There’s a new Diaz in town! Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is out of the mayoral race, but Cypress Hills’ own Darma Diaz is very much in the race to replace retiring New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal in North Brooklyn, and even got the backing of the local machine – before anybody else even jumped into the race. As long as Boss Bichotte’s going to hold on to power the old school way, it pays to be an insider.
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
This week's biggest Winners & Losers
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. isn’t running for mayor anymore, and everyone else is seeing opportunity. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a housing plan. New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson released a homelessness plan. Former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is expected to run now. And Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who may be the biggest winner from Diaz’s exit? Well … he said he’d ditch his security detail and carry a gun.
A state judge made many district attorneys across the state happy this week by blocking the creation of a commission on prosecutorial misconduct as unconstitutional. Apparently it’s against the state Constitution to empower such a body to punish prosecutors who cut corners to get convictions – at least in the way prescribed by a new law that lawmakers approved last year. Celebratory drinks ought to be on Hoovler, president of the District Attorneys Association of New York, who has been a leading opponent of the commission.
The Western New York state senator’s bid to replace the disgraced former Rep. Chris Collins got a big boost this week when local GOP leaders gave him their endorsement in the upcoming special election. It’s not all smooth sailing for Jacobs moving forward – fellow Republicans are still looking to run in the primary for the 2020 general election – but the political winds are definitely blowing in his direction – even though the Conservative Party is refusing to get on board with Jacobs.
It’s not a done deal yet, but Zara Nasir and her fellow organizers notched a milestone victory in their quest to unionize New York City Council member staff. Just a couple months after they began their card campaign, they have gained support from over half of the member staff. With that threshold met, they’ve formally requested that Council Speaker Corey Johnson recognize their union. Nasir and the others behind the effort still have a long road ahead, but the horizon looks bright. Certainly a cause for celebration, which is exactly what Nasir will be doing with other supporters at an upcoming union fundraiser.
And the top NYC lawmaker is … Helen Rosenthal! No wait, it’s Keith Powers! It’s Oscar season, and we just had our own La La Land-Moonlight snafu, with Powers unfairly missing out on the top prize. Unlike the Academy, however, we’re officially letting the two contenders share the award. If only we could blame it all on our accounting firm.
Even though barely anyone had any idea who Thomas Bransky was, New York City doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to his nonprofit to run its homeless shelters. A City & State investigation into Childrens Community Services two years ago turned up a vague website full of stock photos of children and a sparse headquarters located in a call center in Queens. As it turns out, an organization operating in the shadows with lots of city cash might be a recipe for disaster. Bransky and his nonprofit now face a lawsuit alleging fraud after the city flagged its suspicious billing. The Department of Homeless Services is now left trying to take over Childrens Community Services's shelter operations. Hopefully they do some better vetting of its replacement this time around.
The Manhattan DA’s office just can’t catch a break. Diana Florence, a nearly 25-year veteran of the office, left her post last Friday after allegations that she withheld damaging evidence about her star witness in several major bribery cases. Florence, who had been head of DA Cy Vance Jr.’s Construction Fraud Task Force, said the error was an “inadvertent mistake.” But mistake or not, Florence is now out of a job.
After slapping three Orthodox Jewish women back-to-back late last year, Tiffany Harris took center stage in the debate over the state’s new bail reform law that ended cash bail, after she was arrested and then released from jail twice. U.S. Attorney General William Barr came to Brooklyn on Tuesday to announce that Harris would be facing federal hate crime charges and could spend up to 30 years in prison. Talk about a slap in the face.
New York City’s complaint and information hotline has some serious issues for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and at a recent City Council hearing, they made sure their complaints were heard. Advocates and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera slammed 311, and its executive director Joe Morrisroe, for the long waits these groups often have to endure to connect with someone. Plus, 311 has posed problems for non-native English speakers. Sounds like the city needs a complaint hotline for its complaint hotline.
Who watches the watchdog? New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, that’s who! Stringer refused to approve a $12 million contract with the New York City Housing Authority’s independent monitor, Bart Schwartz. The reasons? One federal agency has accused Schwartz's firm of running up excessive charges and Schwartz neglected to mention his ties to a controversial activist who has a lot to say about NYCHA. And given how costly fixing NYCHA is, can you blame Stringer for being reluctant to sign off on another potentially pricey ask?