It was another busy week in New York that was eventful all the way through. This week started with the FBI raid of Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins’ home and office – and his subsequent resignation. And it ended strong with fresh reporting that, in a bid to get then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul off his ticket, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to set her up with a job in the Biden administration. Hopefully nothing too major happens (cough cough Assembly impeachment investigation report) over the long weekend – we all deserve some time to relax. Keep reading for the rest of this week’s news.
The first 45
Gov. Kathy Hochul has officially been in office for 45 days, the unofficial deadline she gave to herself to get her administration set up – and to rid it of holdover loyalists to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Since Cuomo resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, Hochul has had a fairly eventful early start to her tenure, beginning first with the remnants of a hurricane that brought with it deadly flooding. She has sought to differentiate herself from her predecessor first and foremost in tone, putting an emphasis on cooperation with the state Legislature. In more concrete measures, Hochul implemented a statewide vaccine mandate for various health care workers, and though it’s still being fought in court, vaccination rates have gone up ahead of enforcement. She also got the ball rolling on issues that stalled under Cuomo, including getting rent relief money out the door and appointing members of the Cannabis Control Board. And she did get rid of many Cuomo cronies – although not quite all of them. Perhaps most notably, Hochul retained state Budget Director Robert Mujica, a key member of Cuomo’s inner circle who is recognized by members of both parties as a budgetary expert and a professional. Progressives met the decision with wariness, one of a handful of indicators that the good feelings may not last past January.
Endorsements roll in for Hochul
The new governor also enjoyed some new – albeit controversial – support for her reelection. The week kicked off with an announcement from state Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs that he is endorsing Hochul. He emphasized that the endorsement did not reflect the will of the state party, but simply his own personal belief that she is the best candidate. Still, many regarded the announcement as an inappropriate decision and believed that he should remain unbiased through the primary process. Jacobs has made it no secret that he has been trying to discourage other candidates from running to prevent party disunity and turmoil that could result from a contentious primary. But a call to Cuomo before the endorsement was perhaps the most controversial part of the announcement. A close ally of the governor prior to his resignation, Jacobs said he called Cuomo as a “courtesy” to give him a “heads up” about what was coming. The revelation led some, including women who accused the ex-governor of sexual harassment, to say that Hochul should replace Jacobs as the head of the party, a call Hochul indicated she has no immediate intention to heed. Hochul also gained the support of several different upstate county Democratic Party leaders as well after Jacobs weighed in.
Lovely Warren to step down
The twisting, turning saga that has been Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s time in office seems to have reached its conclusion. Facing a felony charge related to campaign finance violations, Warren agreed to a plea deal that will see her resign at the beginning of December in return for decreasing the felony charge to a misdemeanor. The plea also settles charges of child endangerment after weapons were found in her home during a search related to drug charges against her estranged husband. Warren lost reelection and was set to leave office in January anyway, but the plea deal brings her tale to an end just a little bit sooner.
Blaz scrutinized for police detail
The New York City Department of Investigation released a report on alleged misuse by Mayor Bill de Blasio of his police security detail for personal reasons, and during his presidential campaign. It concluded that he had indeed misused city resources, and the mayor has refused to pay back over $300,000 for the security provided for him during his ill-fated run for president. Apparently, the city Conflicts of Interest Board even warned de Blasio in 2019 that he would have to pay back the security costs, according to the DOI report. It also found that the mayor essentially used his police detail as a “concierge service” for family, staff and guests even when he wasn’t in the car, in addition to helping his daughter move. De Blasio strongly defended his use of his security detail, calling the report inaccurate.