First Read 04/25/2019

April 25, 2019
Latest News
After four years of planning and community engagement, the city released an anxiously– awaited proposal to rezone the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn to bring below-market-rate housing, open space and transit improvements.
The administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio quietly banned the display of foreign flags on the poles in city parks, killing a decades-long tradition of hoisting international colors in Bowling Green Park to welcome visiting dignitaries.
New York City bragged about a “historic” 11% drop in childhood lead exposure last year, despite the fact that hundreds of kids living in its own public housing are still getting poisoned by the dangerous chemical.
Con Edison announced an agreement with a pipeline operator to provide additional natural gas to the utility's Westchester County service area that could end Westchester's natural-gas moratorium, but not for four years.
Westchester County officials are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to quickly sign a bill allowing them to raise the county’s sales tax by a percentage point to help avoid property tax increases for the next two years and bulk up reserves.
More private, market-rate apartments are coming to a tower planned within a Lower East Side public housing complex – the latest City Hall move to raise much-needed funds for the struggling New York City Housing Authority.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is asking for a 17-member task force to recommend new ways to admit students to eight specialized high schools that now use a single exam to determine who gets in.
Rep. Peter King said he is prepared to fight a possible free speech lawsuit threatened by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of about 70 Facebook users who have been blocked from posting on the congressman's campaign page.
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New Jersey residents who drive into Manhattan through Hudson River toll entrances won’t have to pay a congestion tax, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced, but MTA officials, who will set tolls and exemptions, had no idea about such an agreement.
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Activist Ravi Ragbir won another reprieve from deportation based on a prior felony conviction as a federal appeals court in Manhattan reinstated his claim that he was targeted because of his outspoken leadership in the immigrant rights movement.
Tenants in luxury apartments in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn that pay as much as $3,600 a month have filed a lawsuit arguing that since the building’s developer received a tax exemption, their apartments should be rent-stabilized.
The state Senate next week will hold a public hearing on limousine and bus safety following last year’s deadly stretch limo crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie.
The New York City Housing Authority is now threatening to evict tenants who do not allow employees to repair possibly lead-tainted paint in their apartments, and has so far mailed 194 letters threatening to boot tenants.
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With measles cases in the U.S. now at a 19-year high, state Sen. David Carlucci announced a bill that would create a state-backed awareness campaign for vaccines that could include a social media presence as well as public service announcements.
Transit and environmental advocates called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to release a detailed timeline for its plan to convert its bus fleet to fully electric vehicles, which agency has vowed to do by 2040.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has raised millions of dollars during his campaigns over the years, has indicated to associates that he will be opening his vast and powerful fundraising network exclusively to Joe Biden for his 2020 presidential run.
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De Blasio also proposed a $92.5 billion executive budget for the upcoming fiscal year after forcing city agencies to cut more than $600 million in spending for the first time on his watch.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year capital budget is near a record-breaking $117 billion, up from a projection of $104 billion when he released a preliminary plan in February.
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Editorial Pages
After Cuomo published an op-ed entitled “35 questions Americans should ask themselves this election season,” Times Union columnist Chris Churchill posed his own series of 35 questions, inspired by the governor.
Field hands should not enjoy any special rights, but neither should they face any special discrimination, so eight decades of legal discrimination against the people who feed us all must end now by giving farm workers collective bargaining rights.
Chances of congestion pricing actually raising the billions needed to fix New York’s broken subway system may have just gotten a lot dimmer as New Jersey announced an exemption deal, another sign congestion pricing is just a power play by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
From City & State
National Politics
Biden announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination in 2020, marshaling his experience and global stature in a bid to lead a party increasingly defined by a younger generation that might be skeptical of his age and ideological moderation.
On the eve of his expected entry into a primary where 19 other Democrats have a head start, former Vice President Joe Biden is counting on his longtime union allies for a show of force.
The Trump administration escalated its defiance of Congress, as the Justice Department refused to let an official testify on Capitol Hill and President Donald Trump vowed to fight what he called a “ridiculous” congressional subpoena of a former top aide.
In a half-dozen town halls from California to Connecticut this week, swing district Democrats fielded few – if any – questions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year probe, even as it threatens to dominate the party’s summer agenda.
Former Vice President Joe Biden announced that he is running for president in 2020, marshaling his experience in a bid to lead a party increasingly defined by a younger generation that might be skeptical of his age and ideological moderation.
In Depth
New Yorkers faced a voting hurdle in 2018 unlike voters in most other major cities: a relatively low number of polling places, scattered unevenly through the city, forcing voters to wait in long lines and makes voting a far more challenging task than it has to be.
Cuomo has in recent weeks repeatedly lashed out at Democratic state legislators and a longtime labor ally, 32BJ SEIU, seeming to have soured on their relationship because of the union’s push for public financing of state elections and its ties to state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi.
A new analysis from the Rockefeller Institute of Government found that if New York legalizes recreational marijuana, the new industry could create as many as 30,700 new jobs and have a total economic output of $4.1 billion.
If a piece of recently passed state legislation gets signed into law, New York would join a small handful of states that require gun owners with a minor in the house to lock up their weapons.