connections. They
understand that he comes from a political
dynasty, and has a brother with
a bully pulpit on CNN. Every day they
are fielding phone calls from worried
friends. They are scared of what could
happen, he said.
“There’s a lot of fear taking on a
very powerful politician who made —
QNS fi le photos
who made tangible threats,” he said.
Earlier in the week, it was reported
that Cuomo’s administration purposefully
withheld and misconstrued data
on the number of COVID-19 deaths in
nursing homes throughout New York
Kim, whose uncle died of presumed
COVID-19 in a nursing home, was already
a vocal critic of Cuomo’s handling
of the virus in nursing homes
early in the pandemic. He’d been outraged
at the deaths, and the immunity
for the industry that Cuomo had covertly
slipped into the budget. So when
Cuomo allegedly called him to demand
he make a statement supporting him,
Kim refused. That refusal prompted
the threatening phone call.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to
requests for comment for this story.
Kim has since led a call for Cuomo’s
emergency powers to be revoked. This
is a complete turnaround from a year
ago when he was one of the first sponsors
of the bill granting the governor
emergency powers in the first place.
“I even got up and made the argument
against the, against my close
progressive friends who voted against
it, that we need to give him a chance,”
But he pretty quickly regretted
that effort when, two weeks after the
budget vote, he found out that Cuomo
had snuck in immunity for the nursing
“I think the state of politics prioritizes
corporations over people’s lives,
and there’s no way, no other way to
describe it. This pandemic is a clear
example of that,” he said.
He understands that people make
mistakes, Kim said. But Cuomo’s inability
to admit his mistakes is what
got the state into this position. Instead
of owning up to them and collaborating
to find a fix when everything went
wrong, he covered up his mistakes.
“They’re just, at best, offering
Band-Aids,” Kim said about Cuomo.
“And not admitting to those horrible
things that they did like providing,
you know, apply good immunity for
nursing and executives at the peak of
Read more on QNS.com.
Vol. 30 No. 9 32 total pages
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