Amid a raging debate over school budget cuts by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, progressive City Council members have been apologizing for their votes to pass a city spending plan that greenlit them. Well, they just might get a do-over.
A Manhattan judge said Thursday he expects to throw out the city’s school budget, and give the City Council a chance to vote again. The $37.6 billion Department of Education budget would go back to lawmakers for another vote after a group of parents and teachers sued to stop at least $215 million in cuts to individual schools’ budgets, imposed by the Adams administration because of drops in enrollment.
At issue is whether a sharp drop in the number of students attending city public schools since the onset of the pandemic should translate into less cash for each school to hire teachers, buy supplies and so on. Parents, teachers and politicians on the left have been raging against the budget slash, arguing that pandemic-battered schools badly need the money. The administration maintains that it’s only sensible that fewer students would translate into fewer dollars, and that the city doesn’t have an endless supply of federal stimulus cash to go around.
At more technical issue is whether the city violated procedural rules by using an emergency declaration to avoid a vote by an educational panel before the budget went to the City Council for approval. That sort of thing happens all the time, but now that it’s being challenged in court, Judge Lyle Frank said the arrangement doesn’t pass muster in the absence of a true emergency.
The logistics of how this will all play out are quite murky, but it raises the specter of a new budget showdown between Adams and his foes even as students head back to school next month. The Council could potentially vote again to allow the cuts, reject the budget, or come to a deal with the administration. A formal ruling from the judge is expected today.
WHERE’S KATHY? In Albany with no public events scheduled.
WHERE’S ERIC? Hosting a Summer Youth Employment Program student cooking demo at Gracie Mansion, touring an overdose prevention center and meeting with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan.
‘Bizarre and uncomfortable’: Adams wants photos of city job applicants, by POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg: Eric Adams is building his own Facebook. The New York mayor has instructed city agencies to present him with photographs of potential hires as City Hall reviews candidates for jobs ranging from assistant commissioner to departmental press secretary. The move — which aides say will help the mayor recognize his employees in a workforce of some 330,000, and several city officials contend is entirely a diversity push — comes as Adams’ team struggles to fill an unusually high number of vacancies.
“NYC plans to end school-based COVID testing program this fall, source says,” by Chalkbeat’s Alex Zimmerman: “New York City is planning to end its program to administer weekly coronavirus tests to a random sample of students, Chalkbeat has learned, removing one of the last standing campus COVID safety measures. The decision to discontinue on-site PCR testing after summer school ends was communicated internally last month, a source with knowledge of the program said. ‘The city decided it was no longer necessary,’ the source said, noting that a specific rationale wasn’t provided. Chalkbeat also reviewed communications that suggest the program is ending. A City Hall spokesperson denied that the city’s plans for the fall have been finalized, but did not directly dispute that the city is moving away from in-school PCR testing.”
How Adams’ pals — and a favorite dining spot — link him to one of the state’s top tax delinquents, by POLITICO’s Joe Anuta: A restaurateur with deep ties to two of Mayor Eric Adams’ close friends — and a connection to one of his favorite midtown haunts — is among the state’s top tax delinquents with an outstanding tab of more than $1 million. An extensive review of previous reports and public records has found a network of restaurants — including the haute Osteria La Baia, where the mayor can often be found holding court — owned by either tax-tardy Brooklyn attorney Akiva Ofshtein or a New York restaurateur named Marianna Shahmuradyan. Tying them together are twin brothers Robert and Zhan “Johnny” Petrosyants — two of the mayor’s close pals. Ofshtein has hired the Petrosyants brothers to manage eateries that ran up significant tax debt. And Shahmuradyan, who owns La Baia, is romantically linked with Robert Petrosyants. The connections demonstrate the mayor’s enduring friendship with the brothers, who ran afoul of federal law a decade ago and have since been involved in culinary ventures that deprived the government of tax revenue.
“Congestion pricing’s next obstacle? The exemption debate,” by City & State’s Annie McDonough: “After years of moving at a tired crawl, New York’s congestion pricing program is finally picking up speed. A draft of the environmental assessment for the road tolling program in Manhattan below 60th Street is expected to be released this week, and the six members of the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which will recommend the specifics of the fee structure, have all been named. They included five business and real estate leaders approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, and Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen, who was named to the board by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.”
“Comptroller: At least half of NYC cooling centers were listed as closed during weekend of July heatwave,” by Gothamist’s Elizabeth Kim: “Hundreds of air-conditioned facilities designated as emergency cooling centers during dangerously hot weather were closed for two days during last month’s heat wave, according to a new report from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. During the extended heat wave from July 19th through July 25th, the city directed residents to its map of cooling centers, which mostly consist of public libraries, community and senior centers, and NYCHA facilities. But suggesting a lack of planning and possibly staffing, the comptroller’s office found that half of the facilities were listed as closed on Saturday, while more than 80% were closed on Sundays.”
“Poliovirus found in Orange County wastewater,” by Times Union’s Rachel Silberstein: “Traces of the poliovirus have been found in two more New York wastewater sites, indicating that the virus has spread beyond Rockland County, where the first case the U.S. has seen in a decade was identified last month. The state Department of Health’s wastewater testing program flagged polio in wastewater sampled in June and July in two locations in Orange County, county health officials announced Tuesday afternoon. ‘There have been no confirmed cases of polio infection identified to date in Orange County, but the virus is circulating in the community according to recent wastewater analysis reports,’ county health officials wrote in a social media post.”
—“New York May Face ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ With Polio, Health Chief Says,” by The New York Times’ Ed Shanahan.
“Gov. Hochul says bail reform critics are pushing a ‘political slogan,’” by WNYC’s Jon Campbell, Samantha Max and Matt Katz: “Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday said those who blame a recent rise in crime on changes to the state’s cash bail laws in 2019 are pushing a ‘political slogan’ rather than looking for real answers. The Democratic governor’s comments came a day after New York City Mayor Eric Adams and top NYPD officials held a news conference urging Albany policymakers to give judges more discretion to hold defendants on bail before their trial. That would undo a key tenet of the 2019 reforms. Despite their apparent disagreement on the bail laws — with Adams calling the state’s current criminal justice system ‘insane’— Hochul insisted she and the mayor are more aligned on the issue of crime than the media suggests. She pointedly suggested that some people are politicizing the issue of bail reform for their own purposes, but did not name any names.”
—Rep. Nicole Malliotakis introduced a bill that would allow crime victims to sue the state over offenses committed by people released without bail.
“As police plan to check social media on gun permit applicants, critics worry about bias,” by WNYC’s Samantha Max: “A new state law requires everyone who applies for a gun license in New York to turn over their social media handles for a background check. The goal is to find signs of potential violence before people have the chance to pull a trigger. But as law enforcement agencies adjust their policies to comply with the additional requirements, some worry the legislation could have unintended consequences. A researcher who studies the intersection of social media and gun violence argues the measure could disproportionately affect people of color, while civil rights advocates call it ‘invasive’ and say it could violate First Amendment rights.”
“Redistricting judge closes NY’s party change loophole — Aug. 11 is the new deadline,” by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin: “The electoral experiment that would have allowed voters to register with a new party up until and including Primary Day has ended before it ever began. The deadline to switch parties ahead of the upcoming primary is now August 11th, two days before the start of early voting. That’s according to a new decision issued Thursday by Acting Justice Patrick McAllister in State Supreme Court in Steuben County. Party change requests received on or after August 12 will not be valid until August 30 — seven days after the August 23rd primary election for congressional and state Senate districts.”
“Hochul, NY10 candidates blast House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during NYC visit,” by PoliticsNY’s Ethan Stark-Miller: “Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was met with an icy reception from Democratic lawmakers during a visit to the solidly blue Big Apple Thursday. The House’s top Republican came to the city that never sleeps to hold a roundtable conversation with local GOP lawmakers and members of law enforcement on criminal justice policies and elected officials they see as ‘soft on crime,’ which they say is responsible for the city’s current crime wave. They include the state legislature’s 2019 reforms to New York’s cash bail system, the election of progressive prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and calls for cutting police department budgets — often referred to as ‘defund the police.’”
“Absentee Ballot Programs Could Be ‘Single Most Important Factor’ in High-Profile NY-10 and NY-12 Congressional Races,” by Gotham Gazette’s Samar Khurshid: “There are less than three weeks until primary day, August 23, and the deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot is Monday, August 8. In New York’s 10th and 12th congressional districts, where there are heated Democratic primary contests underway, absentee ballots may play a particularly significant role under the peculiar circumstances of the election. ‘Absentee ballot organizing is likely to be the single most important factor in determining the winner of these races,’ Neal Kwatra, founder of Metropolitan Public Strategies, told Gotham Gazette. ‘It’s of paramount importance in both races.’”
“Dan Goldman leads internal poll for 10th Congressional District, with Yuh-Line Niou and Carlina Rivera close behind,” by City & State’s Jeff Coltin: “An internal poll from Dan Goldman’s campaign showed a tight matchup at the top of the 10th Congressional District, with the former House impeachment counsel getting 18% of likely Democratic primary voters’ support, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou with 16% and New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera with 14%. Following them was Rep. Mondaire Jones at 10%, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman at 9% and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon at 7%. The race is still wide open though, as another 18% of voters remained undecided ahead of the Aug. 23 primary.”
“In a House Race With Big Names, 2 Women With Local Ties Rise,” by The New York Times’ Dana Rubinstein: “Two months ago, the megawatt contest for a rare open House seat in New York City seemed destined to be shaped by one of a handful of nationally known candidates. There was the former New York City mayor, an ex-congresswoman, a former federal prosecutor who helped impeach Donald J. Trump, and even a sitting congressman from the exurbs. But with the Aug. 23 primary less than three weeks away, the contours of the race have been redefined. Two women with local bona fides but little national stature have surged toward the front of the pack, upending early conventional wisdom and scrambling the race. In recent public and internal polling for the Democratic primary, Carlina Rivera, a councilwoman from Manhattan, and Yuh-Line Niou, a Manhattan assemblywoman, are running neck-and-neck with the two well-resourced men considered heavyweights: Representative Mondaire Jones, a recent transplant to the district, and Daniel Goldman, the impeachment investigator, who has never held elective office.”
“House Democrat Maloney Apologizes to Biden for Saying He Won’t Run in 2024,” by Bloomberg’s Marie-Rose Sheinerman: “US Representative Carolyn Maloney apologized to US President Joe Biden on Thursday for saying that she didn’t ‘believe’ he would seek re-election, but the New York Democrat stood by her prediction that he wouldn’t run in 2024. ‘Mr. President, I apologize. I want you to run. I happen to think you won’t be running, but when you run or if you run, I will be there 100%,’ she said on CNN on Thursday. ‘You are a great president and thank you for everything you’ve done.’”
—The NYPD is on track to spend more on lawsuit payouts this year than any year in recent history.
— The city named a new NYPD inspector general.
—State police have seized more than twice as many firearms this year as last year.
— An expanded car-free Summer Streets program kicks off on Saturday.
—A program is training people with a history of substance abuse to be peer advocates in city public hospitals.
— A Brooklyn pizza shop owner was hit in the head with an Aaron Judge home run ball.
— Mayor Eric Adamsacknowledged he can’t do much about a delay in monkeypox vaccine supply.
— Brooklyn Democrats nominated 12 candidates to run for New York Supreme Court justice in November.
— New York college students may be at higher risk of monkeypox as classes return on densely populated campuses this fall.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: A.G. Sulzberger … Planned Parenthood’s Alexis McGill Johnson … Matt Anderson of Blackstone … Alicia Amling of Temerity Capital Partners … Pete Snyder … Lila Cohn … Fenton’s Donte Donald
MEDIAWATCH — Stephen Rex Brownis joining WNYC as NYC Accountability Editor. He was previously Metro editor at the New York Daily News.
MAKING MOVES — Meaghan Byrne is now a policy adviser for Pat Ryan’s New York congressional campaign. She is a former legislative fellow for Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)… Elizabeth Hillmanhas been named president and chief executive of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. She was formerly president of Mills College.
HOT JOB — Risa Heller Communications is seeking a senior associate.
Port Authority pushes ahead on massive overhaul of bus terminal, by POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio Dunn: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has selected two architecture firms to realize its vision for a brand new bus terminal, moving forward on a multibillion dollar construction initiative that will dramatically change Manhattan’s west side. The bistate agency has selected the firms Foster + Partners and Epstein and Sons International to handle the development that’s expected to span eight years and cost up to $10 billion.
“NYC Mayor Adams unveils Far Rockaway’s affordable housing facelift that took years in the making,” by New York Daily News’ Michael Gartland: “Mayor Adams announced the completion of more than 200 affordable apartments in Far Rockaway on Thursday — the culmination of almost a decade of planning and politicking aimed at improving what’s historically been one of the city’s most ignored neighborhoods. The most recent redevelopment in the area’s downtown section — which now includes a modern apartment building replete with solar panels, a tree-lined plaza and sewer drains designed to better absorb storm waters — cost the city about $234 million and was completed four years ahead of schedule.”