The NYC Thorn is a weekly roundup of local political news compiled by members of NYC-DSA.
NO. 264 | Monday, April 4
Workers at Amazon’s JFK8 Fulfillment Center in Staten Island voted to form the Amazon Labor Union, becoming the first Amazon workers to unionize. The unionization effort was led by Chris Smalls, who was fired by Amazon two years ago for speaking out about the company’s disregard of worker safety during the pandemic. Another Staten Island fulfillment center is slated to have its own union vote later this month.
The State budget was not passed on time, as Governor Hochul and the Legislature continue to negotiate various measures. Sticking points include:
Criminal Justice Reform: A copy of the criminal justice reform rollbacks being considered by State Senate leadership was leaked to New York Focus. They include much of what Governor Hochul has requested, including significant changes to the 2019 bail and discovery reforms, but many legislators oppose any rollbacks.
Buffalo Stadium Deal: Governor Hochul announced a deal to provide $850 million in public subsidy to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills — the largest ever public subsidy given to an American football team. Over sixty organizations signed a letter opposing the deal, and pointing out the Governor’s potential conflict of interest, given her husband’s role in a company that holds concession rights on the Bills’ current stadium.
Mayoral Control of Schools: Eric Adams’ wish to extend mayoral control of City schools appears to be out of budget negotiations for now.
Health Care: Governor Hochul is balking at the cost of a proposal to extend health care to undocumented New Yorkers, but experts say her office is inflating the actual costs.
Climate: Climate activists want Governor Hochul to include more funding to address the State's largest source of carbon emissions: buildings.
An effort led by Mayor Adams has cleared over 239 street encampments in 12 days, but only 5 people at those sites agreed to go to city shelters. The controversial effort is accompanied by his administration's planned 500 bed expansion of the shelter system, including an 80-bed “safe haven” shelter that opened in the Bronx this week.
Uber and Lyft drivers caravaned across the Brooklyn Bridge to press for wage hikes amidst soaring gas prices.
The City is expanding the B-HEARD pilot program, which sends unarmed social workers instead of the NYPD, to people experiencing mental health crises.
Private emails between the Washington Square Park Conservancy and the Parks Department show how wealthy donors were able to exert influence over rules, enforcement, and licensing at the park, even while some donors had fled the City during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
New City Comptroller Brad Lander failed to correctly file a required surety bond after being sworn in last January, making him technically ineligible to hold the office, but the Assembly voted to extend the deadline.
A Steuben County judge ruled that the state’s new district maps, which are heavily tilted to favor the Democratic Party, are unconstitutional, and ordered the Legislature to pass new maps by April 11. The judge’s ruling is currently stayed pending an appeal by Democrats.
A gubernatorial poll shows Governor Kathy Hochul with a commanding lead over her declared rivals in the Democratic primary, Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi, and leading a hypothetical matchup with former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
New York State Democratic Party Chair and longtime Andrew Cuomo ally Jay Jacobs is reportedly reaching out to incumbent Democratic State representatives about forming a third party to run on should they lose their primaries.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin was issued a subpoena by the Manhattan DA last August, before being selected for his current post, related to the same campaign violations for which he is being investigated by federal prosecutors.
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