Sexual harassment continued to be an important topic this week, with a New York senator taking the lead on the national conversation. Locally, the ongoing flood of sexual misconduct allegations affected New York’s arts and public media scenes, from the Metropolitan Opera to the New York City Ballet to multiplehosts at WNYC. Meanwhile, the governor of New Jersey inserted himself into the power struggle between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the race for an open state Senate seat got heated and the NYCHA drama dragged into another week.
Gillibrand takes a stand
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first Democratic senator to call for U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who has been accused of sexual harassment by seven women, to step down on Wednesday morning. Her Facebook post denouncing him kickstarted an avalanche of statements from her Senate colleagues calling for Franken’s resignation, including her fellow New Yorker and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. Gillibrand is widely seen as positioning herself to run for president in 2020 – which, if she were joined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, would make four New Yorkers vying for the presidency, including President Donald Trump.
(Photo via Phil Murphy for Governor)
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong – which, for New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, means likely becoming entangled in the ongoing feud between Cuomo and de Blasio. Murphy joined Cuomo in a friendly telephone press conference to denounce the Republican tax reform plan along with California Gov. Jerry Brown, but Murphy’s progressive ideals could soon be at odds with Cuomo’s pragmatic politics. Murphy has more in common with de Blasio, whom he met at Gracie Mansion on Wednesday, and with whom he shares several campaign goals. If Murphy finds a greater ally in de Blasio than Cuomo, it could spell trouble for the neighboring states.
Race to replace Latimer heats up
(Photo via Latimer for Westchester County Executive)
State Sen. George Latimer was recently elected Westchester County executive, leaving a crucial Senate seat up for grabs. Several Democrats have thrown their hats into the ring in anticipation of a special election, including Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer – who received the first union endorsement of the race – Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick and People for Bernie co-founder Kat Brezler. Republican Sarmad M. Khojasteh has also filed to run. The special election could affect the balance of the state Senate, either strengthening the Republican majority or bolstering the Democratic ranks.
Lead-ing questions from the New York City Council
Shola Olatoye. (Photo by a katz/Shutterstock)
The New York City Council grilled city Housing Authority Chairwoman Shola Olatoye at a hearing on Tuesday, as she tried and mostly failed to explain why she’d falsely claimed the agency had performed required lead paint inspections. Olatoye said that she did not inform the mayor of the false reports. City Hall is not exactly blameless, as the administration knew NYCHA was in noncompliance for a year, but the de Blasio team said this week that Olatoye never told the mayor she would incorrectly report that it was in compliance.