First Read 12/03/2019

December 03, 2019
Latest News
New York has quietly established a program that expands access to clean syringes in far-flung areas of the state as health officials work to reduce overdose deaths and control the spread of infection and disease among injection drug users.
Democratic congressional hopeful Melodie Baker officially launched her campaign for the 27th Congressional District, even as opponent Nate McMurray appears to have sewn up the backing of most county leaders for the seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Collins.
Officials in Newark, New Jersey, are suing New York City and de Blasio in an attempt to shut down a program that relocates homeless families from the Big Apple to New Jersey, and dumps them in squalid and inhumane conditions.
While parent associations at some New York City public schools scrape together a few hundred dollars a year, others raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that pay for arts programs, librarians and field trips.
State Attorney General Letitia James urged those who believe they have faced housing bias to report it, and she said her office “will get to the bottom of any pattern or practice on Long Island with the full weight of the attorney general and the full weight of the law.”
As a result of a new report from the commission tasked with creating a system of public campaign financing, a significant amount of enforcement work at the state Board of Elections appears to be headed away from the independent enforcement counsel’s office.
The first significant storm of the season brought a test for New York City’s snow equipment, and it failed, with SEIU Local 246 President Joseph Colangelo calling it an ominous sign for the city’s preparedness for the next big blizzard.
De Blasio wouldn’t say if he’d blame any of his commissioners if New York City mishandled another snowstorm, even though that’s what happened last year when he fired then-Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is warning Democrats to resist now-presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s enticements, but in his eagerness to do so, he is perhaps diminishing himself in the process.
In its first major gun rights case in nearly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments from New York City, which told the high court that a National Rifle Association-backed lawsuit challenging a now-defunct gun transport rule is moot.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has long-standing ties to the state official who dismissed a whistleblower’s claim that the governor was illegally tipped off to a potential probe into a crooked former top aide, Joseph Percoco.
The Empire State Building has been named by Uber as the No. 1 tourist attraction in the world that its users traveled to this year, with lower Manhattan’s Freedom Tower taking the No. 2 spot.
America First Policies, a group aligned with President Donald Trump, launched a $2 million ad campaign to pressure Rep. Anthony Brindisi and 26 other House members to vote against Trump’s impeachment.
State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo are planning to introduce a bill that would go beyond making Uber and Lyft drivers employees by also allowing them to unionize, a move that could clash with federal labor and antitrust laws.
A new state law signed by Cuomo will prevent landlords from harassing rent-regulated tenants or fostering dangerous and disruptive conditions that compel them to move.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the park police who patrol New York state’s green spaces and historic sites are being folded into the New York State Police due to significant increases in attendance at state parks in recent years.
Having spent the better part of a week dodging questions about the appearance of multiple “thin blue line” flags on New York City Police Department property, Mayor Bill de Blasio is now suggesting the photos could have been doctored.
Although Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie didn’t explicitly say the word “tax,” he did say closing the state’s $6.1 billion budget gap, fueled in large part by a Medicaid gap of $4 billion, should be done through seeking new revenue.
State lawmakers are touting a revamped bill that would lead the state to pull pension funds from fossil fuel companies after changes were made to reduce the financial risks and make sure the measure was constitutional.
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Michael Bloomberg proposed a criminal justice plan to dramatically slash the number of inmates behind bars if elected president, including by eliminating cash bail for many nonviolent criminal defendants, an issue that is raging now in New York.
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Editorial Pages
Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners is absolutely right to pursue an answer about politicking on government time, and the roadblocks that County Executive Daniel McCoy is putting in his way make the public wonder about what he’s trying to hide.
Upstate and Western New York businesses would do well to take the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s advice and bid for any part of the $51.5 billion to modernize New York City’s buses, trains and subways.
Since the gun rules in question in a U.S. Supreme Court case are gone, New York City should win in a walk on mootness grounds, but if it ever gets to the merits, New York should win there too because the rules were constitutional.
New Yorkers have made their voices clear about the city’s gun transportation ban through their elected representatives when they repealed the law, and the U.S. Supreme Court justices would be wise to let them have the last word.
From City & State
National Politics
House Republicans offered a preview of their defense strategy as Democrats’ drive to impeach Trump moves to its next phase, largely reiterating their previous defenses of the president and criticizing House Democrats for pursuing impeachment.
House Democrats are debating whether to expand the articles of impeachment to include charges beyond abuse of power in the Ukraine controversy, setting up a potential internal clash as the party races to impeach President Donald Trump by Christmas.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr told Justice Department officials that he is skeptical of the department’s inspector general’s conclusion that the FBI had sufficient information to open the investigation into whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia in 2016.
Kamala Harris is ending her presidential campaign after months of failing to lift her candidacy from the bottom of the field – a premature departure for a California senator once heralded as a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination.
House Democrats can access Trump’s private financial records from two banks, a federal appeals court ruled, finding a “public interest” in refusing to block congressional subpoenas.
House Democrats released a 300-page impeachment report asserting that Trump abused his power by trying to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election and that he placed his own interests above those of the U.S.
In Depth
In the nearly two years since New York state began widely authorizing farmers to grow hemp, farmers have had to go to unusual lengths to protect their crops because so many people – from thieves to law enforcement officials – mistake it for marijuana.
In early 2014, Cuomo made a bold, if unsuccessful, proposal to reduce recidivism by creating opportunities for higher education in state prisons, but it took nearly four more years before a similar plan was recrafted and set in motion again.
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