New York City's Third Law is that for every Mayor Bill de Blasio action, there must be an equal and side-eye-ish Governor Andrew Cuomo reaction. Case in point: The governor has waded into the debate over a statue for nun and saint Mother Cabrini. Update: Cuomo just announce a "State Commission" that "will work with the Columbus Citizens Foundation, the Diocese of Brooklyn and others to site and fund the new statue."
Earlier this year, She Built NYC, the NYC initiative led by First Lady Chirlane McCray to address the lack of female historical statues, accepted nominations for future statues. While Mother Cabrini received the most nominations (219 nominations; runners-up Jane Jacobs and Shirley Chisholm got 93 and 91), the city's next statues will feature Chisholm, Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, and Katherine Walker. (Another group will be bringing a statue of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth to Central Park.)
Some Italian-Americans accused the city of snubbing Mother Cabrini and Bronx native, actor and playwright Chazz Palminteri, called McCray "racist" for not selecting Mother Cabrini. Palminteri took his beef to the Brian Lehrer Show, calling in to yell at de Blasio during Friday's show. De Blasio, for his part, pointed out, "it wasn’t a vote," de Blasio responded. "It was a request for nominations. There were hundreds of women nominated to my understanding," and said that the city would be considering another round of statues soon, adding, "Mother Cabrini is right at the top of the list for consideration."
At Lehrer's prompting, Palminteri apologized for calling McCray racist.
During his remarks at the Columbus Citizens Foundation Gala on Saturday night, Cuomo said, "Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has said that this is an affront and the Brooklyn Diocese wants to build a memorial to Mother Cabrini. They are right. We should applaud their courage and their activism. But my friends, we should even do more. We should support them. Let's join with them tonight. Let's stand up and demand respect for our community. Let's lead the way by taking action and let's build a memorial to Mother Cabrini—and I pledge my full support tonight."
Ahead of the Columbus Day parade, Cuomo reiterated his support on Monday morning. "I want to let the Catholic community know —I'm a Catholic, former altar boy—that they are respected and Mother Cabrini was a great New Yorker, literally a saint, did tremendous work for the immigrant community which is totally appropriate now when we have this discussion on immigration," he said on Good Day New York. "So we are going to work with the Diocese of Brooklyn with the Columbus Citizens Foundation and other interested groups and we will build the statue to Mother Cabrini, she deserves it."
The governor did acknowledge that some Italian-Americans are sensitive about ensuring their heritage is represented, after the 2017 debate about whether the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle should be removed.
Palminteri is grateful for Cuomo's efforts:
There is already a shrine to Mother Cabrini in upper Manhattan.
Update: Cuomo announced the formation a commission to get the statue built. A press release said, "The Governor will appoint a Commission comprised of Italian-American leaders - including Angelo Vivolo from the Columbus Citizens Foundation, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn, among others - to identify an artist and a location for the new statue."