No one is especially happy in Albany these days, or over Zoom meetings held across far-flung corners of the state.
The revelations of the last several weeks -- an undercount of deaths among nursing home and long-term care facility residents, the acknowledgment by a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that information was held back and now a looming federal probe among them -- has led to talk among Republicans about impeachment.
It took six months for Governor Cuomo's office to respond to questions raised by state lawmakers about the deaths of nursing home and long-term care facility residents. Some legislators are asking what could have happened if that data was publicly available sooner?
"I'm very frustrated by it, because we've been looking for this information all along," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. "But then you think about all the time that's passed. If we had this information, what sort of changes could have been made in the meantime?"
More than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died during the pandemic, a number finally released by the Cuomo administration, but only after a top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, acknowledged the data was kept secret over concerns the Department of Justice under President Trump would use the information against them.
Compounding the animosity has been the subplot of Assemblyman Ron Kim's phone call with Cuomo. Kim alleges Cuomo threatened the future of his career in the call, leading some lawmakers to recall, not so fondly, their own run-ins with the governor and his staff.
"Plain and simple we asked for this information," Santabarbara said. "There were hearings. That information was held back -- a shocking admission from a high level staffer that it was done purposefully."
The Cuomo administration on Wednesday released a full transcript of the two-hour Zoom meeting DeRosa and lawmakers discussing the lack of data and concerns over nursing homes during the pandemic.
Cuomo earlier in the week said his administration should have moved more quickly in disclosing the information.
Former Governor George Pataki says Cuomo should do more to apologize.
"I know it's not an easy thing to do, but the public is forgiving when they're told the truth," Pataki said in an interview. "But they're not forgiving when people just continue to pretend they never made a mistake."
"The Legislature is appropriately outraged and I would hope they can sit down and work something out, but that certainly hasn't been the case thus far," he added.
Democratic State Committee Jay Jacobs, an ally of the governor, downplayed the rift between Cuomo and Democrats in the Legislature, who holds supermajorities in both chambers.
The leaked meeting itself, now at the center of the firestorm, was a way of turning the page in the contentious relationship between Cuomo and lawmakers.
"I think there's nothing unique about the legislative and executive branches having disagreements and even members of both parties have disagreements. I think we have to lower the temprature," Jacobs said. "I think we have to recalibrate somewhat. Frankly, the private conversation that was leaked was all about building back that relationship and ensuring transparency and creating a better working environment."
Meanwhile, what legislative changes result from this are unclear. Democrats in the state Senate are expected next week to scale back the governor's pandemic power granted last year. AARP New York's Bill Ferris called for a further roll back of immunity protections for nursing homes.
"We need to put the politics aside and we need to fix the problem," Ferris said. We've had over 15,000 deaths of people catching COVID in a nursing home and either dying there or dying in a hospital. In AARP's opinion, enough is enough."