So long, Shola, the Cohen raid and de Blasio’s mystery meeting

The GE Building at Rockefeller Center.
The GE Building at Rockefeller Center.
David Reilly / Shutterstock
The GE Building at Rockefeller Center.

So long, Shola, the Cohen raid and de Blasio’s mystery meeting

Your weekly news roundup.
April 13, 2018

In a rare shared appearance, both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a rally for 32BJ SEIU contract negotiations. Although, it wasn’t “shared” so much as they both happened to be there but tried their darndest to avoid each other. Cuomo spoke first, telling the crowd that they had two allies there that day: himself … and each other. De Blasio took the stage shortly after, apparently never crossing paths with the governor. Despite their rivalry, the mayor and governor still struck similar tones of support for the workers. That and more, in this week’s headlines.

So long, Shola

Shola Olatoye, the embattled chairwoman of the New York City Housing Authority, announced her resignation on Tuesday, months after a report revealed that she had lied to the federal government about NYCHA performing lead paint inspections. And then she lied again under oath to the New York City Council. However, Olatoye said the scandal was not the reason for her resignation. Rather, she said she felt that since a multiyear federal investigation into the housing authority was nearing a close, it would be a good time to “pass on the baton.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continued to defend Olatoye, once again blaming former staffers who had already resigned for the lead paint problems. Replacing her will as the interim chairman of NYCHA is Stanley Brezenoff, a longtime public servant who most recently was the interim president of the city’s public hospitals, which are facing their own financial problems.

The raid of Cohen’s office

The FBI raided the Manhattan office of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney accused of paying porn star Stormy Daniels to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. The raid was conducted by the office of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and reportedly sought information about the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump made vulgar remarks about women as well as materials related to payoffs to women to keep silent about alleged affairs with the president. Unsurprisingly, Trump wasn’t pleased.

Lobbying the mayor

De Blasio failed to disclose a September 2015 sit-down meeting with James Capalino, one of the top lobbyists in New York City, and nine of his clients, after Capalino helped to raise $100,000 for the mayor. A state Joint Commission on Public Ethics investigation is ongoing, but Capalino has already settled with JCOPE, agreeing to pay a $40,000 fine. For his part, de Blasio said he doesn’t even remember the secret meeting – and that no lobbying must have taken place.

Cynthia Nixon loves weed

Cynthia Nixon released a video on Twitter laying out her rationale for wanting to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. Although she has already very publicly taken a stand on the issue, she focused in on the need to legalize to stop the disproportionate arrest rate of minorities on marijuana charges. She said New York needs to stop putting people in color in jail for something that “white people do with impunity.” That puts her at odds with Cuomo, her primary rival, as well as de Blasio, a political ally.

Trump Tower fire

Over the weekend, a fire broke out in a 50th floor apartment at Trump Tower in Manhattan, leading to the death of Todd Brassner, the owner of the apartment. The FDNY noted that the building had no sprinkler system. In the 1990s, Trump had lobbied against legislation to mandate them in high-rises. Though the legislation ultimately passed, Trump Tower was grandfathered in, and was not required to renovate and apparently never did voluntarily. The fire brought the issue back into the spotlight, with City Councilman Robert Cornegy calling for all buildings to be required to have a sprinkler system.

Rebecca C. Lewis
is an editorial assistant at City & State.
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