First Read 06/12/2019

June 12, 2019
Latest News
Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive and gubernatorial candidate, has given up trying to get back his Rolex watch that was seized by the FBI as part of a bribery investigation.
The New York City Housing Authority and the New York City Department of Investigation are looking into how NYCHA workers checking for lead ended up using expired dust wipes to certify that apartments were “clean.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, one of the front-runners in the high-stakes race to become the borough’s next district attorney, came under fire during a debate over her dithering stance on cash bail and ties to the county’s “establishment.”
The circumstances surrounding the death of Layleen Polanco, a transgender woman who was being held at the Rikers Island jail complex when she died, quickly garnered national attention, sparking outcry from both transgender rights and criminal justice activists.
As lawmakers work to legalize recreational marijuana, police continue to arrest hundreds of mostly black and Hispanic people for marijuana offenses in the Capital Region’s more urban areas.
Dozens of people backing the Climate and Community Protection Act marched through the halls of the state Capitol, chanted at deafening volumes and blocked entrances, including staging a “die-in” outside Cuomo’s second-floor office.
The Democratic-led Assembly has paid more than $150,000 in taxpayer-funded legal fees to help preserve the recent pay raises for its members in response to a December court challenge of the work of a special compensation commission.
A bill to legalize gestational surrogacy has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and passed the state Senate, but it remains stalled in the Assembly, where several prominent female lawmakers have expressed firm opposition.
New York City health officials expressed optimism that the measles outbreak is slowing, while a bill in Albany seeking to repeal the religious exemption to New York’s school vaccination requirements appears to be moving forward.
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Newly empowered Democratic leaders in Albany announced a landmark agreement to strengthen New York’s rent laws and tenant protections that would abolish vacancy decontrol and close a series of loopholes that permit landlords to raise rents.
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Residents of Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row plan to appeal a court decision that greenlights a homeless shelter in the ritzy neighborhood, the latest turn in a drawn-out legal battle between the residents and New York City.
Hundreds of farmers from across New York were instead gathered at the state Capitol to voice their concerns about the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which they said would negatively impact New York’s agricultural sector.
Veterans are the latest group to campaign for marijuana access in New York and they hope to persuade legislators to expand legal access to cannabis as a treatment option for the state’s roughly 775,000 veterans.
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A coalition of good-government groups are asking the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics to structure its search for a new executive director in a way that promotes independence at the watchdog entity.
Congress took the first step to finally remedy its slow-motion response to the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, passing a bill out of committee that would permanently fund compensation for ailing survivors and first responders.
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New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to unveil a package of bills aimed at preventing inaction by the Taxi and Limousine Commission while cab drivers became mired in reckless loans that saddled them with debt they could not afford.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will extend the cap on new licenses issued to for-hire vehicles as well as set up a new system by August 2020 that ensures drivers carry a passenger at least 69% of the time while in Manhattan’s core.
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Time’s Up advocates and Cuomo called for the approval of a bill that would end the statute of limitations for second- and third-degree rape as well as make changes to the definition of sexual harassment.
The biggest beneficiaries of rent regulation in New York aren’t low-income tenants across New York City, but more affluent, white residents of Manhattan, challenging the view that the plight of tenants is constantly changing for the worse.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that he will sign the omnibus rent reform legislation negotiated by his Democratic counterparts in the state Legislature once it passes later this week.
Editorial Pages
The Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” is so full of distortions and falsehoods about the 1989 Central Park jogger case as to be an outright fabrication, former New York City sex crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein writes.
It’s his business if New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to make a fool of himself nationally, but being mayor is not a part-time gig, so he should do the job or have the decency to give it up.
A judge has struck down restrictions on outside work for state legislators, but the anti-corruption rules were supposed to be part of the deal for higher pay, so the ethical thing for the Legislature to do is either reject the raise or pass a ban on outside income.
State legislators need to move quickly to eliminate the statute of limitations for rape in the second and third degrees and pass other workplace harassment measures to ensure workplaces are safe environments for everyone, Cuomo and actress Juliane Moore write.
From City & State
National Politics
The House approved a measure authorizing the Judiciary Committee to take U.S. Attorney General William Barr to federal court to gain access to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and underlying evidence.
President Donald Trump waved a piece of paper that he said was part of a “very long and very good” secret agreement with Mexico, refusing to describe it but vowing that it will go into effect whenever he wants it to.
Michael Bogren, a Trump judicial nominee, is withdrawing from consideration amid Republican backlash, a rare and embarrassing setback for the White House, which has had little trouble getting the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees.
President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege to block Congress from obtaining documents about how a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census, ahead of a committee vote to recommend that two Cabinet secretaries be held in contempt over the matter.
In Depth
This week, legislators introduced a bill in the state Legislature that, if passed, would make New York the only state to effectively decriminalize sex work, and would be the culmination of years of work by activists in New York’s sex trade industry.
Drivers involved in minor accidents are often issued civil summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian or cyclist that come with a fine in lieu of more serious penalties, but many of those drivers wind up not even paying those fines.