Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi who is reportedly running for New York governor has chided Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday of mishandling the firing of the state director of Italian-American Affairs.
Suozzi, a Democrat who also represents a part of Queens, sent a letter to Hochul expressing his displeasure for her move to fire Dolores Alfieri without proper consultation from the Italian-American community.
“As a former Mayor and County Executive, I recognize your authority to make personnel decisions and to place people of your choosing in important positions. My experience has taught me however, that it is often helpful to consult with the constituency most affected by your decisions. In this case, the Italian -American community believes this is now the second time in the last month they have felt blind-sided by your actions,” Suozzi said.
Before the letter of Suozzi, some Italian-American groups also criticized Hochul for firing the director for Italian-American Affairs without proper consultation from their group.
The Italian-American Civic leaders also said that they were blindsided when Hochul terminated Alfieri, who was appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, as the governor’s liaison to the Italian-American community in 2017.
The group also lamented that after firing Alfieri, Hochul did not even ask them for recommendations for her replacement.
“It’s an absolute insult to the Italian-American community. I’m insulted. I don’t want to be associated with Hochul right now,” Joseph Scelsa, president of the Italian- American Museum in Manhattan said.
To show their dismay to her decision, the state leaders of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America also sent a Nov. 7 letter of complaint to Hochul, saying they were not consulted about Alfieri’s ouster.
The group also asked if the move is her way of eliminating the liaison office to Italian-Americans.
“When you became governor of our state, we believed you would do good for all the residents of our state. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as you have continued to exclude Italian Americans from your agenda,” Michele Cangiano Ment and John Fratta of the Sons of Italy in America said in their letter.
“If you care about this rift that your positions have created, we are suggesting a meeting with you as soon as possible to mend this misunderstanding,” the group added.
Meanwhile, Hochul’s office confirmed Alfieri’s dismissal and said the position is currently vacant.
The governor’s office also said she fully supports the Italian-American community since the top staffer in her administration, Secretary Karen Persichilli Keogh, is Italian-American, and her constituency office will continue to represent amici and other citizens.
“Governor Hochul was proud to march in the Columbus Day Parade, and she will continue to be a strong supporter of the Italian American community throughout her administration,” said the governor’s spokeswoman, Hazel Crampton-Hays.
It was learned that when she assumed office, Hochul made a vow to replace many Cuomo appointees, including those linked to her predecessor‘s sexual harassment scandal.