A quick scan of Joe Biden's appearance at the state Capitol

Biden and Cuomo

Vice President Joe Biden dropped into Albany today for an appearance at the state Capitol, to talk about rebuilding infrastructure after the storms that have hit the state in recent years, to literally and figuratively give Andrew Cuomo a pat on the back -- and see a Cuomo powerpoint presentation. "I wish everyone could see this presentation," Biden said (really, he actually said that).

Infrastructure is an important issue, but it's one of those topics that tends to make people start to glaze over a bit -- you know, until it breaks. So it's worth paying attention to it, maybe even better if someone else watched it for you. As we did.

Here's a quick-scan recap of Biden's appearance at the Capitol Tuesday...


Andrew Cuomo on his administration's plans for continued infrastructure rebuilding and "re-imagining" after Hurricane Sandy

"Originally we were contemplating talking about this rebuilding plan in the State of the State. But as you'll see, it's so complex, so intricate, and so large that it really deserves a presentation and time of its own. So we decided to talk about the reconstruction plan today. Tomorrow we'll have the rest of the State of the State. And the Vice President is joining us because, as you'll see as we go through it, this wouldn't happen without the federal government and without their support for the supplemental appropriation, without the federal government cutting the bureaucracy the way they did and doing the coordination that made today possible."

Andrew Cuomo explaining how lower Manhattan has been expanded into the water over its history.

"This was a special challenge for us because it called for us to literally re-imagine the state in light of what we went through with Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm Sandy, and storms Irene and Lee. And taking those lessons, and really that trauma, and reshaping our vision of New York through that experience."

"I've been governor for three years, in that time there have nine federally-declared disasters, which has been an unprecedented experience for the state. ... So extreme weather is the new reality, like it or not. What caused it is a separate discussion for a separate day. But the reality is extreme weather and we have to deal with it."

Cuomo said his admin is planning 1,000 projects representing $16 billion. Highlights:

+ Increase in the number of weather stations around the state, from 27 to 125, for earlier and better weather information. Plugged into NWS, state agencies, and UAlbany.
+ Redesign subway system in NYC to retrofit it to protect the system from flooding.
+ Redesign upstate bridges to prevent "scouring" of the bases. Example: the Livingston Ave Bridge in Albany, originally designed in 1866. "It was not designed for this weather." Repair/replace 100 bridges across upstate.
+ New flooding protection system for NYC airports
+ Elevating power system infrastructure, especially on Long Island, out of flood danger. Also: a new "micro grid" system. "A community can have a separate, independent power system and if the main system goes down, the micro grid system can takeover."
+ Redesigning waste water systems to prevents spills during flooding.
+ Redesigning/re-thinking coastal development. "We have to think in fundamentally different terms about our relationship to the coast. The ocean is still moving in and it's reclaiming the shoreline." Much of this part focused on downstate, but Cuomo also mentioned upstate projects such as Troy's mile-long seawall along the Hudson.
+ Revisiting home construction to consider measures such as building on piers.
+ A second round of community reconstruction projects, asking local municipalities for projects that would help them.
+ Create a SUNY College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the first such college in the country.
+ Set up a statewide fuel supply reserve in case fuel deliveries are disrupted. Designated gas stations on evacuation routes upstate would be required to have backup generators.
+ Train 100,000 New Yorkers to be part of "citizen first responder corps."

"What we went through was horrendous. But at least we want to learn from it to make sure that if and when something happens like it again, we'll be prepared for it."


Joe Biden, in response to Cuomo's presenation

"This presentation was the worth the trip."

In praising Paul Tonko, who was also there today, for helping make the case for New York State in Congress: "Sometimes our fellow colleagues in other parts of the country don't have the same empathy and sympathy for disasters that occur on the East Coast, as we, on the East Coast, consistently have for disasters in the Midwest and far West."

Talking about seeing the effects of Sandy in New York City: "In the aftermath of [Sandy], I also witnessed something else: I witnessed the incredible dedication of your governor and delegation to do something about it. Not just to build ... we talked about rebuilding, but rebuilding better, rebuilding to a new and different standard."

"It used to be ... you'd say we'll rebuild to the status quo ante, we'll put you back int he same place you were in before the storm. That's not the standard of the 21st century. That cannot be the standard. We have to rebuild in a way that you will not be victimized by a similar storm again. Because if we don't, we're just wasting money."

"One of the things that impressed me the most, governor, is your foresight here and your ingenuity, not only in deciding that you have to do the obvious, taking your energy grid and essentially raise it off the ground, but set up these micro grids. That's the kind of thinking we need from other governors. That's the kind of thinking we need around the country."

"We are in a situation where we have to act like America again. [Cue short anecdote about talking with John Kerry about infrastructure.] He made the same point that a lot of you probably have made: If I blindfolded you and took you into an airport in China or Hong Kong and you looked around, and I asked you where you were, assuming it was totally empty, a lot of you would say, 'This must be America.' Or if I took you into Singapore or a hundred places around the world. No, it's not. The most modern airports in the world are in other parts of the world. The most modern ports in the world are in other parts of the worlds. Why do some of our friends not understand why we became such a great nation?"

Joe Biden telling a story about the Erie Canal. Andrew Cuomo trying to hide his frustration that someone else is telling a story about New York history.

"There's a New York tradition, that started with one of your predecessors, DeWitt Clinton. He built the Erie Canal. It wasn't a damaged infrastructure, it was a need for a whole new infrastructure for a new world. It literally opened the West."

"The competition in the 21st century is different. But you got a governor who understands why the Empire State became known as the Empire State and apparently is determined to keep it the Empire State. I'm serious, I'm serious. I wish everyone could see this presentation."

"The governor knows that we not only have re-imagine New York for a new reality, we have to re-imagine America for an American reality. And the reality is we have to get back on our game."

"I think your rebuilding New York, re-imaging a future, is exactly what we have to do in this country. And once again, in the tradition of this state, and the tradition of Andrew Cuomo, you're leading. You're not just leading in New York, you're leading the country. And I think a lot of governors and a lot of folks are going to learn an awful lot from what they see and what you do here. And I know it's just begun, but I have no doubt you'll get it finished. And as they say in our business, at least in the House and Senate, I associate myself with the gentleman from New York."

By the way: Not counting introductions, Andrew Cuomo spoke for 25 minutes (including 22:52 for his presentation) and Biden for 23:03. This will obviously have implications if they both run for President. Obviously.

screengrabs from newyorkstateofficeofthegovernor livestream


I hope it was not only worth the trip but the hours of extremely loud helicopter rotor noise heard all along Wolf Road and I imagine all around ALB. I don't know what they were doing (not too far) up there but they sure were doing a lot of it.

They also screwed up traffic at I-90 and Everett Rd. twice.
All for what and who paid for this useless trip?

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine