First Read 04/15/2019

April 15, 2019
Latest News
Former New York City Councilman Kendall Stewart is accused of threatening a tenant in an East Flatbush building, and police have charged him with menacing, criminal mischief, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment.
The Long Island Rail Road is gradually scaling back on its use of paper, as more commuters look to their phones, rather than printed materials, for schedule and service information.
Soon, police “shall” – rather than “may” – issue court appearance tickets for most misdemeanors and some low-level felonies instead of bringing people to Central Booking, sparing many low-level offenders jail time.
Yemeni-American bodega owners have begun boycotting the New York Post following an inflammatory cover last week with an out-of-context quote from Rep. Ilhan Omar about 9/11 they feared would stoke anti-Muslim violence.
In recent months, dozens of riders have reported injuries while riding electric Citi Bikes, prompting the company to pull all of the approximately 1,000 electric bicycles from New York City’s streets amid safety concerns about the brakes.
L train riders who were spared one massive headache earlier this year might now have to deal with a lot of little ones, if recent after-hours repair-related delays are any guide.
Congestion pricing won’t just reduce traffic while funding improvements to the subway – Polly Trottenberg, New York City’s transportation chief, says it could also lead to wider sidewalks, expanded bus and bike lanes and new pedestrian plazas.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s close relationship with the city’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has also led to problems, and the recent measles outbreak in that community illustrates that complex relationship.
Local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys will have to reconcile how to pay for sweeping criminal justice reforms that were passed with great fanfare by state lawmakers but left unfunded in the budget.
The next state elections are 19 months away, but divides within the Democratic base are already roiling the party’s elected officials in Albany, as evidenced by dueling demonstrations protesting and supporting Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Republicans, now firmly in the minority in both state houses, portray a vision of the new state fiscal plan that shows Democrats were eager to grab the spoils that came with their political victories last fall at the expense of upstate.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the state Legislature to back a new law that would raise the cap to allow more charter schools to open in New York City before the legislative session ends in June.
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Following a week in which three construction workers died in separate workplace accidents, New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. is renewing a push for the implementation of a construction safety training law passed in 2017.
The Legal Aid Society wants the New York City Council to stop the NYPD’s controversial practice of collecting DNA, claiming it is “racially biased” and constitutes a “significant infringement on young people’s civil rights.”
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The MTA announced that during the re-installation of hundreds of recalled “undercar scanner antennas” for crash prevention technology on the Long Island Rail Road, workers discovered another mistake with how another component was being installed.
Suffolk County has become the first county in New York to adopt a charitable gift fund workaround so that homeowners can make a charitable deduction equivalent to their property taxes and avoid the $10,000 cap on state and local taxes.
Democratic state Sen. John Brooks announced the introduction of a bill that would expand a program for tuition aid to Gold Star families in New York after a similar bill from Republicans was blocked, producing swift backlash.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey named Sam Ruda, who has served as interim director for the past five months, as the authority’s new director and Bethann Rooney as the deputy director of the Port Department.
New York City will start X-raying thousands of public housing apartments for lead to curb exposure to the dangerous chemical, with 5,000 and 7,000 NYCHA apartments tested every month as part of the $88 million effort.
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Barbara Brancaccio, the new spokeswoman for the New York City Housing Authority pointedly criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s record on homelessness when she worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Democrat Tedra Cobb announced that she will once again challenge GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik in the 21st Congressional District after losing to her in 2018.
In a new lawsuit, a group of parents are claiming their religious beliefs were violated and that New York City officials overstepped their bounds when they issued an emergency order last week making measles vaccinations mandatory.
Editorial Pages
Washington is threatening Western New York’s economy – if it takes border agents from here to bolster the crushing need at the southern border we will be in trouble, and we can’t allow that to happen.
A better approach to get Trump’s tax returns is a comprehensive bill to require the release of New York personal tax returns by all officials elected statewide, all state legislators and all elected federal officials who claim the state as their legal residence.
Sitting in the files of the state Department of Taxation and Finance are Trump’s state income tax returns, and though Cuomo backs a bill for New York to share those documents with Congress, he must sign a state bill to make them public.
Just when you think New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sleaze can’t get sleazier, it does – his latest real-estate scandal involves the city’s purchase of substandard housing from politically connected slumlords at well above market value, Nicole Gelinas writes.
From City & State
National Politics
House Democrats are sharpening their focus on White House immigration adviser Stephen Miller, with key lawmakers saying he should be brought before congressional committees to testify about his role in recent policy controversies.
President Donald Trump raised more than $30 million for his re-election in the first three months of 2019 and now sits atop more than $40 million after launching an aggressive fundraising push earlier than his predecessors.
Three House Democratic committee chairmen launched a probe into reports that the White House pressured immigration enforcement officials to release migrants into the districts of political adversaries.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr is set to release on Thursday morning a redacted version of the report special counsel Robert Mueller submitted at the conclusion of his two-year Russia probe.
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In Depth
Eight years into Cuomo’s tenure as governor, a series of gradual security upgrades means that visitors to the state Capitol encounter an obstacle course more daunting than it was in 2011, when Cuomo pledged to make the building more accessible.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has long advocated for a citywide chief diversity officer, has pushed the issue to the fore as the 2019 charter revision commission considers what changes to the city’s central governing document it will propose.
New York Harbor is too busy to handle the volume of container ships that it gets, which is where the vision behind creating a new transportation and logistics hub along the Buffalo waterfront as part of the Port Authority could come into play.