New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer may have said it best: “Queens, which is the world’s borough, now will become the home of soccer, which is the world’s sport.” Sports fans, affordable housing advocates, developers and elected officials welcomed the news that city officials had reached an agreement to build a professional soccer stadium in Willets Point, Queens, as part of a massive mixed-use development. Not only will the 23-acre project end the New York City Football Club’s decadelong search for a permanent home, it’ll also provide homes for several thousand people through 2,500 units of affordable housing. Read on for more of the biggest headlines from this week.
As the final election results rolled in, Democrats’ hold on New York political power shrank even further – as did state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs’ popularity. An analysis by the Times Union of the gubernatorial results showed that every county in New York moved further to the right compared to the 2020 presidential election. Many pundits across the country – and the state itself – argued that by losing several congressional seats, New York Democrats cost the party control of the House of Representatives. This has prompted finger-pointing among New York Democrats as party members try to understand why the blue state was one of the only places where Republicans’ anticipated “red wave” actually ended up taking place. Jacobs in particular has been the subject of much of the outcry. More than 1,100 party leaders, organizations, individuals and local officials, including influential Democrats like state Sens. Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, signed a statement urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to replace Jacobs as party chair. Not everyone blamed Jacobs though – Hochul has continued to defend the embattled leader and over 40 Democratic Party county chairs signed a letter of support for him. There was at least one bright spot for New York Democrats: The party managed to fend off Republicans from taking the U.S. Senate, securing longtime U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer another term as majority leader.
As conditions at Rikers Island have continued to deteriorate, The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project and other lawyers for people detained in the jail complex urged a federal judge in a letter to take operations oversight away from New York City and give it to a third-party administrator. A group of at least seven New York City Council members also asked the judge to implement a federal takeover. A pivotal hearing on the matter was held in which New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the Department of Correction asked the judge to block advocates’ requests, arguing that the city has yet to meet the legal threshold needed to lose their control over the facility. The judge granted the city’s request, giving the city until April to complete its reforms. The hearing came amid an especially deadly year at the troubled jail complex. Eighteen people have died on Rikers Island this year so far, though the jail has a history of negligence and abuse toward the people who are incarcerated there – the majority of whom are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime. In other news relevant to the treatment of detained New Yorkers, hundreds of lawsuits are now scheduled to be filed Nov. 24 under the Adult Survivors Act on behalf of over 750 formerly incarcerated women who allege that they were sexually abused while they were in custody at facilities around the state.
NYC budget grows
Following months of pressure to find savings in light of the billions of dollars in potential budget gaps looming in the years ahead, Adams and his administration announced midyear modifications to the New York City budget intended to save the city $2.5 billion over the next two fiscal years. The revised plan increased this fiscal year’s budget from the originally agreed upon $101 billion to around $104 billion, though it remained balanced, according to city officials. The city attributed the $2.5 billion in savings to streamlining inefficiencies within the city’s bureaucracy. Leaders also promised to formally request the federal government to reimburse the city $1 billion for the influx of migrants who’ve arrived in recent months. Questions about these cuts centered on how much money the city has spent on emergency housing for asylum-seekers, with the controversial tent center erected on Randall’s Island being shut down soon after it opened. City leaders have yet to disclose how much that facility cost, and New York City Comptroller Brad Lander sent a letter to the city’s budget office demanding answers.