Bill de Blasio

Cabán’s likely upset and de Blasio’s big debate

Rounding up the week’s political news.

Queens District Attorney candidate Tiffany Caban speaks with civil rights activist Tamika Mallory, following a press conference calling for an investigation into the false conviction of the Central Park Five.

Queens District Attorney candidate Tiffany Caban speaks with civil rights activist Tamika Mallory, following a press conference calling for an investigation into the false conviction of the Central Park Five. Bebeto Matthews/AP/Shutterstock

Did anyone feel the earthquake in Queens? A minor quake was reported in Long Island City on Tuesday evening, only 0.9 on the Richter scale.

If you didn’t feel it, maybe it’s because it was the smaller of two earthquakes to hit Queens that evening – and the aftershocks of the other one will reverberate through the borough, the state and possibly the nation for years to come.

Cabán declares victory

After a hard-fought and contentious campaign, progressive insurgent Tiffany Cabán declared victory in the Queens district attorney race against five other candidates, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who has not yet conceded. About 1,000 votes separate Cabán and Katz, and there are more than 6,300 paper ballots that won’t be counted for several more days. The contest had a last-minute twist when New York City Councilman Rory Lancman dropped out and endorsed Katz, but the move was not enough to put Katz over the top. Cabán promises major changes, like decriminlizing sex work and drugs, and cracking down on bad landlords.

More sexual harassment in Albany

After a landmark state legislative session ushered in stronger protections for victims of sexual harassment, another accusation rocked Albany. Robert Freeman, the longtime head of the state Committee on Open Government, was fired after a journalist reported him for sexually harassing her. Freeman had been an invaluable source for reporters for his knowledge on transparency and open records laws. After the news broke of his firing, other journalists and public officials came forward to say that they had also experienced harassment when working with him.

De Blasio on the debate stage

Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan and Julian Castro were among 10 to face off during the first presidential debate Wednesday!
Michele Eve Sandberg/Shutterstock

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participated in the first Democratic presidential primary debate, towering above the nine other candidates on the stage. Although he had fewer chances to speak than his competitors, he nonetheless made an impression. He was the first to interrupt another candidate and initiate debate, hammered home his anti-corruption message and distinguished himself as one of only two people on the stage who would eliminate private insurance in favor of “Medicare for all.”

Rent increases in NYC

Pleasing nobody, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board decided to approve a modest increase in rents for rent-stabilized apartments – 1.5% for one-year leases and 2.5% for two-year leases. This is the same increase the board approved last year. Tenant advocates wanted another rent freeze, like in 2015 and 2016, while landlords called for a higher increase to account for inflating costs of maintenance and upkeep. The decision came shortly after the enactment of new rent regulation laws statewide that added significant new tenant protections.

Citizenship question on 2020 census 

Demonstrators gathered at the Supreme Court as justices finish the term with key decisions on gerrymandering and a census case involving an attempt by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, on Capitol H
J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s reasoning for including a question about citizenship on the 2020 census is inadequate, and the court removed the question – for now. The court did not find the question itself unconstitutional and did not completely rule out the possibility that the question could still appear on the census form. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. left the door open for the Trump administration to offer a better reason for why it should be included.

Alphonso David leaves Albany

After spending years with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in both the executive mansion and the state attorney general’s office, Alphonso David is departing to become the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights group. During his tenure with Cuomo, David worked on a number of key LGBTQ issues. In 2015, he was appointed counsel to the governor, making him one of the most powerful people in the state. David will now become the first person of color to head the Human Rights Campaign.