This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who’s up and who’s down this week?
April 1, 2021

The Empire State has officially become the Hempire State, as New York joined a growing number of states in legalizing recreational marijuana this week. Not everyone is stoked about this development – more on that below – but like it or not, legal pot is here to stay. City & State has everything you need to know about how the program will work in New York, but for anyone looking to brush up on their marijuana lingo, we’d have to refer you to freshman Assembly Member and walking thesaurus Zohran Mamdani.

Winners: 
Kassandra Frederique

It was a long, hard road, but after years of advocacy, New York legalized recreational pot. There was no one person who single handedly made it legal to light up in the Empire State, but the tireless work of Kassandra Frederique certainly stands out. Executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, her organization has been a leader in the efforts to make New York more stoner friendly, and to do it with social equity and racial justice at its heart. And the final deal that got approved in New York centered many of the priorities that Frederique has fought for.

Pat Foye

Roughly two years after the state passed a first-in-the-nation road tolling program for Manhattan’s Central Business District, it’s finally looking like congestion pricing will become a reality in New York City. Under the Trump administration, congestion pricing was stuck in Midtown-level gridlock, but the U.S. Department of Transportation gave the Metropolitan Transportation Authority long awaited guidance this week that will allow the state to move forward with the program. But MTA Chair Pat Foye thought snagging federal approval was hard, just wait for the debate over exemptions for the tolling program that is sure to ensue. 

Legal Aid Society and New York Civil Liberties Union

After weeks of fighting for the rights of inmates to get vaccinated, these two groups were among five organizations that threw their hands up, sued on behalf of prisoners — and won. A judgeruled on Tuesday that the state must offer the jab to prisoners after “irrationally” distinguishing between them and “people living in every other type of adult congregate facility.” It might not be a surprise to hear one of the people sued was Gov Cuomo: he’s been losing for a while, so was this really a shock?

Losers: 
Andrew Cuomo

The three-term governor officially has a losing record when it comes to getting a state budget done by the April 1 deadline. Add that to the blows he absorbed this week. His seeking $4 million for his COVID-19 book deal became public. Legislators smoked him on weed. Another woman came forward alleging sexual misconduct. And his attempted budgetary giveaways to real estate buddies and the hospital industry show he knows how to leverage gubernatorial power while fighting for his political survival. Great.

Nick Langworthy

The state GOP party chair has vowed to make Republicans competitive in the 2022 gubernatorial race, but he might wanna concentrate more on his own electoral backyard. Right next door in Buffalo, Republicans have failed to scrounge up a mayoral candidate to run with the one contender declining the local party's nomination. It's not like Republicans had much of a shot in Buffalo, and Langworthy has bigger fish to fry, but it sure doesn't radiate much confidence for the future.

Kyle Belokopitsky

Think of the kids! Not everyone is celebrating the new legal status of the devil’s lettuce in New York. Among the most vocal opponents, especially in recent days, has been Kyle Belokopitsky, executive director of the state PTA. She has warned that legalizing recreational pot poses a danger to children even though it remains illegal for anyone under 21 by making it easier to access and leading to more underage usage. But lawmakers did not heed her pleas and approved legal weed in New York, so it seems that parents may soon need to have a serious talk with their kids about the risks of underage smoking.

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City & State
20210415