December 4, 2023

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Eyes on Hochul after LaSalle rebuff

“The committee has spoken. The nomination was lost.”

That’s Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins with a definitive take on what happened to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s chief judge pick, Hector LaSalle, on Wednesday.

Her remarks came after 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against advancing LaSalle to a full Senate vote, concluding nearly five hours of public questioning. And it was after Hochul declined to accept the blow, instead sending out a swift statement dismissing the committee’s authority and integrity.

“While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined. … While the Committee plays a role, we believe the Constitution requires action by the full Senate,” the governor said, alluding to her view that “advice and consent” means something more helpful in the New York Constitution than it does in U.S. Constitution.

Nope, the committee speaks for the Senate, Stewart-Cousins said, and there are a lot of other people her conference would love to see chosen as chief judge. When it comes to a legal battle Hochul has threatened…

“I hope, and I’m sure that few of us have time to extract revenge, and so on,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We have work to do.”

Whether that’s a statement or a warning, it begs the question of how Hochul will react to losing her first big power struggle with the state Legislature and whether she can afford to hold the kind of grudges that often fester in Albany.

If Hochul sues the Senate (it’s still unclear what kind of jurisdiction this would fall under, Judiciary Chair Brad Hoylman-Sigal said) what’s to stop dual supermajorities from overriding any or every one of her gubernatorial vetoes?

She doesn’t have too many other open nominations aside from her recommendation for New York Power Authority head. But she does have a handful of open spots to lead agencies within her administration — including at Tax, Health, Corrections, Budget, Thruway State Police and Child and Family Services — that will eventually require nominations and legislative approval.

More pressingly, she’s got an executive budget filled with grand plans to transform housing and mental health over the next several years that she’ll need to introduce by Feb. 1. And then it’ll be time to negotiate with an emboldened Legislative majority that just got a sweet taste of flexing its authority.

IT’S THURSDAY. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know … By email: [email protected] and [email protected] or on Twitter: @annagronewold and @sallygold

WHERE’S KATHY? Making an economic development announcement in New York City.

WHERE’S ERIC? Delivering remarks at Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Anti-Crime Summit, calling in live to WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” hosting an appreciation event for street and subway outreach staff, meeting with with Consul General of Italy Fabrizio Di Michele, Governor of Piedmont Alberto Cirio and Mayor of Turin Stefano Lo Russo, delivering remarks at the Annual Sashing of 2023 Grand Marshals of Pulaski Day Parade.

Eric Adams pressures Biden to address migrant crisis as New York costs soar, by POLITICO’s Julia Marsh: “There’s no more room” in New York City to house asylum seekers, Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday, putting new pressure on the Biden administration to immediately address the migrant crisis. “We’re at that point,” Adams said during POLITICO’s The Fifty: America’s Mayors, a virtual interview on the sidelines of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington. “At the same time we’re going to continue to do our moral and legal obligation,” Adams, a Democrat, said.

BY THE NUMBERS: Mayor Eric Adams has no serious reelection challenger yet, and he’s aggressively raising funds to fend off any potential threats down the line. As of a campaign filing made public on Wednesday, Adams had taken in nearly $1.3 million for his 2025 bid — a haul bolstered by support from the city’s lucrative real estate industry. Adams, who sided with the sector in rhetoric and policy during his first year in office, received the maximum allowable donation of $2,100 from luxury developer William Lie Zeckendorf, and took in cash from other builders and brokers. He hasn’t spent much yet, but hosted a fundraiser at his go-to restaurant — Osteria La Baia. He also got a $2,100 donation from Akiva Ofshtein, a lawyer who represents the brothers operating the restaurant.

Campaign attorney Vito Pitta sent a statement saying the filing demonstrates “strong support for his effective efforts to reduce crime, increase affordability and lead New York forward.” Real estate executives are also pleased by the mayor’s embrace of their contentious policies, including the 421-a tax break that lapsed in Albany last year and will likely be the subject of negotiations this session. The mayor hasn’t yet returned two over-the-limit contributions recorded in an earlier filing, but a rep said at least one refund is in progress. — Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta

NYC Correction Dept. blocks watchdog from unfettered access to Rikers video footage,” by WNYC’s Matt Katz: “The Adams administration is blocking the government agency that oversees Rikers Island from independently accessing video footage from inside the jails, officials said Wednesday. The Board of Correction watchdog agency posted the news on its website. The group will still be able to watch videos if members or staff request to do so at a designated location during business hours. But they will lose their unfettered access to video footage, both archived and in real time, from about 14,000 wall-mounted surveillance cameras in the jails, as well as footage from officers’ body-worn and handheld cameras.”

Public Hospital Nurses Rally for Union Deal To Match Private Peers’ Recent Win,” by THE CITY’s Claudia Irizarry Aponte: “Dozens of nurses from the city’s public hospitals system picketed the agency’s lower Manhattan headquarters on Wednesday demanding safe staffing standards on par with those recently won by their private sector colleagues, as they gear up to renegotiate their union contract. Nurses contend the city’s public hospitals face even worse staff-to-patient ratios than the private sector.”

Supreme Court Again Rejects Request to Block New York Gun Law,” by The New York Times’ Adam Liptak: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down a request from firearms dealers in New York to block parts of recent state laws that they said violated their Second Amendment rights. The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications. On Jan. 11, the court, also without comment, rejected a request to block other provisions of one of the laws at issue in the new case.”

Rent is so high in New York, families need help with child care, food,” by Times Union’s Kathleen Moore: “Many families in New York are now paying so much in rent that they are having trouble covering all of their children’s needs, including food — causing a call from the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York for the state to provide free school lunches and more help in subsidizing child care.”

Erie County Legislature boundaries in Antarctica? Error-riddled descriptions of districts yield lawsuit,” by Buffalo News’ Sandra Tan: “New boundary lines were drawn for the Erie County Legislature and unanimously approved more than a year ago, but it turns out the legal descriptions for those 11 districts are so riddled with errors that they send some district lines into Antarctica. Now, Ralph Mohr, the Republican commissioner for the Erie County Board of Elections, is suing the Legislature, Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner and County Executive Mark Poloncarz over the incorrect boundaries.”

#UpstateAmerica: Property taxes rose 7.5 percent in Cairo Town after a clerical error — again.

Rep. George Santos quietly opens Queens district office,” by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin and David Cruz: “The only indication that Rep. George Santos finally opened a district office in Queens was the lone staff member sitting inside on Wednesday scrolling through his phone. The district office in Douglaston still features an awning bearing the name of Tom Suozzi, Santos’ predecessor for the seat covering Queens and parts on Long Island. When Gothamist entered the office, the staffer, who would not give his name, asked to speak outside on the sidewalk where he directed all inquiries to a spokesperson in Washington, D.C.”

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg wants to pause ex-prosecutor’s tell-all book about Trump investigation,” by Daily News’ Molly Crane-Newman: “Bragg’s office claims the author, Mark Pomerantz — a veteran white-collar lawyer who blamed the DA when he quit the team investigating the ex president — shirked a legal obligation to get permission to pen ‘People vs. Donald Trump.’ ‘Mr. Pomerantz has neither sought nor received approval to make disclosures relating to ongoing matters at the DA’s office, and this office has not reviewed any drafts or excerpts of his manuscript,” the DA’s lawyer Leslie Dubeck wrote Wednesday to attorneys for publisher Simon & Schuster, Paramount and Pomerantz.”

— Convicted NXIVM leader Keith Raniere has a new bid for freedom.

— AG Tish James hosted a mental health forum in Buffalo to “root out areas of dysfunction and discuss potential avenues for reform.”

— New York City is still not back to operating all of its sexual health clinics.

— Fordham University could face a 600 instructors’ strike by the end of the month.

— New citywide research would soon monitor Manhattan groundwater levels, their rising, and threats to the city.

— JFK planes keep having some close collisions.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jon Karl … CNN’s John Avlon and Evan McMorris-Santoro … Bloomberg’s Tyler Kendall … Vice News’ Subrata De … NYT’s Ben Torres Alexis Gay … (was Tuesday) City Council’s Faiza Ali

MEDIAWATCH — Sarah Belle Lin is now a reporter covering education and general assignments at amNewYork. She most recently was newsletter and retail reporting fellow at Business Insider.

MAKING MOVES — Marina Pearce is joining House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ team as deputy finance director. She previously was finance director for Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-N.J.) campaign.

Historic Bed-Stuy Block to Get Office Towers in Proposed Development,” by The CITY’s Katie Honan: “Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn is headed for a transformation over the next decade, creating hundreds of thousands of feet of office and culture space inside buildings rising as high as 16 stories, papers filed Tuesday with the Department of City Planning show. The environmental review documents provide the first detailed peek at the future of the block of Fulton Street between New York and Brooklyn avenues, for a project first announced in 2019 and led by British architect Sir David Adjaye, who also designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.”

Gambino mobster Frank Camuso busted in sprawling NYC construction kickback scheme,” by New York Post’s Elizabeth Rosner and Larry Celona: “A reputed Gambino captain was among two dozen people busted in a sprawling, multi-million dollar construction kickback scheme that affected several significant high-rise construction projects in Manhattan, authorities said Wednesday. Frank Camuso, 59, was busted alongside ringleader Robert Basilice, who as the vice president of a construction management firm illegally steered property developers to subcontractors he was conspiring with, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.”

He Admitted Stealing Peoples’ Homes. He’s Charged With Doing It Again,” by The New York Times’ Stefanos Chen: “Sanford Solny, a real estate investor and disbarred lawyer who has been accused of stealing dozens of homes in New York City, mostly from Black and Latino homeowners, was charged on Wednesday with crimes related to the theft of four more properties in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office charged Mr. Solny with criminal possession of stolen property and scheming to defraud homeowners.”