March 28, 2023

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Adams and Hochul’s ‘new’ New York

Adams and Hochul’s ‘new’ New York

We’re past the point where it feels weird to see the mayor and the governor share the same stage, but still, it’s notable to see New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul in lockstep on a topic as big as, in their own words, “the future of New York City.”

Adams and Hochul rolled out their plan for how to bring back the city’s beleaguered business districts, which have taken a beating from the pandemic, as more workers do their jobs remotely and office towers remain half empty.

It’s a 40-point strategy devised by one of those blue ribbon panels leaders like so much, dubbed the “New New York” panel. It aims to turn Midtown Manhattan and other business districts into 24/7 neighborhoods where people actually want to be, rather than depending on workers forced to schlep to their desks. Implicit in all of this is a recognition by Adams and Hochul that a return to 2019 office culture isn’t happening, despite all their cheerleading.

The specifics are a littleless grandiose, but if enacted, will go a long way towards changing the physical face of Manhattan. They include a pedestrian promenade around Grand Central Terminal, removing car lanes on Broadway, changing zoning rules in business districts to allow more housing development, and creating a cheaper ticket for trips within the city on commuter lines. Hochul also set a target to build 800,000 new homes across the state over the next decade, encompassing Adams’ push to add 500,000 units within the five boroughs.

Doubling down on the business-friendly boosterism, Adams has a few choice words for critics on the left, and for the city’s news media. He derided progressives who have attacked the rich and called for jacking up their taxes, saying: “It blows my mind when I hear, ‘So what if they leave?’ No, you leave!” As for the press, he complained about coverage that plays up problems the city is facing. “We have to tell our news publications, enough. Enough,” he said, claiming he does not see such press treatment when he visits other countries. Let’s be clear: His most recent international travel was to Qatar, not exactly a bastion of press freedom.

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WHERE’S KATHY? Holding a Cabinet meeting and a winter storm briefing.

WHERE’S ERIC? Holding a roundtable meeting with Latino clergy members, making a cannabis announcement, and hosting a holiday reception for the City Hall press corps.

NYPD to change ‘manifestly unfair’ disciplinary guidelines for cops,” by New York Post’s Craig McCarthy: “Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell says she plans to make changes to the NYPD’s disciplinary guidelines — reducing penalties after finding dozens of cases were ‘manifestly unfair’ to cops, The Post has learned. The city’s top cop, in an internal memo distributed Wednesday, said she overturned punitive recommendations from internal police judges and the Civilian Complaint Review Board in the cases, and would soon ‘amend’ the department’s disciplinary matrix.”

— Two NYPD officers who drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters went on administrative trial.

City’s Street Vendors Saw Twice as Many Tickets This Year Compared to Pre-Pandemic, With NYPD Leading Enforcement,” by City Limits’ David Brand: “This year, the NYPD has been the leading enforcement agency against street vendors, breaking from an earlier pledge to take them out of the process as part of reforms announced by former Mayor Bill de Blasio. Police issued more tickets to vendors in 2022 so far than the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), a City Limits’ data analysis found, despite the fact that DCWP was put in charge of vendor enforcement last year after passage of the City Council’s street vendor reform law.”

Less than one-third of NYC subway homeless sweeps resulted in long-term shelter stays,” by New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt: “Nearly 2,300 homeless people were moved into shelters from the subways as part of Mayor Adams’ outreach initiatives through August — but more than two-thirds of them left the city’s care within a week of being admitted, according to data obtained the Daily News. While Adams called his administration’s subway sweeps ‘a win’ at an Aug. 30 press conference, homeless advocates say the efforts aren’t working if the vast majority of targeted individuals exit the shelter system after a short stay, in many cases likely to return to sleeping underground.”

The Day No Guinea Pigs Would Fly: Council Hears Pleas to Stop Sale of Guinea Pigs from Pet Stores,” by The City’s Katie Honan: “Dozens of animal lovers on Wednesday warned the City Council of the dangers of an out-of-control guinea pig population, urging the body to pass a stalled bill. The legislation, from February, would prohibit pet shops in New York City from selling the popular fluffy rodents. Animal advocates have for years said instituting this ban would help stem the rapid breeding that has overwhelmed shelters. Risa Weinstock, the president and CEO of Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), testified during Council’s health committee hearing that the number of guinea pigs brought into their shelters has nearly tripled since the start of the pandemic.”

GO AHEAD FOR MENTAL ILLNESS PLAN, FOR NOW A legal effort to stop the mayor’s new mental health policy was struck down by a judge Wednesday. A group of organizations and individuals who were already suing the city over its mental health policies sought an immediate stop to Mayor Eric Adams’ latest directive, which broadens the criteria first-responders can use to involuntarily transport homeless New Yorkers experiencing mental illness to hospitals. On Wednesday, a judge ruled that the policy can continue while the lawsuit plays out.

“We are pleased that the Court agreed there was no basis to freeze this important initiative while the case continues,” Law Department spokesperson Nicholas Paolucci said in a statement. “When all the evidence is heard, we are confident that the Court will agree that the City’s compassionate efforts to assist people suffering from homelessness and severe mental illness, comply with federal and state law.” — Joe Anuta

— “Patients familiar with NYC mental health system skeptical of new Adams policy,” by Gothamist’s Bahar Ostadan

New York hospitals on brink with staffing shortages, financial woes: report,” by New York Post’s Carl Campanile: “New York hospitals are reeling as they still struggle to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic — with half the facilities reporting they slashed or eliminated services because of staffing shortages while two-thirds said they’re operating in the red, a shocking new industry report reveals. ‘One-hundred percent of hospitals report nursing shortages they cannot fill; over 75% said that other key worker positions cannot be filled — directly impacting the accessibility of healthcare services,’ said the study released Wednesday by the NYS Health Care Association.”

Wegmans didn’t come. So here’s how Buffalo’s East Side is building its own food economy,” by USA Today Network’s Matthew Korfhage and Adria R. Walker: “From age 19, Wright had devoted himself to nonprofit after nonprofit, trying to help raise up his community. But in starkly segregated Buffalo, decades of disinvestment and white flight had left behind a hollowed East Side landscape of vacant lots and boarded-up buildings. Supermarkets with fresh produce had all but abandoned his side of the city, home to nearly 85% of Buffalo’s Black population. Some chains, like Rochester-based Wegmans, never arrived in the first place.”

NYC’s young men, people of color struggling to find work, Comptroller DiNapoli says,” by New York Daily News’ Denis Slattery

#UpstateAmerica: The authorship dispute over a Christmas poem first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823 is getting Hallmark movie treatment.

Inside the Jury Room for the Trump Org Criminal Trial,” by the Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery: “To avoid letting their personal feelings toward Donald Trump cloud their judgment, jurors for the criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization had a novel strategy: They referred to the former president as ‘Joe Smith.’ ‘I constantly fought my knee-jerk belief that of course anything with the name Trump on it is crooked,’ one juror told The Daily Beast this week. ‘I shocked myself in mid-November when I realized that I wasn’t sure I could find the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation guilty. We talked in the jury room about having to put on blinders and look just at these two companies.’’’

Eric Adams seeks $1B from Biden as NYC migrant crush swells to 30K,” by New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan, Nolan Hicks and Bruce Golding: “Mayor Eric Adams has asked the federal government for $1 billion to handle the crush of migrants who’ve surged into the Big Apple this year — but the cost was calculated when the population was far less than it is now and before a judge decided to open the floodgates at the southern border, The Post has learned. The Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed Wednesday that its Emergency Food and Shelter Program’s National Board received the city’s funding request and was ‘reviewing their application.’”

The Department of Buildings still has not conducted an inspection of Mayor Eric Adams’ brownstone to investigate a complaint of an illegally converted apartment.

— Two state lawmakersreleased a plan to make MTA buses free.

— A judge granted Uber’s bid to temporarily block a pay raise for for-hire drivers.

— Seneca Lake Guardiansays it’s being bullied by the state’s largest landfill, Seneca Meadows.

— Virtual classesare allowing small schools to offer a greater variety of courses.

— Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg announced $9 million for mental illness outreach services.

— The Transit Workers Unionelected a new president, Richard Davis.

— The Manhattan DA returned antiquities to Iraq that were looted during the 2003 invasion.

— “Analysis: Can 2023 be a ‘reset’ for Hochul?”

— NYCHA officialssaid they are on track to replace hundreds of boilers that have contributed to heat outages.

— The Landmarks Preservation Commission declined to designate an endangered Brooklyn 19th century Dutch home as a landmark.

— The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albanywants a stay on sexual abuse lawsuits amid mediation, but attorneys representing plaintiffs say negotiations are going nowhere.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Donna BrazileMeridith Webster Bill Knapp … Fox News’ Griff Jenkins … Cheddar’s Kristen ScholerRaquel Zaki Katie Hunt Alison Omens

MAKING MOVES — Clifford Chanin will be the new director of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. He was formerly associate director of arts and humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation.

NY rent assistance program could close Jan. 15,” by Gothamist’s Chau Lam: “New York’s pandemic-spurred rental relief program could close to future applicants starting as early as next month, under an agreement reached Wednesday between the state and lawyers who sued to keep the program open. The agreement lifts a temporary injunction that kept the Emergency Rental Assistance Program open through 2022 even though funding had dwindled, allowing renters to stave off eviction proceedings while awaiting decisions on their cases.”

Wagner Park Safe From Bulldozers for Now as Suit Filed to Stop Waterfront Revamp,” by The City’s Samantha Maldonado: “The Battery Park City Authority on Tuesday agreed to hold off on construction activities at Wagner Park after a group of neighbors opposed to the project, known as the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association, notified the authority of a lawsuit coming the following day. The BPCA, a state agency, wants to protect the neighborhood from storm surges with a $221 million plan that entails elevating the park, building a new pavilion and installing a series of flood walls and gates, from the Museum of Jewish Heritage to Bowling Green Plaza.”

Locals Don’t Love the City’s Long-Awaited Re-Widening of Crumbling BQE,” by Streetsblog’s Julianne Cuba: “The city on Tuesday unveiled long-awaited plans for the beleaguered triple-cantilever section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, proposing three fairly similar options for a redesign of the crumbling infrastructure that will restore three lanes of traffic in each direction, albeit with a park on top.”