WE made mistakes.
Though two independent investigations proved that no illegal activity occurred on my watch, it is crystal clear that what members of my administration did was wrong — no ifs, ands or buts.
I have apologized to Joe Bruno, the Senate majority leader, and now I want to apologize to all New Yorkers.
What you’ve been reading about in the papers and watching on television this week is not what we are about. In fact, it represents just the opposite.
On my first day in office, I brought my staff together and told them what our guiding principles must be: “First, we’re going to fight for what we believe in. And second, we’re going to maintain the highest ethical standards while doing it.”
Over the past few weeks, two members of my administration forgot that second principle — creating an appearance that the State Police were being used inappropriately.
As soon as this became clear, we acted immediately and decisively, suspending one of my longtime advisers indefinitely and transferring the other out of the governor’s office. These steps were not taken lightly. Both of these people have served New York with distinction for decades.
But the message was simple: even though they didn’t break the law, they forgot what we were about, and that won’t be tolerated.
The worst thing that could happen now would be for this to stop our progress, preventing us from building on our many successes of the past six months: health insurance for every child; historic investment in our schools tied to accountability; the largest property tax cut in history; ethics, lobbying and campaign finance reform; breaking the impasse at ground zero; and a 20 percent cut in workers’ compensation rates that will save New York businesses $1 billion and make our state more competitive.
Albany had long been mired in gridlock, but we are changing that. Working together with the Senate and Assembly, we have managed to make remarkable progress — and we are on the brink of so much more.
There are two ways this can go.
We can get bogged down in partisan politics that serve only to distract us from the business at hand — the kind of head-hunting that we’re beginning to see for people in my administration who were cleared by these investigations.
Or we can move forward and pick up where we left off, addressing the long list of issues and challenges that matter to all New Yorkers — which are just as important today as they were last week.
So let us keep our eye on the ball and focus our energy and our resources on the needs of New Yorkers — fighting for a revitalized economy, more jobs, lower health care costs, better schools and lower taxes.
We will renew those two guiding principles I spoke about on my first day in office.
We will continue to fight vigorously to change the status quo on behalf of all New Yorkers. I’m never going to apologize for that. But we must recognize that this effort will succeed only if our means for changing the status quo are as honorable as our ends.