Gov. Kathy Hochul is giving Italian-American civic activists agita for firing the popular state director for Italian-American Affairs, the Post has learned.
Hochul terminated Dolores Alfieri, who was appointed by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, as the governor’s liaison to the Italian-American community in 2017.
Italian-American civic leaders said they were blindsided by the move and blasted Hochul for failing to consult with them or ask for recommendations for a 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,” fumed Joseph Scelsa, president of the Italian- American Museum in Manhattan.
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 and wondered if she was 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 told the governor.
“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,” they said.
There was a previous flap over the new governor’s belated proclamation for Columbus Day — an official holiday — after issuing a proclamation on October 11 for Indigenous People’s Day.
Italian Americans comprise the state’s largest ethnic group. Citizens who identify as either full Italian descent or partial ancestry comprise 12 percent of the state’s population, census data reveal.
Alfieri, who previously worked for the National Italian-American Foundation and had an Italian-American podcast, declined to comment.
An administrative appointee, Alfieri served at the pleasure of the governor.
Andrew Cuomo, an Italian-American, had deep ties to its community leaders going back decades, from the days his father, Mario Cuomo, was governor.
Cuomo, the disgraced ex-governor who resigned under the threat of impeachment after a state investigative report commissioned by state Attorney General Letitia James’ office substantiated that he sexually harassed or mistreated 11 women including current and former staffers, had fought for Italian-American causes, including erecting a statue for Mother Frances Cabrini.
Hochul’s office confirmed Alfieri’s dismissal and said the position is currently vacant.
The governor’s office noted 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.
Hochul vowed she would replace many Cuomo appointees, including those linked to her predecessor‘s sexual harassment scandal.
Hochul spent Sunday stumping in predominantly black churches in the city, including the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church and New Jerusalem Worship Center in Jamaica, Queens and St. Paul’s Baptist Community Church in Brooklyn. These churches are in areas that helped elect Eric Adams as the next mayor in June’s Democratic primary.
Hochul is vying for black votes — a key Democratic Party constituency — as she faces a primary fight from two black candidates, state Attorney General Letitia James and city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
But Hochul, the former lieutenant governor considered a moderate from Buffalo, can ill afford to take Italian-Americans for granted, especially with moderate Long Island Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi also expected to announce a bid for governor, sources in the community said.
Republican candidates vying for the nomination for governor next year include Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino as well as Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.