Adams’ wins and losses on school cuts, retiree health care

As New York City Mayor Eric Adams presses forward with a new effort to tighten the city’s purse strings, cutbacks he has imposed since taking office have been caught up in the courts. He got mixed news on that front Tuesday, with one court allowing his cuts to schools budgets to proceed, while another blocked an effort to rein in health care costs.

An appeals court cleared the way for more than $370 million in cuts to individual schools’ budgets despite agreeing with a lower court that the cuts were enacted illegally. In August, a state judge in an unprecedented order sent the city budget back to the City Council for a revote, saying the city broke the law by using an emergency declaration to push the cuts through.

The higher court delivered a split decision: Yes, the procedural maneuvering was illegal but they’re going to let the results stay in place anyway, and won’t require a new vote by the City Council, where members have come to regret signing off on the funding reductions. A ruling reasoned that going back to the drawing board months into the school year would be too disruptive to students, teachers and the Department of Education alike. So Adams wins this one.

In another fiscal battle, an appeals court struck down an effort by the city to save on health care for retired city workers, upholding a previous ruling blocking the plan. Adams, picking up on a de Blasio administration push, is trying to shift retirees onto a privatized Medicare plan, potentially saving the city $600 million a year. While public sector unions support the plan, retired city workers sued to stop it, saying it would leave them with lower-quality health care. The courts so far have agreed.

To move forward, the administration may need legislation from the City Council — but the Council is showing little appetite to jump into a dispute pitting influential unions against retired city workers.

IT’S WEDNESDAY and we made it to the holiday season. Rest up and enjoy your long weekend. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know … By email: [email protected] and [email protected], or on Twitter: @erinmdurkin and @annagronewold

WHERE’S KATHY? In Albany with no public events scheduled.

WHERE’S ERIC? Making a Thanksgiving Day Parade safety-related announcement.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be off for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday but back to our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 28.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I am the leader of the state party. That would be me.” — Gov. Kathy Hochul, when asked the ideal qualities for a state Democratic party leader amid questions over continued tenure of Jay Jacobs

Assemblyman Al Taylor joins primary against Kristin Richardson Jordan for Harlem Council seat,” by amNewYork’s Aidan Graham: “Upper Manhattan Assemblyman Al Taylor announced his bid for City Council District 9 on Tuesday, which set up a dramatic showdown between him and the incumbent legislator, Kristin Richardson Jordan. The seat, which was won by Jordan in 2021, a Democrat, covers the Central Harlem area of Manhattan, and will now host one of the most hotly-contested races in New York City politics. The Democratic Primary will also feature Yusef Salaam, of the ‘Exonerated 5’ — an individual falsely accused of rape in what was once called the ‘Central Park 5’ case — and state Senator Inez Dickens.”

Saratoga operator, Oklahoma tribe team up for Coney Island casino proposal, by POLITICO’s Joe Spector: Visitors to Coney Island may soon be able to ride its fabled Cyclone roller coaster — then let it ride on gaming tables. A partnership among Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, entertainment-management company Legends and developer Thor Equities announced on Tuesday that it’s proposing a casino for the seaside Brooklyn tourist destination. The consortium said it would invest $3 billion into the proposal, which would create 2,500 construction jobs. It didn’t detail the extent of its casino plans. … The plan is sure to face stiff competition when the state begins accepting bids for just three coveted casino licenses in the New York City area — the nation’s largest untapped gambling market.

Adams says city’s ‘financial trouble’ forced budget cuts, by POLITICO’s Erin Durkin: Mayor Eric Adams blamed the city’s ongoing financial woes on Tuesday for his latest round of fiscal belt-tightening. “These are real difficult days. I don’t know if people really realize that,” he said at an unrelated press conference, responding to questions about a POLITICO report Monday that he’d ordered city agencies to slash half of their vacant jobs. “We are in financial trouble, and the country’s in financial trouble, and I have to be financially prudent to make these smart decisions.”

Adams on $241K NYPD Post for Close Friend: ‘You’ve Got to Get the Best People for the Job,’” by The City’s Yoav Gonen and Katie Honan: “Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday said he rented a room in a Brooklyn apartment from a longtime associate and friend — a long-time 911 dispatcher who was appointed this year to one of the top-paying jobs in city government — out of safety concerns he had at the time about living in a nearby townhouse he owned. THE CITY reported Monday that the NYPD appointed Lisa White in May as deputy commissioner of employee relations, with a $241,000 salary — and that from 2013 to 2017, Adams shared her address in a three-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights.”

Busy stretch of NYC’s 5th Avenue to go car-free on 3 Sundays as holiday crowds return,” by WNYC’s Stephen Nessen: “A stretch of Fifth Avenue in Midtown will close to traffic on three Sundays in December in an effort to create more pedestrian space during the busy holiday shopping and tourist season. Cars will be banned along the thoroughfare between 49th and 57th streets from noon to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, and will continue on Dec. 11 and 18. As the city’s Department of Transportation has done in previous years, it will place movable barriers on streets around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.”

Black mayors are leading the nation’s biggest cities for the first time, by POLITICO’s Brakkton Booker: When Karen Bass is sworn in as Los Angeles mayor next month, she’ll be making history in more ways than one. Not only will she be the first woman to lead LA, Bass will complete a rare tetrafecta of sorts: Black mayors will be running the nation’s four largest cities, with the congresswoman joining Eric Adams of New York, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston … “There’s a uniqueness to the opportunity of having Black mayors,” Adams said in an interview last week at POLITICO’s offices in New York. Adams said having more Black mayors and other mayors of color leading big cities affects how policy is shaped at both the Black mayors association and at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization that includes mayors of cities with populations greater than 30,000 residents.

Hochul signs partial cryptocurrency mining ban into New York law, by POLITICO’s Anna Gronewold: New York will instate a two-year moratorium on new fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency mining operations as the state works to balance its economic development and climate goals. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed the controversial measure into law that would create the first-in-the-nation temporary pause on new permits for fossil fuel power plants that house proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, which is a process used in the transaction of digital money. Hochul, who had punted on the issue for months after the Legislature passed the bill in June, was elected to a full term Nov. 8.

New ethics rules derailed state’s annual turkey donation program,” by Times Union’s Brendan J. Lyons: “The state Democratic Party hurriedly bought and helped distribute roughly 4,000 turkeys over the past few days after New York’s new ethics rules derailed what had been a November rite of passage for governors in New York to oversee the distribution of the donated birds. State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs on Tuesday confirmed that the party scrambled to purchase and distribute the turkeys — a giveaway that has been an annual tradition — after counsel for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration determined days ago that ethics laws adopted this year prohibited the state from accepting the donations.

After Colorado Springs mass shooting, NY Gov. Hochul signs hate crime bills,” by WNYC’s Jon Campbell: “Those convicted of hate crimes in New York will soon be required to complete a counseling program aimed at preventing future discriminatory crimes, according to a bill signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The new measure changes a single word in state law to require judges to impose the prevention course as part of any hate crime sentence. Previously, judges had the option to impose the course, but weren’t required to do so. The bill was one of two Hochul signed into law Tuesday that are focused on hate crimes.”

Officials credit lessons from 2014 for success in responding to ‘monster’ snowstorm this time,” by Buffalo News’ Robert J. McCarthy: “By Nov. 13, meteorologist Steve Welch recalls, forecasters knew they were dealing with – we’ll use a technical term here – ‘a monster.’ ‘I remember looking at the models last weekend and saw what might be happening, and I said, “Uh, this is going to be something with potential for a lot of snow,”’ he said with a bit of understatement. That recognition kicked-started official and private entities from Gov. Kathy Hochul on down into guiding a massive government and private sector response that, by just about all accounts, succeeded in avoiding the much more serious disasters of the past.”

Majority of counties yet to apply for pre-trial discovery funding,” by Times Union’s Joshua Solomon: “Fewer than half the counties in the state have formally applied for millions of dollars in aid to assist their district attorneys with implementing changes made in 2019 to New York’s pre-trial discovery laws. District attorneys attributed the slow uptick in counties that have applied for the state funding to the bureaucratic process, including when counties can approve and spend the money, along with a concern about creating new positions without a guarantee the funding will be there in the future.”

#UpstateAmerica: Stewart’s Shops online store will debut on Cyber Monday and reportedly includes a bedazzled tumbler.

Judge Blasts Trump Org Lawyers for Delay Tactics,” by Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery: “Years of delay tactics and games by the Trump Organization finally boiled over in New York court on Tuesday, when a state judge unleashed on the company and set a firm deadline for what could be the potential doom of Donald Trump’s family company. The Trump Organization is now set to go on trial Oct. 2, 2023, when it will face accusations that it routinely faked property values—dodging taxes and tricking banks in the process. Justice Arthur F. Engoron took a stern and exasperated tone against the former American presidents real estate company, setting deadlines that ensure the company faces justice long before its founder gets another chance at the White House.”

— A draft report based on a survey of Black and Hispanic Administration for Children’s Services workers found they believe the agency is biased against parents of color.

— Legislation introduced in the New York City Council would prohibit most non-compete clauses in freelance contracts.

— Public defenders said the Queens District Attorney’s office is not sharing evidence properly.

— The UJA-Federation of New York discovered Twitter posts that led to the arrest of two men at Penn Station who posed a threat to the Jewish community.

— Mayor Eric Adams signed domestic violence bills but wouldn’t immediately commit to how much funding the new programs would get.

— A suspect was arrested in a string of brick hurling attacks on a Manhattan gay bar.

— “Celebrating Dems Senate victory, Schumer praises New Yorkers’ affinity for Yiddish

— Women of the formerly all-male New York Philharmonic now outnumber men.

— New York’s common retirement fund has lost billions of dollars in value since April, according to state comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

— Rep. Elise Stefanikis not pleased Amtrak hasn’t said when service will resume on the Adirondack line to Montreal.

— Women advocacy groupshave a women’s agenda for the state’s first woman governor.

— “How small playersfeed Syracuse’s big gun problem: 1,000 crime guns have come from outside NY”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer … NYT’s Carolyn RyanRobin Roberts HuffPost’s Jade WalkerDanny Cevallos Amy Schatz of Glen Echo Group … Keith Boynton Charlie Goodyear Alan Rosenberg, partner and founder of RG Group

MEDIAWATCH — “Meet the Smiths: The partnership that led to Semafor,” by Adam Piore in Columbia Journalism Review

— “AP fired a reporter after a dangerous blunder. Slack messages reveal a chaotic process,” by Semafor’s Max Tani

— Bill Hinkle is now coordinating booking producer for NBC News, where he manages the booking team for NBC News NOW. He most recently was a senior editorial producer for CNN.

$2 Billion Development in Queens Approved Amid Housing Crisis,” by The New York Times’ Emma G. Fitzsimmons: “The New York City Council voted on Tuesday to approve another major housing development in a sign that elected officials are increasingly willing to work with the real estate industry to address the city’s urgent housing crisis. The project, a massive $2 billion development known as Innovation Queens, will span five city blocks and add more than 3,000 homes in Astoria.”

New law will prevent homeowners’ associations from banning EV chargers,” by Spectrum’s Nick Reisman: “Homeowners associations in New York will not be able to prevent the installation of electric vehicle charging stations on private property under a law approved Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The measure is meant to make it easier for homeowners to install the charging stations as New York seeks to transition to more renewable forms of energy and phase out gas-powered vehicles by the next decade. The new law will allow homeowners’ associations to have input on how chargers are installed.”

What is ‘green’ development?” by Streetsblog’s Julianne Cuba: “A controversial development that has been tied up in court for more than six years ago is now facing yet another lawsuit from residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown — this time arguing that the Two Bridges mega-project will infringe upon the new constitutional right to clean air and water in a low-income community of color that already suffers from high rates of asthma.”