There’s been some debate over whether it’s fair for the New York City Department of Sanitation to describe itself as a paramilitary organization. Sure, they’re highly structured, and their top leaders wear little gold stars on their collars, but the trash collectors aren’t planning to overthrow the government… yet. Still, we’ve got to give the DSNY credit for riding its massive trucks through the streets and liberating the city from our 17.2 inches of snow. Syracuse, we don’t know how you handle it. Here’s this week’s cool winners and frost-bitten losers.
Amy Paulin & Brad Hoylman -
In a hard-fought victory for transgender activists, the state has finally repealed the so-called “walking while trans ban.” The outdated law prohibited “loitering for the purpose of prostitution,” but advocates said the provision was frequently abused and used to target trans women of color for the crime of *checks notes* existing in public. Conservatives lamented the passage of the bill championed by Assembly Member Amy Paulin and state Sen. Brad Hoylman, complaining it decriminalized prositution. While there are certainly those who want to decriminalize sex work, this most certainly did not. This was a victory for LGBTQ equality, pure and simple.
James Gennaro -
For everyone who was looking forward to a close contest that would trigger in an instant runoff in New York City Council District 24, Tuesday’s ranked-choice election was a letdown. But you know who wasn’t disappointed by the results? James Gennaro, who looks like he’ll be gliding to reelection with around 60% of the votes.
Josefa Velasquez -
Earlier this week, Andrew Cuomo announced that restaurant workers would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Kind of awkward that literally a day before, he told Josefa Velásquez, senior reporter at The City, that it couldn't happen: “You want to add someone? We already don’t have enough?” They apparently had enough the next day, though, so props to Velasquez for making them order more — or just embarrassing them into doing it.
Howard Zucker -
The state’s health commissioner is continuing to feel the heat this week after Attorney General Letitia James released a damning 76-page report alleging that the state severely undercounted its number of nursing home deaths by as much as 50%, last week. Now, the state’s Republicans and Democrats are calling for Zucker to step down from his position, over James’ report.
The Rochester Police Department has undergone a significant shakeup in the last six months, as its chief was ousted over the death of Daniel Prude last year. And while Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan stepped in as interim chief promising reforms, an incident last weekend – in which a 9-year-old girl in distress was pepper sprayed by cops – suggests that the department’s problems go much deeper than Herriott-Sullivan can solve on her own.
James F. Kobel -
People who lead anti-harassment initiatives in the workplace by definition shouldn't also be posting bigoted rants online. But that didn't stop Deputy Inspector James F. Kobel, who was fired by the NYPD after he was confirmed to have posted racist and sexist comments on an online message board about Black, Latino and Jewish people. The revelations about his behavior hardly reflected well on the NYPD given ongoing criticism about the prevalence of racism among its officers. For Kobel, things could still be worse. While he's lost his job, he still gets to keep his pension and continues to have the support of his union.