The mood among New York’s political consort gathered in Puerto Rico this weekend: “Now what?”
Democrats at the SOMOS conference in San Juan are grateful they don’t have to pivot to combating a Republican governor at every turn, like they would have if Rep. Lee Zeldin ousted Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday. But few have a clear idea of what comes next for the party after their fractures and disconnects were laid bare in too- narrow wins and some losses across state and congressional races.
One popular scapegoat: State party chair Jay Jacobs, who guides where and how Democrats’ campaign resources are spent. What does it mean to be chair in the current environment, and is Jacobs actually delivering the way Democrats need to avoid a devastating 2024? Multiple Democrats on Thursday said “no.”
But Hochul says “yes.” “I think [Jacobs] did a great job as chair, and he continues as chair. We’re not changing anything,” she said after a visit to a K-8 school in San Juan to hand out backpacks.
The other issue is public safety, where Republicans gained the upper hand in multiple races by nailing their opponents on the state’s bail laws. Both Hochul and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday said they wanted to have conversations to make sure that New Yorkers feel protected within the state’s criminal justice laws. But neither laid out how those talks would be any different than the same rigmarole they’ve been experiencing since those laws were first passed in 2019.
It doesn’t help that back in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams was clear on who shouldn’t take the blame for any divides: himself. Some critics have called out Adams’ relentless focus on crime — which has been in juxtaposition to Hochul and legislative leadership — for playing into GOP talking points that guided some victories, but Adams called that “twilight zone” thinking.
“Come on, let’s get real here. If every poll shows that New Yorkers are concerned about crime, and their mayor is responding to their concern, who should be at fault? Those who ignored the concern,” he said on Thursday. “To say Eric was talking about crime — duh, New Yorkers were talking about crime. … I didn’t create the climate, I responded to the climate.”
Instead, he faulted Democrats to his left for resisting a tough-on-crime message: “For whatever reason. they felt if you came out openly and said ‘I support my law enforcement’ like I do all the time, they felt as though they were going to lose the fringe arm of the party. And I just refuse to believe that.”
WHERE’S KATHY? Making an announcement with the governor of Puerto Rico.
WHERE’S ERIC? Speaking at the mayor’s Veterans Day breakfast, participating in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony, marching in the Veterans Day parade, and traveling to Puerto Rico for the Somos conference.
“Mayor Adams Set to Shut Down Randall’s Island Tent Complex for Asylum-Seekers,” by City Limits’ David Brand: “Mayor Eric Adams is shutting down the controversial Randall’s Island tent complex for newly arrived immigrants and moving the remaining residents to a Manhattan hotel next week, less than a month after first opening the facility, City Limits has learned. The decision to close the sprawling structure — dubbed a ‘Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center’ (HERRC)— was outlined out in an email to lawmakers and confirmed by a senior City Hall official, the chair of the City Council’s Immigration Committee and three others familiar with the plan. The residents will be moved to the 600-room Watson Hotel on West 57th Street sometime between Nov. 14 and Nov. 18, according to an email from the Mayor’s Office to Councilmember Shahana Hanif, the chair of the immigration committee.”
“Mayor Adams returns focus to state bail laws, days after the election,” by Gothamist’s Elizabeth Kim and Jon Campbell: “Two days after watching his party suffer key congressional losses and a too-close-for-comfort margin of victory in the governor’s race, Mayor Eric Adams renewed his call for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers to make another round of changes to the bail laws. Since taking office, the mayor has repeatedly sought to tie New York’s policies of bail reform to the city’s rising crime rate. But in the weeks leading up to the election, he stopped raising the issue and instead emphasized a more ‘holistic approach.’ On Thursday, Adams appeared to be back on message.”
— “40% of NYC Food Stamp Applicants Left Waiting for Benefits, Data Shows,” by City Limits’ David Brand
“Rikers Island correction officers arrested for sick leave abuse after long-running probe: sources,” by New York Daily News’ John Annese and Graham Rayman: “Three Rikers Island correction officers were arrested early Thursday stemming from a long-running investigation into sick leave abuse, sources familiar with the probe told the Daily News. Investigators with the Department of Investigation arrested the three officers and referred the cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Both DOI and the feds declined comment Thursday. A number of other officers were referred to DOC for internal discipline, two sources said. The DOC had been struggling with a massive number of officers out sick or not showing up at work through the height of the pandemic, but the problem continued well into 2021.”
— “NYC to invest $14.5 million to attack dirty streets,” by Gothamist’s Elizabeth Kim and Michelle Bocanegra
CITY HALL SCOOP — Former Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich, who resigned from his $243,171-a-year-job last week after being questioned by the Manhattan district attorney, insisted he was only stepping down to avoid creating a public drama for Mayor Eric Adams. “Although I have not been charged with any offenses, I realize that the recent controversies have created an unnecessary distraction for the Adams Administration. Therefore I tender my resignation as Commissioner of the Department of Buildings effective immediately,” Ulrich wrote in a brief email on Nov. 3 to Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi and her chief of staff, Jimmy Oddo. A copy of the missive was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Forty minutes earlier, Ulrich emailed Joshi, Oddo and City Hall attorney Brendan McGuire to reference the “media frenzy” in explaining why he planned to take off for a few days. He cc’d his attorneys Sam Braverman and Keith Sullivan, who are representing him in a case reportedly involving possible ties to organized crime and illegal gambling. An Adams spokesperson declined to say whether the mayor demanded Ulrich’s resignation. — Sally Goldenberg
Republicans had election successes in New York, but still can’t win statewide. Why they see a bright future, by POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney and Joseph Spector: Republicans in New York outperformed their colleagues in other states on Election Day, winning down ballot races for Congress and even making pickups in the state Legislature. But their streak continued: They couldn’t win a statewide contest. Now the question becomes whether Republican Lee Zeldin’s formidable run against Gov. Kathy Hochul — who struggled at the top of the ticket as a first-time gubernatorial candidate — is the closest Republicans can get to a statewide victory as the electoral map becomes even more Democratic.
— “Kathy Hochul beat Lee Zeldin, but the race was the closest in a generation. Why?” from Buffalo News’ Robert McCarthy
“An Initial Look at Voter Turnout in New York’s 2022 General Election,” by Gotham Gazette’s Ethan Geringer-Sameth: “Approximately 5.7 million New Yorkers across the state cast ballots in one of the closest races for governor in over two decades, according to unofficial 2022 election data. Some votes, especially final absentee ballots, are still being counted. That amounts to roughly 43% of New York’s 13.1 million registered voters, a lower turnout than in the 2018 gubernatorial election, when a surge of electoral enthusiasm driven by opposition to the Trump presidency and other factors pushed turnout to 48%.”
“Many in NYC’s Orthodox neighborhoods flipped for Zeldin as yeshiva school oversight strengthens,” by Gothamist’s Clayton Guse, Jake Offenhartz and Sophia Chang: “A flood of voters in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods broke from Gov. Kathy Hochul in Tuesday’s election — a move community leaders fear could embolden greater scrutiny from state officials over yeshiva schools after the incumbent held on in a tight race. More than 80% of voters in Borough Park — home to the city’s largest population of Orthodox Jews — voted for Rep. Lee Zeldin, preliminary election data shows.”
“Zeldin Threat Passed, Criminal Justice Reformers Ready to Push Hochul,” by THE CITY’s Reuven Blau: “After months of largely staying quiet during the unexpectedly competitive governor’s race, not wanting to give fuel to her right-wing opponent, criminal justice reformers are now looking to push Gov. Kathy Hochul on a series of issues. Those include plans to press Hochul to support stalled legislation to ease parole release restrictions for elderly people behind bars based on individualized assessments and to streamline the sealing of criminal records that frequently make it difficult for individuals to move on with their lives, advocates and policy experts told THE CITY.”
#UpstateAmerica: Twin elephants were born at the Syracuse zoo, and that’s very rare.
Williams maintains lead in Central New York House race as Conole awaits absentees, by POLITICO’s Marie J. French: Republican Brandon Williams, a political newcomer from Texas who beat out an establishment-backed candidate in the primary, holds a sizable lead in a competitive House race in the Syracuse area. Williams is ahead of Democrat Francis Conole by 3,925 votes in the 22nd District, or 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent, according to unofficial results. Conole has not conceded and is hoping for a boost from outstanding absentees and provisional ballots. The race was one of more than two dozen House contests across the nation that were deemed toss ups.
“NY House seat flipper Mike Lawler says it’s time for GOP to ditch Trump,” by New York Post’s Carl Campanile: “The face of a red mini-wave in New York on Election Day says it’s time for the Republican Party to ditch former President Donald Trump and back another candidate for the White House in 2024. ‘I would certainly like to see the party move forward. There are a lot of rising stars,’ Congressman-elect Mike Lawler — who rocked the political world by defeating Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman — told The Post Thursday.”
“A Powerful N.Y. Democrat Was a Shoo-In for Re-election. What Happened?” by The New York Times’ Ginia Bellafante: “This summer during the run-up to the Democratic primaries, when Sean Patrick Maloney was campaigning to keep the congressional seat he has held in the Hudson Valley for a decade, New York City’s Police Benevolent Association had his back. The largest municipal police union in the country spent hundreds of thousands of dollars targeting his opponent, Alessandra Biaggi, a progressive state senator whom it described as ‘a radical anti-police extremist.’ In advance of the general election it was Mr. Maloney, chair of the powerful Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who was cast, however improbably, as a demon to public safety.”
— “Swing Voters Rejected Far-Right Candidates. But Not So Much in New York,” by The New York Times’ Michael Gold
“Meet the next Jewish Republican congressman from Long Island,” by Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel: “In his second consecutive bid for a New York congressional seat, George Santos made history on Tuesday, winning a competitive race that will make him the first openly gay representative from Long Island elected to serve in the House. The newly minted congressman-elect can also claim another unique distinction: Santos, 34, will be the only Jewish Republican member of New York’s House delegation when he is sworn in this January.”
“Note on Trump’s personal ledger was ‘deleted’ before copy sent to grand jury, Trump Organization executive says,” by CBS News’ Graham Kates: “A note on Donald Trump’s personal ledger was removed before his company turned over a copy to a grand jury investigating the Trump Organization for fraud, a company executive acknowledged in court Thursday. The revelation came during the third day of sworn testimony by Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, whose appearance in the company’s New York criminal fraud trial was stalled for more than a week after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 1. McConney was shown a page of Trump’s 2012 ledger — an accounting of expenses paid from Trump’s personal coffers — provided to prosecutors by accounting firm Mazars USA.”
— The Department of Transportation is considering making Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza car-free.
— The Greenpoint NYC Ferry stop will reopen next week after being shut down for more than a year.
— Manhattan politiciansare pushing Mayor Eric Adams to again close streets around Rockefeller Center to traffic for the holidays.
— Remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole are expected to drench New York City Friday and Saturday.
— Twitter locked out an account that reports cars for abusing parking placards.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) … POLITICO’s Matt Kaminski … NYT’s Ruth Igielnik … Rebecca Sharer of Sunshine Sachs … Jon Hartley … Anya Firestone … Anne Rabe, environmental policy director for the NY Public Interest Research Group … Gregory Mitchell, associate at RG Group, is 3-0 (h/t Alan Rosenberg)
MEDIAWATCH — Chris Bragg is joining the Buffalo News. He has been a reporter for the Albany Times Union.
MAKING MOVES — Jennifer Jones Austin has been named a visiting scholar at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. She is the CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.
“Building Permits Soared Before Developer Tax Break Expired, New Numbers Show,” by The City’s Greg David: “Newly released numbers show New York City real estate developers filed for a record number of building permits in the first half of 2022, as they rushed to qualify future projects for a lucrative tax abatement that expired in June. The surge could provide a pipeline of apartments while supporters and opponents maneuver in Albany over whether to replace the tax break, known as 421-a. But some industry players warn that rising interest rates could mean many projects will never materialize. Data posted Thursday by the Department of City Planning shows developers filed permits for 58,623 units in the first six months of the year.”
“Rats, Roaches, Leaks: Rent-Stabilized Building Owners Whose Bets Went Sour Delay Repairs,” by NYS Focus’ Olivia Bensimon: “1225 Sheridan and its neighbors, 1221 and 1231 Sheridan, are owned by a limited liability company called Sheridan Realty Holdings LLC, which bought them in 2016 — during a boom market. Three years later, a new state law firmly limited how much landlords like Sheridan Realty Holdings can increase rent. Landlords who bought buildings as property values climbed steeply in the first two decades of the century now face the risk that their speculative investments will not pay off. And since they can’t hike rents, basic maintenance is often the first thing to go.”