New Yorkers were reminded this week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio don’t seem to like each other, as the governor impeded the mayor’s plan to relocate an East Harlem playground and criticized his handling of subway issues. Meanwhile, the MTA board introduced new measures, de Blasio’s plan to reduce congestion got stuck in traffic, and Suffolk County lived up to Long Island’s growing reputation for corruption. Here are the biggest headlines for this week.
Budget blues for New York Republicans
The House of Representatives narrowly approved a budget blueprint that would allow President Donald Trump’s tax proposal to pass in Congress without any Democratic votes. The plan would cuts taxes by as much as $1.5 trillion over the next decade, while provisions to offset the cost could include a repeal of the state and local tax deduction, which would disproportionately hurt states with high taxes. Several New York politicians have spoken against the repeal, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to members of the GOP congressional delegation. Of the 20 Republican members to vote against the budget bill on Thursday, seven were from New York. The only two New York congressmen to vote “yes” were Reps. Chris Collins, a prominent Trump supporter, and Tom Reed.
District Attorney Thomas Spota
Spota in a load of trouble
Two Suffolk County officials were indicted on federal charges Wednesday. District Attorney Thomas Spota and an aide, Christopher McPartland – who, um, runs the political corruption unit – allegedly participated in the cover-up of then-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect in 2012. After county lawmakers from both parties called on Spota to resign, the longest serving DA in the county’s history stepped down on Thursday.
Subway improvements on track
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors met this week and voted on several measures to push the subway system into the 21st century. The board approved a $573 million contract for a fare payment system modeled after the London Underground, where riders will be able tap cellphones or debit and credit cards on turnstiles beginning late next year. The board also voted to prohibit alcohol advertisements at MTA properties.
Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc.
With friends like this, de Blasio doesn’t need enemies
The trial for Norman Seabrook, the former president of New York City’s correction officers union facing federal corruption charges, began this week, but all eyes were on Jona Rechnitz, the government’s key witness and a former donor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. During his testimony on Thursday, Rechnitz recounted how he used his wealth to obtain influence and favors from prominent politicians such as de Blasio, whom he called his friend.
Critics pass on de Blasio’s congestion plan
De Blasio revealed his five-point plan to reduce congestion this week, but was criticized for continuing to resist congestion pricing as an option. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said that congestion pricing is necessary for any plan to ease traffic in her borough. Even David Jones, a de Blasio appointee to the MTA board, penned an op-ed urging the mayor to reconsider his opposition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also took the opportunity to intensify his feud with de Blasio over transit issues, criticizing the city’s response to a photo of a homeless person sleeping under the seats in a subway car, although transit advocates fear that the public spats between the mayor and the governor impede potential fixes to the subway system.
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