This Week's Headline
Abortion, gun rights and rent increases
Rounding up the week’s political news.
It was telegraphed for weeks, including with a major leak to Politico, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the right to end an unwanted pregnancy for millions of people was still somehow a shock. While the state has already moved to protect and codify reproductive rights, New York lawmakers from state Attorney General Letitia James to New York City Mayor Eric Adams to Gov. Kathy Hochul were quick to vent their rage and grief. “Elections have consequences,” Hochul said. “Let that be a message to voters everywhere.” State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called the decision “abhorrent.”
Concealed carry law struck down
In a landmark 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Courtruled that New York’s laws about who can carry a firearm in public were unconstitutional. For more than a century, New Yorkers were required to demonstrate that they were in specific danger to get a permit to carry a gun outside their homes. The plaintiffs in the case were two upstate gun owners and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. Just weeks after a racist mass shooting in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo left 10 people dead, Justice Clarence Thomas, in the opinion for the majority, said a gun owner should need no reason other than the desire to protect themselves to carry a weapon in public. Gov. Kathy Hochul called the decision “frightful in its scope” and quickly vowed to call the state Legislature back into session to craft new legislation to restrict guns without violating the ruling. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement: “Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.” Civil rights groups urged lawmakers to consider racism as they craft new regulations, arguing that nonwhite people have been disproportionately criminalized for gun ownership in the past.
Big rent hikes in NYC
The board of public appointees that sets rent rates for New York City rent-stabilized apartments approved 3.25% increases for one-year leases and 5% increases for two-year leases starting Oct. 1. Those are the highest increases since the Bloomberg administration, and they will impact tenants living in the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized units. Some attributed the landlord-friendly hikes to the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams, who is considered sympathetic to real estate and developer interests. Indeed, two out of Adams’ three appointees on the nine-member board voted for the rent increases. The remaining six appointees, including the chair, were named by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, and half of them supported the increases. The New York City Rent Guidelines Board determines rent changes annually. Last year, it approved a 1.5% increase for the second half of a 12-month lease and a 2.5% increase for a two-year lease.
AOC backs Ana María Archila
In the last week of the campaign, The New York Times reported that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed progressive activist Ana María Archila in the race for lieutenant governor. Ocasio-Cortez is choosing Archila over her former House colleague Antonio Delgado and former Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna. She has not yet weighed in on the governor’s race, where Archila’s informal running mate, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, hopes to oust Gov. Kathy Hochul. An AOC endorsement, even one that comes this late in the cycle, could potentially mobilize a significant number of donors and/or voters, boosting Archila’s profile.
Adams defends Rikers
Adams went to the Rikers Island jail complex after three people who were detained there or recently detained there died in the same week to speak in defense of correction officers and to view items officers had confiscated from detainees. The visit came soon after a federal judge determined that the jails could remain under city control for now, rather than being turned over to federal authorities due to dysfunction. Adams touted a fall in slashings and stabbings at Rikers in recent months and commended officers for confiscating weapons. Despite that rosy perspective, the situation at Rikers remains dire and has been called a “humanitarian crisis” by state lawmakers. Earlier this month, New York City Board of Correction officials testified that the Eric M. Taylor Center intake facility was dangerously overcrowded, with more than 100 people in one intake “pen,” and some detainees unable to access medication or a place to go to the bathroom.