Someone ought to hide Pizza Rat, that New York City icon, because Mayor Bill de Blasio is now the “rat killer,” as he was dubbed by mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips. De Blasio rolled out a new dry ice extermination method for NYCHA complexes to rid apartments of rodents. One wily rat managed to escape the dry ice (which, for the record, was not sprayed by the mayor, who does not have the proper training and did not actually kill any rats) and evaded multiple attempts by NYCHA workers to catch or kill it. That, and more, in this week’s headlines.
WFP endorses Nixon
The Working Families Party endorsed gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on April 14, a few weeks ahead of its nominating convention in May. The move is a significant rebuke of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been accused of threatening to pull state funding from activist groups affiliated with the WFP in response. It also exacerbated a rift between labor unions, many of whom support Cuomo, and the WFP, with three more unions backing out of the party Friday night ahead of the announcement. WFP State Director Bill Lipton insisted that the small but influential third party will not be a spoiler in the general election as some fear, and will reassess its endorsement of Nixon if she fails to win the Democratic primary.
Jailbirds rock the vote
Although voting and criminal justice reforms fell out of this year’s state budget, Cuomo took matters into his own hands by signing an executive order to allow felons on parole in the state to vote. According to the governor, that would open the ballot box to 35,000 people. But the order doesn’t change the state law, which would require legislative approval. Rather, Cuomo would issue a conditional pardon to any felon on parole now or in the future, thus granting them the ability to vote. Republicans criticized the move, with state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan calling it a “radical departure” from the legislative process.
First day back
The state Legislature was back in session on Monday after a two-week post-budget vacation, and the state Senate Democratic reunification became, somewhat awkwardly, official. Former state Senate Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein moved into a new, smaller, office. On Tuesday, former state Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris handed over the reins (and his chair) to Klein. And layoffs and pay cuts loomed for former IDC staffers.