Incumbents in the Assembly just keep falling to progressive challengers. A big target was toppled when Assemblymember Joe Lentol in Brooklyn conceded to Emily Gallagher, ending an Assembly career that has stretched nearly five decades.
Gallagher, an activist who has served on her community board, had trailed Lentol by more than 15 points at the ballot box on primary day, but made up enough ground in absentee ballots to take the win. As our Bill Mahoney reports, it’s difficult to overstate the magnitude of Gallagher’s victory. Lentol, as chair of the powerful Codes Committee, is the highest-ranking Assembly Democrat to be ousted at the voting booth in decades. His family has held the seat for three generations, since his grandfather won it in 1918. Unlike many of the ousted incumbents, his liberal credentials were rarely questioned, and Gallagher pulled off the upset without institutional support from groups like the Working Families Party and Democratic Socialists of America.
And the hits keep coming. DSA-backed housing organizer Zohran Mamdani has defeated Assemblymember Aravella Simotas by a margin of a few hundred votes in Queens. Hours after Lentol threw in the towel, Simotas conceded defeat in her Astoria district. “Socialism won,” Mamdani said in a victory tweet.
That’s just one day’s worth of upsets, as vote counts continue to trickle in after a pandemic-disrupted primary. Assemblymember Felix Ortiz in Brooklyn was defeated by Democratic socialist Marcela Mitaynes, Michael DenDekker of Queens lost to challenger Jessica González-Rojas, and Michael Miller appears to have lost to Jenifer Rajkumar. If the results all hold, at least six Assemblymembers based in the New York City area will have fallen to those on their left.
WHERE’S ANDREW? No available public schedule by press time.
WHERE’S BILL? Holding a media availability.
“POLICE OFFICERS in riot gear cleared out the ‘Occupy City Hall’ encampment in City Hall Park near dawn on Wednesday, shutting down a monthlong demonstration against police brutality that recently had attracted numerous homeless people. A phalanx of officers in helmets started closing in on dozens of protesters and homeless people shortly before 4 a.m., moving in lock-step behind a wall of plastic shields, according to protesters and videos posted on social media. Seven people were arrested after sporadic clashes erupted between officers and residents of the camp, officials said. One protester was taken into custody after the police said he threw a brick at an officer. As the police moved through the camp, officers took down a series of tarps and makeshift tents that demonstrators and several homeless people had been living in for weeks and tossed them into city garbage trucks … Speaking to reporters later on Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the decision to shut down the camp had been made around 10 p.m. on Tuesday because of ‘health and safety.’” New York Times’ Alan Feuer and Juliana Kim
— A police officer seen on video punching a homeless man on the subway will not be stripped of his gun and badge, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday. After reviewing the video, Shea said the cop would not be placed on modified duty — a measure taken against some officers accused of misconduct while their cases are investigated, where they are removed from patrol and put on desk duty. He said the NYPD will consider whether the officer needs additional training. POLITICO’s Erin Durkin
— ACROSS THE WAY: The family of a Black man from Poughkeepsie fatally shot by a New Jersey State Trooper still doesn’t have a clear picture of what happened that day, while he was having a mental health crisis, their lawyer said.
MARKETING NEW YORK City’s tourist attractions for “staycations.” Suspending enforcement of open-container laws near outdoor restaurants and bars. Merging struggling yellow taxis and for-hire vehicles into a new industry. At a time of profound crisis, a panel of civic-minded New Yorkers, convened by City Hall, mapped out a 24-page blueprint to jumpstart a local economy flattened by the coronavirus pandemic. From arts and culture to municipal contracting regulations, the proposals — which have never been made public and were obtained by POLITICO — chart a path for industries struggling to regain their footing. Instead of serving as a game plan for the city’s recovery, the report was shelved in April — the latest casualty of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s long-held antipathy toward well-heeled private sector interests. The change in direction followed concerns raised by City Hall officials that the panel was “terrifyingly monolithic” — too white and too pro-business, according to an administration official familiar with the matter. So de Blasio established a more diverse recovery task force, which has yet to produce any formal recommendations. POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg
“FROM THE TOP of the Empire State Building to the foot of the Statue of Liberty, New York City tourist attractions are reopening, and operators are counting on city residents to keep the flailing industry alive. Tourism, a cornerstone of the New York City economy, is virtually nonexistent this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. International travelers are still largely barred from entering the country, visitors from 31 U.S. states are required to quarantine for two weeks after entering New York, and many tourist draws — from Broadway to indoor dining — remain closed. Between the restrictions and uncertainty over coronavirus resurgences, the city’s official tourism arm doesn’t have much to work with. NYC & Company, a private organization that holds a $20 million marketing contract with the city, sees restoring New Yorkers’ confidence in visiting local attractions as the first step in rebuilding the tourism industry, said Chief Executive Fred Dixon. ‘We went through some really terrible weeks and months this spring,’ he said. ‘Getting New Yorkers out to re-engage with their local community has been priority No. 1.’” Wall Street Journal’s Kate King
“THE MTA is losing $200 million per week amid a once-in-a-century ‘fiscal tsunami’ brought on by the coronavirus, agency boss Pat Foye said Wednesday. “We are in the midst of a once-in-100-years fiscal tsunami,” Foye said at the start of the transit agency’s July board meeting. “The MTA has faced challenges before, but the pandemic challenge and its impact on our finances is far more severe than any questions we’ve faced before,” Foye said. Transit ridership has plummeted since COVID-19 struck New York in March, to just 2.2 million trips per day compared to over 7 million pre-pandemic, according to MTA stats. The combination of reduced ridership and pandemic-depleted tax revenues will leave the MTA with a $14.3 billion shortfall through the end of 2021, MTA chief financial officer Bob Foran told board members.” New York Post’s David Meyer
“IT’S BEEN almost three months since Mayor Bill de Blasio started his Open Streets plan to give pedestrians and cyclists room to maintain proper social distancing while getting much-needed exercise. The city has now opened over 67 miles of streets — short of its goal of 100 miles, but still the most in the country. This month, de Blasio also launched a popular Open Restaurants plan to dedicate certain open streets to struggling businesses so they can safely reopen outdoors. But a new report from Transportation Alternatives argues that the Open Streets plan ‘lacks vision and ambition,’ and falls far short of the city’s recovery and transportation needs.” Gothamist’s Ben Yakas
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Sandy Nurse is throwing her hat in the ring — again — for a City Council seat in Brooklyn formerly held by Rafael Espinal. The seat will be empty for nearly a year due to a complicated series of pandemic-era twists: After Espinal stepped down in January, Nurse, a community organizer, and Democratic district leader Darma Diaz were among the contenders in an expected special election in the Bushwick and East New York district. But the special election was called off due to the pandemic, and Diaz was the only contender to make the ballot for a Democratic primary on June 23, making her the nominee by default. She’s expected to win a general election in November and take office in January. Nurse plans to launch her campaign today to challenge Diaz in a primary next June, the winner of which will serve a full term. “I saw how establishment politicians will use the worst crisis to sustain their power, even at the cost of people’s health and well-being. I am ready and prepared to take on the Brooklyn Democratic machine, and this time they will not be able to stop our grassroots movement,” Nurse said. She enters the race with the endorsement of New York Communities for Change.
“STATE LAWMAKERS have been moving this week to do everything from clawing back some civil and criminal liability protections they gave to health facilities during the Covid-19 peak in New York to declaring high-speed internet access to be a ‘fundamental right.’ Deals coming together include: Tightening what critics say have been loopholes used by developers in Buffalo and elsewhere to gain access to lucrative tax breaks in ways the original state law never intended. Requiring state telecommunications regulators to examine why broadband access is still so spotty and expensive in many areas of the state. Providing low-income New Yorkers with a way to stretch out fines for traffic infractions rather than losing their license for not immediately paying the state. Final approval was given Wednesday to legislation prohibiting schools from using facial recognition software — a bill that would force Lockport schools to turn off its cameras.” Buffalo News’ Tom Precious
— Lawmakers have reached a deal on a new bill, sparked by a Newsday investigation, targeting real estate discrimination by allowing the state to suspend or revoke agents’ licenses.
— Environmental advocates celebrated a few legislative victories this week while they mourned the big-ticket measures derailed as attention turned to a budget shortfall and the local impacts of a global pandemic. Lawmakers approved a stricter ban on any waste produced during hydraulic fracturing, a prohibition on most uses of the carcinogen trichloroethylene, or TCE, and expanded protections for streams no longer regulated by the federal government. POLITICO’s Marie J. French
— New York health care providers and facilities that don’t treat Covid-19 patients would no longer be shielded from legal liability under legislation that’s poised to move in the Senate and Assembly this week. The bill, NY A10840 (19R)/NY S8835 (19R), which is expected to go before Senate and Assembly lawmakers Thursday, seeks to partially roll back the broad blanket immunity granted to health care workers and facilities as part of the budget passed at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak this spring. POLITICO’s Shannon Young
“THE ‘CUOMO CHIPS’ don’t cut it. Aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed course Wednesday and ruled that pubs and restaurants can’t just sell potato chips with alcoholic drinks as a way to comply with a new order that bars the sale of booze without food during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s another blow to and hurdle for bars and eateries with liquor licenses trying to survive during the COVID-19 crisis. The edict comes after an upstate pub cheekily mocked the booze-only sales ban by adding a $1 bag of ‘Cuomo Chips’ to the bills of all patrons.” New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan and Carl Campanile
— Erie County employees checking if bars and restaurants are following social-distancing and mask-wearing mandates have encountered some hostile patrons, in some cases they’ve had to bring sheriffs with them.
— BLAME FOR NURSING HOME DEATHS: “Republicans in Washington and elsewhere have attacked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his role in, and response to, those deaths; Mr. Cuomo has returned fire, accusing his foes of politicizing a human tragedy and arguing that the blame for the number of deaths lay with infected health care workers, not his own policies. The death toll — a figure that surpasses that of many states — has also inspired questions from Mr. Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, who rule the State Legislature and have scheduled hearings on the issue next month.” New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferré-Sadurní
“GOV. ANDREW CUOMO said Wednesday that he and President Trump spoke a day earlier about the shooting surge plaguing the Big Apple — and they came to an agreement that the deployment of federal authorities is not necessary to curb the crime spike. ‘I spoke to the president yesterday. The president had suggested that he was considering sending federal agents to New York, among other cities New York City, to deal with what he saw as an increase-in-crime problem,’ Cuomo told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
“‘I spoke to the president about it, said I was also concerned about the increase in crime in New York City and that people in New York City are also concerned about the increase in crime. I also said that at this point, I think that the situation can be managed by the state.’ On Monday, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that Cuomo must squash the rising gun violence New York City — or he will send in federal authorities to restore order… Cuomo said that Trump promised he would talk to him first if he was preparing to take any action regarding the deployment of federal law enforcement in the Big Apple.” New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan and Natalie Musumeci
“LESS THAN 200 words into the Constitution, before any mention of the president, the Supreme Court, or freedom of speech, comes the instruction to count everyone living in the United States. The specifics are calamitously racist, since the text pointedly excludes ‘Indians not taxed’ and calculates slaves as ‘three-fifths of all other persons,’ a reckoning that helped prepare the way for the Civil War… More than halfway through the year, we find ourselves in a census emergency. A collision of circumstances threatens to throw off the count, and while inaccuracy can damage the nation, it poses a special danger to New York.” New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson
— Only 53 percent of New York City households have filled out the census so far.
“NEW YORK LAWMAKERS are giving ICE the cold shoulder. The state Legislature approved a measure Wednesday that bars Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from making civil arrests in and around state courthouses without a judicial warrant or a court order. Supporters said the legislation, known as the Protect Our Courts Act, is a response to a reported uptick in courthouse arrests of undocumented immigrants since President Trump took office.” New York Daily News’ Denis Slattery
“THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION denied on Wednesday that it had returned Michael D. Cohen to prison in retaliation for his decision to publish a jailhouse tell-all book about his former boss, the president. The government said in newly filed court papers that the decision to send Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, back to prison earlier this month after he had been released on furlough was made by a federal Bureau of Prisons employee. That employee had no idea that Mr. Cohen was writing a memoir, the papers said. Instead, Mr. Cohen endangered his own freedom by becoming ‘combative’ when refusing to sign an agreement outlining the terms of his release, the government said.” New York Times’ Benjamin Weiser and Alan Feuer
THE HEAD of the Congressional Black Caucus said there is nothing stopping incoming members who identify as both African American and Latino from joining the Black and Hispanic caucuses — an issue that’s flared up recently as a younger candidate challenged the perceived status quo. The comments, from CBC Chair Karen Bass on Wednesday, come after Democratic candidate Ritchie Torres blasted the group in an op-ed over the weekend for seemingly denying membership to lawmakers who identify as both Black and Latino. POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López and Heather Caygle
REP. TED YOHO on Wednesday apologized for aggressively confronting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the Capitol earlier this week, but denied he used profanity to address the congresswoman. “I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York. It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful,” Yoho said in a rare floor speech to address a personal matter with another lawmaker. The retiring Florida Republican had come under scrutiny for reportedly confronting the New York Democrat on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, when he berated her for comments she’d made about how poverty and joblessness have contributed to rising crime in New York City. Ocasio-Cortez later said the apology was inadequate, noting that Yoho was deflecting the blame and refusing to apologize for what he said to her. POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris
— More than 30 child sexual abuse complaints were filed Wednesday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
— A federal judge granted an injunction against a law requiring permits to protest in Glens Falls.
— “The rapidly expanding list of states on New York and New Jersey’s two-week quarantine has become another pressing headache for local colleges heading into the fall semester.”
— Among tipped restaurant workers in New York, a report found Black women earn $8 an hour less than white men.
— A Long Island man misspelled a crucial agency name while forging his own death certificate, tipping off prosecutors.
— Some parents have growing concerns about Prospect Park Lake’s duckweed problem — and the risk it poses to drowning or sickening small children.
— “Two unlicensed bounty hunters were arrested Tuesday in Astoria after deputy sheriffs patrolling Steinway Street discovered an arsenal of illegal weapons in their possession.”
— A man was crushed by falling debris from the facade of a Crown Heights building, leaving him with a fractured skull and other injuries.
— Three members of the Hells Angels have been charged with killing the head of a rival Bronx motorcycle gang.
— A Queens couple was caught trying to sell stools made out of elephant feet.
— GOVERNORS ISLAND: “How This N.Y. Island Went From Tourist Hot Spot to Emergency Garden,” from NYT
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Stephanie Grisham, COS and spokesperson for first lady Melania Trump … Joey Rault … Edelman’s Courtney Gray Haupt ... Monica Lewinsky … CNN PR manager Liza Pluto … The Economist’s Lane Greene … David Brock, author and founder of Media Matters for America and American Bridge 21st Century … Kat Borgerding … Josh Gross, SVP at Glover Park Group … former Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) is 72 … Alex Pareene … NYT’s Sam Barnes … WaPo’s Perry Stein
MEDIAWATCH — “The New York Times Co. Names Meredith Kopit Levien as Chief Executive,” by NYT’s Edmund Lee
— Per Talking Biz News: “Jack Newsham has joined Business Insider as its new senior legal industry reporter covering Big Law and other businesses in the legal industry.”
SURREAL ESTATE … WSJ: “CNN Chief Jeff Zucker is Selling His Manhattan Home,” by Katherine Clark
“IF THE OUTBREAK roars back in New York City, Anil and Joyce Lilly will not be sheltering again in their Bronx apartment. They just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley. ‘We need more elbow room,’ said Joyce Lilly, explaining their move to Washingtonville, New York. ‘Because we were locked into the apartment for three months, a solid three months, I feel like I’m getting out of prison and I want to run as far away as possible.’ New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home.” Associated Press’s Michael Hill