Governor Andrew Cuomo's younger brother doesn't think their late father would be happy to have a bridge named after him, after all—a fact he apparently did not think to mention until after we had the signs made and pushed the remnants of the last bridge into the Atlantic Ocean.
On Friday morning, mere minutes before the governor rode the ceremonial tank across the second span of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo took to Instagram to share his "mixed emotion" on the unveiling.
"In case you don’t know, the old bridge it replaces was named after Gov Wilson. It had two names actually. The second was the common reference, 'Tappan Zee'. Tappan after an Indian tribe from the area, and “zee”, the Dutch word for sea (even though it spans a river)," he wrote. "Anyway, Pop would not have liked this. He was a big believer in updating infrastructure. But he was very humble and thought having something named after him sent the wrong message abt public service."
Gee, thanks for letting us know, Chris!!!
View this post on Instagram
Mixed emotion day for your boy. #tappanzeebridge was taken down and a new bridge was built and named for my Pop. In case you don’t know, the old bridge it replaces was named after Gov Wilson. It had two names actually. The second was the common reference, “Tappan Zee”. Tappan after an Indian tribe from the area, and “zee”, the Dutch word for sea (even though it spans a river). Anyway, Pop would not have liked this. He would’ve loved the new bridge...he was a big believer in updating infrastructure. But he was very humble and thought having something named after him sent the wrong message abt public service: it is not supposed to be about the we not the me. I agree but people tell me I am wrong because it is good to remind of the people who made a difference and represent the right things. I see that point as well. And others who don’t like my brother as governor or didn’t like Pop or who like trump and think Pop was his opposite (and they are right from a personal perspective to be sure) oppose the naming and I get that too. When you grow up with a parent in politics you learn to mitigate the effect of criticism about them (or you wind up going to jail for crushing a nose :) So I am unusually objective about my father and brother. But most of all this morning for me is a mixed bag of pride and pain. Pride about Pop making a difference for people who needed help and the pain of knowing - if his name is up there, it reminds that he is not down here with me. And I still needed him, more than I was aware. Anyway - on a funny note, if you look at the picture you will see even traffic signs have political labels now (left)! This toxic tribalism is rampant :-) see you tonight. 9 PM Eastern. #Let’sGetAfterIt
The younger Cuomo is far from the only one upset about the bridge formerly known as the Tappan Zee. According to a poll released last year by Reclaim New York, less than 15 percent of Rockland and Westchester residents support changing the name of the bridge that connects their counties.
Part of that frustration likely comes from the lack of public input into the decision, and the controversial manner in which the naming was rammed through. According to Governor Cuomo, the idea for the new moniker came to him just one day before the legislative session ended last year, thus giving him no choice but to use a special State provision typically reserved for serious emergencies in order to get his bill passed.
“I think that’s something that could obviously wait,” Ron Deutsch, Executive Director with the watchdog group Fiscal Policy Institute, told WSKG-TV at the time. "I don’t see any sense of urgency in renaming a bridge."
Governor Cuomo, too, acknowledged on Thursday that his father, "Would love the bridge, but he would reject the vanity of the name."
And yet, here we are, calling our brand new bridge by a new name that no one particularly likes—including, apparently, the guy it was named after. But hey, have you seen the new Penn Station entrance?