CITY Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. https://www.gothamgazette.com/city 2022-12-03T04:53:34+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Joomla! - Open Source Content Management As Hochul Promises ‘Bold’ Agenda, Many Housing Policies on the Table for 2023 in Albany 2022-12-02T05:00:00+00:00 2022-12-02T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11707-governor-hochul-bold-agenda-housing-2023-albany Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-many-housing-proposals.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul at a housing event (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York faces an acute housing crisis: rents are sky high, not enough housing is being built, homeownership is increasingly out of reach, and there is a looming eviction crisis coming out of the covid pandemic. But while the issues contributing to the problem have long been simmering, solutions from state and city leaders have been halting and piecemeal, far from meeting the need wherein 53% of New York City tenants are </span><a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/2021-nychvs-selected-initial-findings.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">rent-burdened</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with 32% “severely” rent-burdened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The housing crisis, including the shortage of new housing to meet demand, requires an all-of-government response. New York City Mayor Adams and the City Council have recently passed or announced plans for tens of thousands of new apartments, with the mayor promising more to come. Heading into the new year, all eyes will be on Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature as the state’s budget and legislative session begins, with housing among the top issues on the agenda for the newly-elected governor and legislators.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Democratic governor has already promised that housing will be one of the top priorities for her administration as she starts her first full term in January.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“People want to live here; they just can’t afford it anymore,” she said in an October </span><a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/25/kathy-hochul-new-york-00063396" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">interview with Politico New York</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “The cost of housing is up 57 percent in the last seven years. Rent is up, depending on the part of the state, anywhere from 27 percent to 57 percent across New York. And so what that does is it creates a barrier for young people who are raised here, educated here and want to live in the same neighborhood they grew up in — Long Island, Westchester, the city — and they can’t afford it. That’s a tragedy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She pledged to release a “very ambitious housing plan” to meet what she has said is the state’s need for between 500,000 to 1.2 million new units of housing over the next ten years. (The </span><a href="https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">National Low Income Housing Coalition</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> estimates that New York has a shortage of more than 615,000 rental units for very low-income households with a maximum income of $26,200 for a family of four.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul has already committed to a five-year, $25 billion housing preservation and construction program that will produce 100,000 units, just scratching the surface. “So we have to be much more creative and start catching up with other cities and regions in building housing,” said Hochul, who earlier this year proposed but was unable to pass a series of policies to boost housing production in the state.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the keynote speech at the New York Housing Conference’s annual conference on Thursday, Hochul pointed to the scope of the state’s housing woes. “We are in the midst of a housing crisis that has been decades in the making,” she said. “In the decade before the pandemic we created jobs at three times the rate of housing units leaving us with 1.25 million jobs but only 400,000 units of housing. See the disconnect? We now have the jobs but where are you going to put the workers? Where are they supposed to live?” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul also acknowledged that the crisis is largely self-inflicted because of the “cumbersome” regulations that delay development for years, as well as local anti-housing opposition. “We're a national leader in blocking housing…New York is essentially in a league of its own when it comes to constricting housing development,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The governor again pledged Thursday to offer a “bold and audacious” housing plan in her January State of the State agenda, which she said will include a real statewide “housing strategy,” which is currently lacking.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Navigating the state’s housing crisis will be a monumental challenge and there will be at times competing and complementary policy pushes from the governor, lawmakers, tenant and housing advocates, the real estate industry, local officials like Mayor Adams, and others. Reforms could address the entire spectrum of housing policy from rent regulations and tenant protections to zoning rules and tax incentives, and beyond.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The most important thing is that housing is at the top of the agenda in Albany for 2023,” said Andrew Fine, policy director for Open New York, a pro-housing group based in the city. “And that there’s an agreement among the governor and the State Legislature that they can't go home in June without passing some meaningful bills that will advance housing production.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In New York City, where the affordable housing crisis is particularly severe, Mayor Adams is </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11384-mayor-adams-affordable-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">attempting</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to make sweeping changes to citywide zoning regulations under his “</span><a href="https://www.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/353-22/mayor-adams-outlines-vision-city-yes-plan-citywide-zoning-initiatives-support#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">City of Yes</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” plan, in order to make it easier to build housing. As the specifics of that proposal are being crafted with a 2024 timeline, the Adams administration has been working on a series of major development deals, often with private developers, and the City Council has approved over 12,000 units of new housing on rezoned land already this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Adams’ administration has its own demands of the state, particularly when it comes to tax incentives that the governor, mayor, and others say are crucial to spur real estate developers to build affordable housing.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“New York City urgently needs more rental housing, including a significant number of below market rate units,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a statement. “The State Legislature has taken several actions in recent years purportedly in response to the housing crisis – and that crisis has only gotten worse. We hope the Legislature will now take a different approach by focusing on common-sense policies that produce more of the rental housing New Yorkers desperately need."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile, some housing advocates are particularly focused on legislation that will immediately protect renters from large rent increases, eviction, and homelessness. The Housing Justice for All statewide coalition, for instance, has backed three proposals – Just Cause Eviction, a new Housing Access Voucher Program, and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among other policies, there is renewed focus heading into the 2023 state session on those three bills as well as how to bring tens of thousands of vacant rent-stabilized units back into tenancy, crafting a replacement for the expired 421-a tax abatement program for housing development, the white whale of sweeping property tax reform, ways to build more housing in the New York City suburbs, and more.</span></p> <p><b>Tax Incentives<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perhaps the most important tax benefit for the real estate industry was 421-a, a program that incentivized affordable housing creation and lapsed last year. Progressives long criticized the program as effectively a major giveaway to developers with limited return on investment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Governor Hochul proposed a modified version, called 485-w, that had stronger affordable housing mandates and would have opened up new kinds of housing to the tax benefit. But her proposal failed to pass in the face of opposition from state legislators. The governor is likely to advance another measure next year and it remains to be seen whether it will get a nod from the Legislature. Mayor Adams and administration officials are among those who have called for a new solution to be crafted to ensure more housing production.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At a </span><a href="https://vimeo.com/event/2546239/e03c848ab3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Citizens Budget Commission breakfast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> last month, Jessica Katz, the city’s chief housing officer, said that besides incentives for new construction, the Adams administration is also pushing for a tax abatement for housing preservation “because now we're in a position where because of the economic environment, we're starting to worry about housing quality in a way that we haven't had to in a certain amount of time.” She specifically referred to renewing the expired J-51 program for renovating residential buildings. </span></p> <p><b>Zoning and Regulatory Reforms<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The CBC and the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit think tank, have both urged changes to the state’s zoning laws and regulations that determine housing development and land use decisions statewide. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a </span><a href="https://cbcny.org/research/improving-new-york-citys-land-use-decision-making-process" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> released in September, CBC recommended that the state make changes to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process to expedite development and to set objective standards for local governments to contribute to regional housing while expedite approvals for projects that meet those goals. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">RPA has called for a more sweeping zoning framework for the state. “The discussion is heading to how can we change our overall regulations so that we can build more, and more of the type of housing that we need, but in a way that is going to be less objectionable for communities than what's being built now or what could be built otherwise, whether those concerns are noise, height, or gentrification and having too many luxury apartments with not enough affordable,” said Moses Gates, RPA's Vice President for Housing and Neighborhood Planning, in a September appearance on </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11597-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-housing-crisis-solutions" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At the top of the list is we just need a state framework at all…In New York, we have absolutely nothing,” he added in the interview, pointing to states like New Jersey and California that have made progress. “We don't even have a state department of planning. So before we can do anything...the state just needs to acknowledge that it plays a role in housing production, smart planning, and housing growth.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul indicated in her speech Thursday that her approach will be statewide, alluding to the type of framework that Gates spoke of. “[E]very community, every small town, every local zoning board, every planning board, every community has a role to play. And they must,” Hochul said.  </span></p> <p><b>Basement Apartments and Accessory Dwelling Units<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Adams administration is also pushing for the legalization of basement apartments and other Accessory Dwelling Units, which officials say will open up new units of housing while also giving homeowners additional streams of income. It would also help bring under code existing illegal housing that can be especially dangerous.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul had proposed a bill in last year’s budget to legalize ADUs for single-family homes, which would have allowed homeowners to go around local zoning laws to add basement apartments or certain types of ‘granny flats.’ But she scrapped it after facing significant backlash from suburban lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, particularly on Long Island.</span></p> <p><b>Transit-Oriented Development</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another proposal Hochul could revive in the new year is a measure to allow multi-family housing development around rail transit stations in New York City and its suburbs. Hochul proposed the idea in this year’s budget but it was met with similar opposition as the ADU proposal and she eventually scrapped it too.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The proposal has support from advocacy groups that say it is crucial to building more housing, especially near transit and in the suburbs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We don't think that New York is keeping pace with other states that have really taken actions to unlock housing supply by using the state zoning authority,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, a nonprofit advocacy group. </span></p> <p><b>Good Cause Eviction<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the chief priorities for progressive lawmakers and tenant advocates is the “good cause eviction” bill proposed by State Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, which would give tenants </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/21/realestate/good-cause-eviction-renters-new-york.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">stronger protections</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> against significant rent raises and evictions. Landlords have vociferously opposed the proposal as it gained momentum in Albany, while Governor Hochul has so far refused to take a position on it. </span></p> <p><b>Housing Vouchers <br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Brian Kavanagh and outgoing Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who chair the housing committees in their respective chambers, proposed legislation to create a Housing Access Voucher Program for homeless families and households at a risk of homeless, which would cost roughly $200 million in its first year. The measure had significant backing in the Legislature but the governor’s office did not support the bill, specifically arguing over the estimated budget impact of the program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is likely to be among the top housing priorities for the Democratic majorities in the Legislature during state budget negotiations.</span></p> <p><b>Tenant Opportunity to Purchase<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes sponsored the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would give tenants first chance to buy the buildings where they live before the owner can put them on the open market. The proposal, also known as right of first refusal, did not make it past committee last year.</span></p> <p><b>Rent-Stabilized Vacancies<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a group that represents owners and managers of tens of thousands of rent-stabilized buildings in New York City, is making a major push for a “vacancy reset” allowing landlords to reset the rent on rent-stabilized units when they are vacated to a level in line with other apartments in the neighborhood, higher than is currently allowed under state law.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The group says the measure would allow building owners to rehabilitate 20,000 vacant and dilapidated units, which would then continue being regulated but at the new, higher rent. According to reporting from </span><a href="https://citylimits.org/2022/11/17/empty-rent-stabilized-units-in-nyc-decreased-this-year-as-warehousing-debate-rages/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">City Limits</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, as many as 38,621 rent-stabilized units out of roughly 1 million in the city, are vacant, down from more than 61,000 last year, per data from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the state’s housing agency, which relies on self-reporting by landlords. According to CHIP, owners have been unable to perform needed renovations on many of those buildings after the Legislature passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA), which limited rent increases on vacated rent-stabilized apartments. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Better housing is possible. And it doesn’t require billions of dollars in government investment, it simply requires the government to implement policies designed to grow the supply of housing and rollback current policies, which are designed to keep housing scarce,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP, in a statement. “The high rents, lack of quality apartments, and overall frustration with housing is solely due to bad policies put in place decades ago, and the lack of political courage among elected officials to change these policies over the years.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tenant advocacy groups have naturally opposed the idea of a so-called vacancy reset. And the proposal will likely face headwinds from left-leaning legislators. But there will be pressure on Hochul and lawmakers to find a solution that will help bring tens of thousands of vacant, rent-stabilized units back into service to tenants.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Open New York, for instance, has proposed an </span><a href="https://www.opennewyork.city/policy-proposals/action-plan-for-vacant-apartments/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">action plan</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to reduce apartment vacancy including a statewide rental registry, greater enforcement through foreclosures on properties with longstanding unpaid taxes and violations, property tax reform, adding more affordable homes to the city’s online Housing Connect portal, and beefing up staff at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation &amp; Development.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides the vacancy reset, CHIP’s legislative agenda for 2023 also includes support for Hochul’s ADU and transit-oriented development proposals, the Housing Access Voucher Program, removing the cap on floor area ratio that limits the size of housing development, and a ban on parking minimums for housing development near transit hubs.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">CHIP and the Rent Stabilization Association, another trade group of landlords and property owners, filed a lawsuit prompted by the 2019 law, arguing that the entire rent regulation system is unconstitutional. The case has yet to be decided and could end up on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.  </span></p> <p><b>Increasing the FAR Cap<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last year, Governor Hochul proposed eliminating the state’s cap on floor area ratio (FAR) for residential buildings in New York City, which would allow developers to build denser buildings. Commercial buildings already have a higher FAR cap than residential ones. But the proposal was among several housing policies that failed to pass the finish line and which the governor may revisit next year.  </span></p> <p><b>Property Tax Reform<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">A big open question is whether the governor and Legislature will finally attempt to reform New York City’s property tax system, which is in large part governed by state law and imposes inequitable taxes on homeowners despite the value of their homes. Successive mayors have pledged to take it up as an issue in Albany and have repeatedly failed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most recent effort came from Mayor Bill de Blasio who punted the issue to a commission that issued its reform recommendations in a report just days before his tenure ended. Mayor Adams has shown no indication of carrying that report forward or proposed any alternatives of his own. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The New York City Council held a </span><a href="https://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/reform-nyc-s-property-taxes-soon-city-officials-say" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">hearing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in mid-November on the city’s property tax system, where there was a variety of testimony urging city and state officials to urgently address the issue in 2023. Among those testifying was City Comptroller Brad Lander, who issued a </span><a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/nyc-comptroller-outlines-framework-for-comprehensive-property-tax-reform/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">framework</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for comprehensive reforms including incentivize new rental housing production by reducing base tax rates by about 30%, aligning tie tax breaks with the cost and affordability of buildings, and replacing the expired 421-a program with a new version of the state’s Mitchell-Lama program to create permanently affordable, cooperative homeownership.</span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-many-housing-proposals.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul at a housing event (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York faces an acute housing crisis: rents are sky high, not enough housing is being built, homeownership is increasingly out of reach, and there is a looming eviction crisis coming out of the covid pandemic. But while the issues contributing to the problem have long been simmering, solutions from state and city leaders have been halting and piecemeal, far from meeting the need wherein 53% of New York City tenants are </span><a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/2021-nychvs-selected-initial-findings.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">rent-burdened</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with 32% “severely” rent-burdened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The housing crisis, including the shortage of new housing to meet demand, requires an all-of-government response. New York City Mayor Adams and the City Council have recently passed or announced plans for tens of thousands of new apartments, with the mayor promising more to come. Heading into the new year, all eyes will be on Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature as the state’s budget and legislative session begins, with housing among the top issues on the agenda for the newly-elected governor and legislators.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Democratic governor has already promised that housing will be one of the top priorities for her administration as she starts her first full term in January.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“People want to live here; they just can’t afford it anymore,” she said in an October </span><a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/25/kathy-hochul-new-york-00063396" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">interview with Politico New York</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “The cost of housing is up 57 percent in the last seven years. Rent is up, depending on the part of the state, anywhere from 27 percent to 57 percent across New York. And so what that does is it creates a barrier for young people who are raised here, educated here and want to live in the same neighborhood they grew up in — Long Island, Westchester, the city — and they can’t afford it. That’s a tragedy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She pledged to release a “very ambitious housing plan” to meet what she has said is the state’s need for between 500,000 to 1.2 million new units of housing over the next ten years. (The </span><a href="https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">National Low Income Housing Coalition</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> estimates that New York has a shortage of more than 615,000 rental units for very low-income households with a maximum income of $26,200 for a family of four.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul has already committed to a five-year, $25 billion housing preservation and construction program that will produce 100,000 units, just scratching the surface. “So we have to be much more creative and start catching up with other cities and regions in building housing,” said Hochul, who earlier this year proposed but was unable to pass a series of policies to boost housing production in the state.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the keynote speech at the New York Housing Conference’s annual conference on Thursday, Hochul pointed to the scope of the state’s housing woes. “We are in the midst of a housing crisis that has been decades in the making,” she said. “In the decade before the pandemic we created jobs at three times the rate of housing units leaving us with 1.25 million jobs but only 400,000 units of housing. See the disconnect? We now have the jobs but where are you going to put the workers? Where are they supposed to live?” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul also acknowledged that the crisis is largely self-inflicted because of the “cumbersome” regulations that delay development for years, as well as local anti-housing opposition. “We're a national leader in blocking housing…New York is essentially in a league of its own when it comes to constricting housing development,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The governor again pledged Thursday to offer a “bold and audacious” housing plan in her January State of the State agenda, which she said will include a real statewide “housing strategy,” which is currently lacking.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Navigating the state’s housing crisis will be a monumental challenge and there will be at times competing and complementary policy pushes from the governor, lawmakers, tenant and housing advocates, the real estate industry, local officials like Mayor Adams, and others. Reforms could address the entire spectrum of housing policy from rent regulations and tenant protections to zoning rules and tax incentives, and beyond.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The most important thing is that housing is at the top of the agenda in Albany for 2023,” said Andrew Fine, policy director for Open New York, a pro-housing group based in the city. “And that there’s an agreement among the governor and the State Legislature that they can't go home in June without passing some meaningful bills that will advance housing production.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In New York City, where the affordable housing crisis is particularly severe, Mayor Adams is </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11384-mayor-adams-affordable-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">attempting</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to make sweeping changes to citywide zoning regulations under his “</span><a href="https://www.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/353-22/mayor-adams-outlines-vision-city-yes-plan-citywide-zoning-initiatives-support#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">City of Yes</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” plan, in order to make it easier to build housing. As the specifics of that proposal are being crafted with a 2024 timeline, the Adams administration has been working on a series of major development deals, often with private developers, and the City Council has approved over 12,000 units of new housing on rezoned land already this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Adams’ administration has its own demands of the state, particularly when it comes to tax incentives that the governor, mayor, and others say are crucial to spur real estate developers to build affordable housing.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“New York City urgently needs more rental housing, including a significant number of below market rate units,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a statement. “The State Legislature has taken several actions in recent years purportedly in response to the housing crisis – and that crisis has only gotten worse. We hope the Legislature will now take a different approach by focusing on common-sense policies that produce more of the rental housing New Yorkers desperately need."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile, some housing advocates are particularly focused on legislation that will immediately protect renters from large rent increases, eviction, and homelessness. The Housing Justice for All statewide coalition, for instance, has backed three proposals – Just Cause Eviction, a new Housing Access Voucher Program, and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among other policies, there is renewed focus heading into the 2023 state session on those three bills as well as how to bring tens of thousands of vacant rent-stabilized units back into tenancy, crafting a replacement for the expired 421-a tax abatement program for housing development, the white whale of sweeping property tax reform, ways to build more housing in the New York City suburbs, and more.</span></p> <p><b>Tax Incentives<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perhaps the most important tax benefit for the real estate industry was 421-a, a program that incentivized affordable housing creation and lapsed last year. Progressives long criticized the program as effectively a major giveaway to developers with limited return on investment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Governor Hochul proposed a modified version, called 485-w, that had stronger affordable housing mandates and would have opened up new kinds of housing to the tax benefit. But her proposal failed to pass in the face of opposition from state legislators. The governor is likely to advance another measure next year and it remains to be seen whether it will get a nod from the Legislature. Mayor Adams and administration officials are among those who have called for a new solution to be crafted to ensure more housing production.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At a </span><a href="https://vimeo.com/event/2546239/e03c848ab3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Citizens Budget Commission breakfast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> last month, Jessica Katz, the city’s chief housing officer, said that besides incentives for new construction, the Adams administration is also pushing for a tax abatement for housing preservation “because now we're in a position where because of the economic environment, we're starting to worry about housing quality in a way that we haven't had to in a certain amount of time.” She specifically referred to renewing the expired J-51 program for renovating residential buildings. </span></p> <p><b>Zoning and Regulatory Reforms<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The CBC and the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit think tank, have both urged changes to the state’s zoning laws and regulations that determine housing development and land use decisions statewide. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a </span><a href="https://cbcny.org/research/improving-new-york-citys-land-use-decision-making-process" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> released in September, CBC recommended that the state make changes to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process to expedite development and to set objective standards for local governments to contribute to regional housing while expedite approvals for projects that meet those goals. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">RPA has called for a more sweeping zoning framework for the state. “The discussion is heading to how can we change our overall regulations so that we can build more, and more of the type of housing that we need, but in a way that is going to be less objectionable for communities than what's being built now or what could be built otherwise, whether those concerns are noise, height, or gentrification and having too many luxury apartments with not enough affordable,” said Moses Gates, RPA's Vice President for Housing and Neighborhood Planning, in a September appearance on </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11597-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-housing-crisis-solutions" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At the top of the list is we just need a state framework at all…In New York, we have absolutely nothing,” he added in the interview, pointing to states like New Jersey and California that have made progress. “We don't even have a state department of planning. So before we can do anything...the state just needs to acknowledge that it plays a role in housing production, smart planning, and housing growth.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul indicated in her speech Thursday that her approach will be statewide, alluding to the type of framework that Gates spoke of. “[E]very community, every small town, every local zoning board, every planning board, every community has a role to play. And they must,” Hochul said.  </span></p> <p><b>Basement Apartments and Accessory Dwelling Units<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Adams administration is also pushing for the legalization of basement apartments and other Accessory Dwelling Units, which officials say will open up new units of housing while also giving homeowners additional streams of income. It would also help bring under code existing illegal housing that can be especially dangerous.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hochul had proposed a bill in last year’s budget to legalize ADUs for single-family homes, which would have allowed homeowners to go around local zoning laws to add basement apartments or certain types of ‘granny flats.’ But she scrapped it after facing significant backlash from suburban lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, particularly on Long Island.</span></p> <p><b>Transit-Oriented Development</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another proposal Hochul could revive in the new year is a measure to allow multi-family housing development around rail transit stations in New York City and its suburbs. Hochul proposed the idea in this year’s budget but it was met with similar opposition as the ADU proposal and she eventually scrapped it too.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The proposal has support from advocacy groups that say it is crucial to building more housing, especially near transit and in the suburbs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We don't think that New York is keeping pace with other states that have really taken actions to unlock housing supply by using the state zoning authority,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, a nonprofit advocacy group. </span></p> <p><b>Good Cause Eviction<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the chief priorities for progressive lawmakers and tenant advocates is the “good cause eviction” bill proposed by State Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, which would give tenants </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/21/realestate/good-cause-eviction-renters-new-york.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">stronger protections</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> against significant rent raises and evictions. Landlords have vociferously opposed the proposal as it gained momentum in Albany, while Governor Hochul has so far refused to take a position on it. </span></p> <p><b>Housing Vouchers <br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Brian Kavanagh and outgoing Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who chair the housing committees in their respective chambers, proposed legislation to create a Housing Access Voucher Program for homeless families and households at a risk of homeless, which would cost roughly $200 million in its first year. The measure had significant backing in the Legislature but the governor’s office did not support the bill, specifically arguing over the estimated budget impact of the program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is likely to be among the top housing priorities for the Democratic majorities in the Legislature during state budget negotiations.</span></p> <p><b>Tenant Opportunity to Purchase<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes sponsored the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would give tenants first chance to buy the buildings where they live before the owner can put them on the open market. The proposal, also known as right of first refusal, did not make it past committee last year.</span></p> <p><b>Rent-Stabilized Vacancies<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a group that represents owners and managers of tens of thousands of rent-stabilized buildings in New York City, is making a major push for a “vacancy reset” allowing landlords to reset the rent on rent-stabilized units when they are vacated to a level in line with other apartments in the neighborhood, higher than is currently allowed under state law.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The group says the measure would allow building owners to rehabilitate 20,000 vacant and dilapidated units, which would then continue being regulated but at the new, higher rent. According to reporting from </span><a href="https://citylimits.org/2022/11/17/empty-rent-stabilized-units-in-nyc-decreased-this-year-as-warehousing-debate-rages/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">City Limits</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, as many as 38,621 rent-stabilized units out of roughly 1 million in the city, are vacant, down from more than 61,000 last year, per data from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the state’s housing agency, which relies on self-reporting by landlords. According to CHIP, owners have been unable to perform needed renovations on many of those buildings after the Legislature passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA), which limited rent increases on vacated rent-stabilized apartments. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Better housing is possible. And it doesn’t require billions of dollars in government investment, it simply requires the government to implement policies designed to grow the supply of housing and rollback current policies, which are designed to keep housing scarce,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP, in a statement. “The high rents, lack of quality apartments, and overall frustration with housing is solely due to bad policies put in place decades ago, and the lack of political courage among elected officials to change these policies over the years.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tenant advocacy groups have naturally opposed the idea of a so-called vacancy reset. And the proposal will likely face headwinds from left-leaning legislators. But there will be pressure on Hochul and lawmakers to find a solution that will help bring tens of thousands of vacant, rent-stabilized units back into service to tenants.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Open New York, for instance, has proposed an </span><a href="https://www.opennewyork.city/policy-proposals/action-plan-for-vacant-apartments/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">action plan</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to reduce apartment vacancy including a statewide rental registry, greater enforcement through foreclosures on properties with longstanding unpaid taxes and violations, property tax reform, adding more affordable homes to the city’s online Housing Connect portal, and beefing up staff at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation &amp; Development.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides the vacancy reset, CHIP’s legislative agenda for 2023 also includes support for Hochul’s ADU and transit-oriented development proposals, the Housing Access Voucher Program, removing the cap on floor area ratio that limits the size of housing development, and a ban on parking minimums for housing development near transit hubs.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">CHIP and the Rent Stabilization Association, another trade group of landlords and property owners, filed a lawsuit prompted by the 2019 law, arguing that the entire rent regulation system is unconstitutional. The case has yet to be decided and could end up on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.  </span></p> <p><b>Increasing the FAR Cap<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last year, Governor Hochul proposed eliminating the state’s cap on floor area ratio (FAR) for residential buildings in New York City, which would allow developers to build denser buildings. Commercial buildings already have a higher FAR cap than residential ones. But the proposal was among several housing policies that failed to pass the finish line and which the governor may revisit next year.  </span></p> <p><b>Property Tax Reform<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">A big open question is whether the governor and Legislature will finally attempt to reform New York City’s property tax system, which is in large part governed by state law and imposes inequitable taxes on homeowners despite the value of their homes. Successive mayors have pledged to take it up as an issue in Albany and have repeatedly failed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most recent effort came from Mayor Bill de Blasio who punted the issue to a commission that issued its reform recommendations in a report just days before his tenure ended. Mayor Adams has shown no indication of carrying that report forward or proposed any alternatives of his own. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The New York City Council held a </span><a href="https://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/reform-nyc-s-property-taxes-soon-city-officials-say" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">hearing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in mid-November on the city’s property tax system, where there was a variety of testimony urging city and state officials to urgently address the issue in 2023. Among those testifying was City Comptroller Brad Lander, who issued a </span><a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/nyc-comptroller-outlines-framework-for-comprehensive-property-tax-reform/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">framework</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for comprehensive reforms including incentivize new rental housing production by reducing base tax rates by about 30%, aligning tie tax breaks with the cost and affordability of buildings, and replacing the expired 421-a program with a new version of the state’s Mitchell-Lama program to create permanently affordable, cooperative homeownership.</span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max Politics Podcast: Ron Kim on How Democrats Can Win Back Asian Voters 2022-11-30T14:00:00+00:00 2022-11-30T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11703-max-politics-podcast-ron-kim-democrats-republicans-asian-american-voters-new-york Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-democrats-asian-600.jpg" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Ron Kim (photo: @rontkim)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 30, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Ron Kim on How Democrats Can Win Back Asian Voters<br /></strong></p> <p>Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, fresh off a narrow reelection win, joined the show to discuss how Democrats can win back Asian voters who have been moving toward Republicans in recent election cycles, what's wrong with the Democratic Party in New York, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <hr /> <p>
Max Politics · Episode 368: Ron Kim On How Democrats Can Win Back Asian Voters
</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-democrats-asian-600.jpg" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Ron Kim (photo: @rontkim)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 30, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Ron Kim on How Democrats Can Win Back Asian Voters<br /></strong></p> <p>Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, fresh off a narrow reelection win, joined the show to discuss how Democrats can win back Asian voters who have been moving toward Republicans in recent election cycles, what's wrong with the Democratic Party in New York, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <hr /> <p>
Max Politics · Episode 368: Ron Kim On How Democrats Can Win Back Asian Voters
</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
'I knew the vote would be close, but I didn't think that close': Iwen Chu's History-Making Win in Brooklyn's New 17th State Senate District 2022-11-30T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-30T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11695-iwen-chu-win-brooklyn-new-17th-state-senate-district Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/closer-look-win.jpg" /></p> <p>A rally for Iwen Chu, center (photo: @Iwen4NY)</p> <hr /> <p>This month, Iwen Chu became the first Asian-American woman elected to the New York State Senate, clinching an unexpectedly tight victory over Republican Vito LaBella. Starting in January, Chu will represent the 17th Senate District, a newly-created Asian-plurality district in Southern Brooklyn, redrawn in the recent redistricting process based on demographic trends in the 2020 Census, which saw Asian Americans as the fastest growing group in New York in the last ten years.</p> <p>Chu’s victory was hard fought, with a margin of just 215 votes as of November 21, and though going into the election she was expected to win fairly easily, she wound up defying the political headwinds by significantly outperforming the top of the Democratic ticket in neighborhoods that have been increasingly leaning towards Republicans over the last few years.</p> <p>The new 17th District, one of 63 Senate seats across the state, includes parts of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Kensington, and Dyker Heights, with a population that is 48.6% Asian, 29.3% white, and 18% Hispanic according to the CUNY Graduate Center’s <a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=sd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=sen_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-73.997,40.622#%26map=11.92/40.62822/-73.99621" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redistricting and You</a> project.</p> <p>The district is home to 69,884 registered Democrats, 18,645 Republicans, and 40,182 party-unaffiliated registered voters, according to <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/EnrollmentSD.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">State Board of Elections data</a> as of November 1. Even though Democrat Joe Biden won what is now the district by nearly 17 points over Republican President Donald Trump in the high turnout 2020 election, the district has been growing redder in other races, like for mayor and city and state legislative seats.</p> <p>As was readily apparent from this and past elections, portions of Southern Brooklyn are unlike much of the rest of the heavily Democratic borough. In the 2021 mayoral race, Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa carried much of the region over Eric Adams, and in this election, Republicans won three Assembly seats, unseating incumbent Democrats.</p> <p>In this year’s election, not only did Hochul win by a far narrower margin than the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the last four elections, but Democrats sustained significant defeats in Southern Brooklyn, on Long Island, and in the Hudson Valley. And though U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor, lost in all of Brooklyn to Governor Kathy Hochul by a margin of 28.3% to 70.8%, he handily won in Southern Brooklyn.</p> <p>The new 17th State Senate districts overlaps significantly with the smaller Assembly districts 47, 49, and 51, and slivers of Assembly Districts 44, 45, 46, and 64.</p> <p>Assembly Districts 47 and 49 cover the vast majority of Senate District 17 and include the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, with its large Asian-American population, Bath Beach, New Utrecht, and parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. Zeldin bested Hochul with 62% and 63% of the vote in those two Assembly districts, respectively. LaBella won those Assembly districts with smaller margins, 55% and 52% of the vote, respectively, meaning Chu was able to outrun Hochul by 7 and 11 points. However, in Assembly District 51, which covers Sunset Park and Red Hook, home to large Asian and Hispanic communities, Hochul won with 76.4% of the vote. Parts of that district in Sunset Park fall within the new Senate district and Chu won there with 71% of the vote, in essence providing her narrow overall margin of victory.</p> <p>Asian voters in Southern Brooklyn and parts of Queens have been voting more Republican in recent election cycles, and Chu had to win over many of them that were voting for Zeldin for governor in order to win her Senate race.</p> <p>Chu did have her advantages over LaBella, a former NYPD officer and education activist. She has long been involved in the local political arena, as a member of Community Board 11, a member of Community Education Council District 20, and most recently as former chief of staff to longtime Assemblymember Peter Abbate (who was among the Democratic incumbents defeated this year). Chu ran unopposed in the primary for the new open seat and was able to quickly garner widespread support from the Democratic political establishment, progressive groups, elected officials, political clubs, and labor unions across Brooklyn and beyond into the general election.</p> <p>Chu’s policy platform was comparable in parts to her opponent’s. “I believe education and public safety is not a party position. That's why even my opponent and I, on these two issues, we are very similar,” she said in a Monday interview. Chu supported changes to the state’s controversial bail laws to give judges more discretion in setting bail though LaBella’s positions went further – he was pushing for entirely reversing the state’s bail reforms, which eliminated cash bail for most nonviolent offenses.</p> <p>Both Chu and LaBella opposed efforts to replace gifted and talented programs in city schools and to drastically change admissions at the city's elite Specialized High Schools, issues that are particularly important to Asian American communities and on which Democrats have found themselves split.</p> <p>Chu also advocated for increased social services to tackle the root causes of crime, greater support for small businesses, including loans, grants, and language assistance programs,  increased resources for immigrant communities including legal assistance and poll site interpretation services, investments in street safety improvements, and increased affordable housing support.</p> <p>LaBella, meanwhile, also said he would push the governor to audit and fire any district attorneys who refuse to enforce the law, echoing a call from Republicans aimed specifically at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a reform-minded Democrat. LaBella also railed against Critical Race Theory, though it isn’t taught in city schools. In September, he landed in hot water after the <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-gop-candidate-vito-labella-hates-brooklyn-20220919-y6pssksr25fmfp7roqdxn5ouzy-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New York Daily News reported</a> on a video he posted last year from his summer home in Massachusetts, in which he said, “I just like it so much better here than Brooklyn. I hate fucking Brooklyn, I wish I never had to go back.”</p> <p>Though Chu, as a longtime participant in local politics and an Asian-American woman, had a ready constituency clamoring for representation in state government, she <a href="https://twitter.com/Iwen4NY/status/1585692222451814400?s=20&amp;t=AeHX2cKZ0-jnfU6f7ToLMA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">knew</a> the challenge she faced, having taken stock of the 2021 mayoral election. “We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned!,” she <a href="https://twitter.com/Iwen4NY/status/1585692222451814400" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tweeted</a> ahead of the election along with images of two maps showing how Sliwa performed well in the 2021 election alongside the contours of the new Senate district. She called for help from Democrats to ensure the seat would be theirs.</p> <p>“I knew the vote would be close, but I didn't think that close,” Chu said in the Monday interview.</p> <p>The issues that resonated with voters in the new 17th State Senate District were similar to those that Sliwa pounced on to win broad parts of the area: concerns about public safety, including rising anti-Asian hate crimes, and education, specifically preserving gifted and talented programs and test-based admissions to the city’s specialized high schools.</p> <p>“Safety concerns, it's definitely the number one topic no matter what language you speak or what background you're from. Everybody wants to feel safe,” Chu said.</p> <p>Some Democrats have long recognized that Southern Brooklyn voters go their own way and the Democrats there tend not to vote strictly along party lines. “We’ve never had blowout elections in Southern Brooklyn,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat whose current, outgoing district covered many of the neighborhoods of the new 17th. Gounardes himself flipped a seat from Republican to Democrat in the ‘blue wave’ 2018 elections.</p> <p>Gounardes placed no small amount of blame for losses and close calls on the state and county Democratic parties, which took a hands-off approach to the election that has incensed Democrats across the borough, city, state, and even country.</p> <p>“This election cycle, I didn't see a single bit of effort from the state party to invest in Southern Brooklyn. I didn't see any effort…barely an effort from the county party to help in southern Brooklyn,” he said of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which has been accused of failing to support its candidates while blaming them for their own defeats.</p> <p>Gounardes worries that without constant effort and attention from the party apparatus, “we will lose these neighborhoods for good. And I’m very concerned about that. because we have worked so hard to move the needle so far. And to see this work now being undone because we can't get the parties to pay attention is very disappointing.”</p> <p>“In the most Democratic county in the country, we should not be losing Democratic incumbents when the top of our ticket is winning,” he added.</p> <p>City Council Member Justin Brannan, a Bay Ridge Democrat who also narrowly won reelection last year, echoed Gounardes. “Southern Brooklyn has always been unique and complicated and often misunderstood or taken for granted,” he said. “Every cycle people seem to have amnesia about how close the general elections are in Southern Brooklyn and I certainly don’t enjoy saying, ‘I told you so’ but this is something that we've been sounding the alarm on for quite a while. The Democratic Party has all but completely lost large portions of voters in Southern Brooklyn who are now reliably voting Republican.”</p> <p>What most people agree on is that Democrats lost the rhetorical battle to Republicans on the issue of crime and public safety. Republicans repeatedly hammered away at rising crime rates, blaming Democratic policies for what they depicted as an out of control city and state, especially honing in on rising hate crimes against the Asian community. That message was largely consistent from local races up to the statewide level.</p> <p>“Campaign strategy-wise, Republicans, they do organize, they do,” Chu said. “Obviously, the voters took the message and then they sent the message to us loud and clear. Mainstream [Democrats], we didn't address Southern Brooklyn voters strong enough.”</p> <p>“There was a well-funded Republican campaign that highlighted crime that certainly drove Republican votes in Southern Brooklyn,” said one Democratic consultant who wished to remain anonymous to speak more freely. “There was an effective messaging campaign by Republicans, whether it's fair or whether it's accurate is a different question…It's something that Democrats gotta figure out going forward to 2023 Council elections, 2024 legislative elections.”</p> <p>Brannan conceded that his party did not offer a positive vision that could oppose Republican fearmongering that peeled away a significant chunk of voters, particularly amid the sustained pandemic era increases in most major crimes. “We're losing to an opposition who has zero solutions,” he said. “We're losing to an opposition who was just pointing at things and saying that's a problem. But our party is not countering that with anything. We're not articulating a vision to counter that ‘world is going to hell’ narrative.”</p> <p>“The Democratic Party has to give more to the community than identity politics,” said George Sarantopoulos, who co-managed LaBella’s campaign with his wife, Heidi Chan-Sarantopoulos. “I think people are concerned in the district about crime. They're concerned about cost of living…They're worried about getting to work every day and going on the subway and getting robbed on the way coming back from work.”</p> <p>Sarantopoulos said it was natural that Chu would have significant support from Asian New Yorkers, particularly as she pitched herself becoming the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate. But Asian Americans also came out in support of LaBella, who is white, he said. “Obviously, our message resonated with a large portion of the Chinese community…I saw that in terms of voters, in terms of volunteers. Vito LaBella was embraced by a good portion of the community.”</p> <p>One of the issues on which Democrats have lost ground to Republicans is specialized high schools and gifted and talented programs. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to replace G&amp;T programs with a universal enrichment model and change admissions policies at the specialized high schools to increase enrollment of Black and Hispanic students, earning the ire of many Asian Americans. That backlash was felt at the polls last year and has continued into this year’s election, even though many Democrats did not support de Blasio’s efforts. “I think the gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools are not up for negotiation...It’s a deal-breaker for the Chinese community,” Sarantopoulos said.</p> <p>Chu said that the conversation around changing specialized high school admissions, which became a major focus for de Blasio in 2017, eroded “faith and trust about how the city government is serving us,” not just for Asian-American families but other immigrant communities in the district that see education as a crucial pathway for the next generation. “We need to prove to those voters…that not all Democrats are saying the same thing,” she said.</p> <p>While Mayor Adams reversed de Blasio’s plan to replace G&amp;T programs and even announced plans to expand on the current model, while also announcing opposition to changing specialized high school admissions and plans to open new specialized high schools, Republicans still successfully painted Democrats as a threat to the educational opportunities that many Asian New Yorkers prioritize.</p> <p>What was also clear from the election is that while the state and Brooklyn Democratic parties failed to step in, Governor Hochul ran an anemic campaign in Southern Brooklyn. “There were definitely a lot of voters in WeChat that supported just Republican candidates in general…very much unhappy with the current incumbent Democrat,” said Yiatin Chu, president of the Asian Wave Alliance, a group that endorsed both Republican and Democratic candidates in the election but favored the GOP. Yiatin Chu (no relation to Iwen Chu) is a close personal friend of LaBella and volunteered on his campaign.</p> <p>Yiatin Chu and the Asian Wave Alliance focused heavily on the issues of public safety and education, and on Asian turnout for many Republicans in the 2022 elections, from Zeldin to LaBella, as well as victorious or nearly-victorious Assembly candidates in Brooklyn and Queens.</p> <p>In Southern Brooklyn, Republican Lester Chang defeated longtime incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Abbate in the 49th District (though there are <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2022/11/republican-brooklyn-assembly-member-elect-voted-manhattan-last-year/379913/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">questions about Chang’s residency</a> that could endanger his victory); Democratic Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz lost to Republican challenger Michael Novakhov in the 45th District; and in District 46, incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus lost to her Republican opponent, Alec Brook-Krasny. In Flushing, Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, a Democrat, won his reelection by a margin of less than four points in a district that Zeldin narrowly carried against Hochul. And in Rockaway, Democrat Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato trails in her race by 246 votes.</p> <p>Even the newly minted state senator conceded that Democrats have failed to pay attention to issues that voters in the district have raised, particularly around public safety and changes to education systems. “We're the voice of the district. We represent the people. So I need to make sure my colleagues in the State Senate, in Albany, in government, they need to understand Southern Brooklyn here, we’ve been ignored far too long,” Iwen Chu said.</p> <p>Yiatin Chu said that key to Iwen Chu’s victory was her securing votes from many reliably Democratic voters, particularly outside the Chinese community. “But in terms of the unaffiliated, kind of the everyday parents, small business owners. They were not excited about her,” Yiatin Chu said. “It's kind of like the excitement for the first Asian woman in the Senate all came from outside the communities that she was running in.”</p> <p>The political battle for the new 17th State Senate District has just begun. Iwen Chu and Democrats now have two years till the next election to prove to constituents that the party has their best interests in mind and solutions to their woes.</p> <p>“We understand how the pandemic affected a lot of small businesses, immigrant businesses, how the pandemic increased a lot of Asian hate crime so that anyone in Southern Brooklyn who is Asian American, either directly themselves or someone they know has had a bad experience,” said Jay Brown, vice president of Bay Ridge Democrats, which endorsed Chu’s campaign. “So our side has plans to tackle those issues, and Iwen does, but that’s a nuanced conversation sometimes, how to attack those problems in a positive way.”</p> <p>“It's a lot easier to just kind of tout crime and instill fear. That's a quick and easy thing to do,” Brown said. “And it resonates with people because they feel it. So we knew that was a hurdle to overcome. And we've been seeing that the past few years that that's been, reverberating throughout the communities a bit.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/closer-look-win.jpg" /></p> <p>A rally for Iwen Chu, center (photo: @Iwen4NY)</p> <hr /> <p>This month, Iwen Chu became the first Asian-American woman elected to the New York State Senate, clinching an unexpectedly tight victory over Republican Vito LaBella. Starting in January, Chu will represent the 17th Senate District, a newly-created Asian-plurality district in Southern Brooklyn, redrawn in the recent redistricting process based on demographic trends in the 2020 Census, which saw Asian Americans as the fastest growing group in New York in the last ten years.</p> <p>Chu’s victory was hard fought, with a margin of just 215 votes as of November 21, and though going into the election she was expected to win fairly easily, she wound up defying the political headwinds by significantly outperforming the top of the Democratic ticket in neighborhoods that have been increasingly leaning towards Republicans over the last few years.</p> <p>The new 17th District, one of 63 Senate seats across the state, includes parts of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Kensington, and Dyker Heights, with a population that is 48.6% Asian, 29.3% white, and 18% Hispanic according to the CUNY Graduate Center’s <a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=sd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=sen_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-73.997,40.622#%26map=11.92/40.62822/-73.99621" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redistricting and You</a> project.</p> <p>The district is home to 69,884 registered Democrats, 18,645 Republicans, and 40,182 party-unaffiliated registered voters, according to <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/EnrollmentSD.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">State Board of Elections data</a> as of November 1. Even though Democrat Joe Biden won what is now the district by nearly 17 points over Republican President Donald Trump in the high turnout 2020 election, the district has been growing redder in other races, like for mayor and city and state legislative seats.</p> <p>As was readily apparent from this and past elections, portions of Southern Brooklyn are unlike much of the rest of the heavily Democratic borough. In the 2021 mayoral race, Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa carried much of the region over Eric Adams, and in this election, Republicans won three Assembly seats, unseating incumbent Democrats.</p> <p>In this year’s election, not only did Hochul win by a far narrower margin than the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the last four elections, but Democrats sustained significant defeats in Southern Brooklyn, on Long Island, and in the Hudson Valley. And though U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor, lost in all of Brooklyn to Governor Kathy Hochul by a margin of 28.3% to 70.8%, he handily won in Southern Brooklyn.</p> <p>The new 17th State Senate districts overlaps significantly with the smaller Assembly districts 47, 49, and 51, and slivers of Assembly Districts 44, 45, 46, and 64.</p> <p>Assembly Districts 47 and 49 cover the vast majority of Senate District 17 and include the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, with its large Asian-American population, Bath Beach, New Utrecht, and parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. Zeldin bested Hochul with 62% and 63% of the vote in those two Assembly districts, respectively. LaBella won those Assembly districts with smaller margins, 55% and 52% of the vote, respectively, meaning Chu was able to outrun Hochul by 7 and 11 points. However, in Assembly District 51, which covers Sunset Park and Red Hook, home to large Asian and Hispanic communities, Hochul won with 76.4% of the vote. Parts of that district in Sunset Park fall within the new Senate district and Chu won there with 71% of the vote, in essence providing her narrow overall margin of victory.</p> <p>Asian voters in Southern Brooklyn and parts of Queens have been voting more Republican in recent election cycles, and Chu had to win over many of them that were voting for Zeldin for governor in order to win her Senate race.</p> <p>Chu did have her advantages over LaBella, a former NYPD officer and education activist. She has long been involved in the local political arena, as a member of Community Board 11, a member of Community Education Council District 20, and most recently as former chief of staff to longtime Assemblymember Peter Abbate (who was among the Democratic incumbents defeated this year). Chu ran unopposed in the primary for the new open seat and was able to quickly garner widespread support from the Democratic political establishment, progressive groups, elected officials, political clubs, and labor unions across Brooklyn and beyond into the general election.</p> <p>Chu’s policy platform was comparable in parts to her opponent’s. “I believe education and public safety is not a party position. That's why even my opponent and I, on these two issues, we are very similar,” she said in a Monday interview. Chu supported changes to the state’s controversial bail laws to give judges more discretion in setting bail though LaBella’s positions went further – he was pushing for entirely reversing the state’s bail reforms, which eliminated cash bail for most nonviolent offenses.</p> <p>Both Chu and LaBella opposed efforts to replace gifted and talented programs in city schools and to drastically change admissions at the city's elite Specialized High Schools, issues that are particularly important to Asian American communities and on which Democrats have found themselves split.</p> <p>Chu also advocated for increased social services to tackle the root causes of crime, greater support for small businesses, including loans, grants, and language assistance programs,  increased resources for immigrant communities including legal assistance and poll site interpretation services, investments in street safety improvements, and increased affordable housing support.</p> <p>LaBella, meanwhile, also said he would push the governor to audit and fire any district attorneys who refuse to enforce the law, echoing a call from Republicans aimed specifically at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a reform-minded Democrat. LaBella also railed against Critical Race Theory, though it isn’t taught in city schools. In September, he landed in hot water after the <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-gop-candidate-vito-labella-hates-brooklyn-20220919-y6pssksr25fmfp7roqdxn5ouzy-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New York Daily News reported</a> on a video he posted last year from his summer home in Massachusetts, in which he said, “I just like it so much better here than Brooklyn. I hate fucking Brooklyn, I wish I never had to go back.”</p> <p>Though Chu, as a longtime participant in local politics and an Asian-American woman, had a ready constituency clamoring for representation in state government, she <a href="https://twitter.com/Iwen4NY/status/1585692222451814400?s=20&amp;t=AeHX2cKZ0-jnfU6f7ToLMA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">knew</a> the challenge she faced, having taken stock of the 2021 mayoral election. “We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned!,” she <a href="https://twitter.com/Iwen4NY/status/1585692222451814400" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tweeted</a> ahead of the election along with images of two maps showing how Sliwa performed well in the 2021 election alongside the contours of the new Senate district. She called for help from Democrats to ensure the seat would be theirs.</p> <p>“I knew the vote would be close, but I didn't think that close,” Chu said in the Monday interview.</p> <p>The issues that resonated with voters in the new 17th State Senate District were similar to those that Sliwa pounced on to win broad parts of the area: concerns about public safety, including rising anti-Asian hate crimes, and education, specifically preserving gifted and talented programs and test-based admissions to the city’s specialized high schools.</p> <p>“Safety concerns, it's definitely the number one topic no matter what language you speak or what background you're from. Everybody wants to feel safe,” Chu said.</p> <p>Some Democrats have long recognized that Southern Brooklyn voters go their own way and the Democrats there tend not to vote strictly along party lines. “We’ve never had blowout elections in Southern Brooklyn,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat whose current, outgoing district covered many of the neighborhoods of the new 17th. Gounardes himself flipped a seat from Republican to Democrat in the ‘blue wave’ 2018 elections.</p> <p>Gounardes placed no small amount of blame for losses and close calls on the state and county Democratic parties, which took a hands-off approach to the election that has incensed Democrats across the borough, city, state, and even country.</p> <p>“This election cycle, I didn't see a single bit of effort from the state party to invest in Southern Brooklyn. I didn't see any effort…barely an effort from the county party to help in southern Brooklyn,” he said of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which has been accused of failing to support its candidates while blaming them for their own defeats.</p> <p>Gounardes worries that without constant effort and attention from the party apparatus, “we will lose these neighborhoods for good. And I’m very concerned about that. because we have worked so hard to move the needle so far. And to see this work now being undone because we can't get the parties to pay attention is very disappointing.”</p> <p>“In the most Democratic county in the country, we should not be losing Democratic incumbents when the top of our ticket is winning,” he added.</p> <p>City Council Member Justin Brannan, a Bay Ridge Democrat who also narrowly won reelection last year, echoed Gounardes. “Southern Brooklyn has always been unique and complicated and often misunderstood or taken for granted,” he said. “Every cycle people seem to have amnesia about how close the general elections are in Southern Brooklyn and I certainly don’t enjoy saying, ‘I told you so’ but this is something that we've been sounding the alarm on for quite a while. The Democratic Party has all but completely lost large portions of voters in Southern Brooklyn who are now reliably voting Republican.”</p> <p>What most people agree on is that Democrats lost the rhetorical battle to Republicans on the issue of crime and public safety. Republicans repeatedly hammered away at rising crime rates, blaming Democratic policies for what they depicted as an out of control city and state, especially honing in on rising hate crimes against the Asian community. That message was largely consistent from local races up to the statewide level.</p> <p>“Campaign strategy-wise, Republicans, they do organize, they do,” Chu said. “Obviously, the voters took the message and then they sent the message to us loud and clear. Mainstream [Democrats], we didn't address Southern Brooklyn voters strong enough.”</p> <p>“There was a well-funded Republican campaign that highlighted crime that certainly drove Republican votes in Southern Brooklyn,” said one Democratic consultant who wished to remain anonymous to speak more freely. “There was an effective messaging campaign by Republicans, whether it's fair or whether it's accurate is a different question…It's something that Democrats gotta figure out going forward to 2023 Council elections, 2024 legislative elections.”</p> <p>Brannan conceded that his party did not offer a positive vision that could oppose Republican fearmongering that peeled away a significant chunk of voters, particularly amid the sustained pandemic era increases in most major crimes. “We're losing to an opposition who has zero solutions,” he said. “We're losing to an opposition who was just pointing at things and saying that's a problem. But our party is not countering that with anything. We're not articulating a vision to counter that ‘world is going to hell’ narrative.”</p> <p>“The Democratic Party has to give more to the community than identity politics,” said George Sarantopoulos, who co-managed LaBella’s campaign with his wife, Heidi Chan-Sarantopoulos. “I think people are concerned in the district about crime. They're concerned about cost of living…They're worried about getting to work every day and going on the subway and getting robbed on the way coming back from work.”</p> <p>Sarantopoulos said it was natural that Chu would have significant support from Asian New Yorkers, particularly as she pitched herself becoming the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate. But Asian Americans also came out in support of LaBella, who is white, he said. “Obviously, our message resonated with a large portion of the Chinese community…I saw that in terms of voters, in terms of volunteers. Vito LaBella was embraced by a good portion of the community.”</p> <p>One of the issues on which Democrats have lost ground to Republicans is specialized high schools and gifted and talented programs. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to replace G&amp;T programs with a universal enrichment model and change admissions policies at the specialized high schools to increase enrollment of Black and Hispanic students, earning the ire of many Asian Americans. That backlash was felt at the polls last year and has continued into this year’s election, even though many Democrats did not support de Blasio’s efforts. “I think the gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools are not up for negotiation...It’s a deal-breaker for the Chinese community,” Sarantopoulos said.</p> <p>Chu said that the conversation around changing specialized high school admissions, which became a major focus for de Blasio in 2017, eroded “faith and trust about how the city government is serving us,” not just for Asian-American families but other immigrant communities in the district that see education as a crucial pathway for the next generation. “We need to prove to those voters…that not all Democrats are saying the same thing,” she said.</p> <p>While Mayor Adams reversed de Blasio’s plan to replace G&amp;T programs and even announced plans to expand on the current model, while also announcing opposition to changing specialized high school admissions and plans to open new specialized high schools, Republicans still successfully painted Democrats as a threat to the educational opportunities that many Asian New Yorkers prioritize.</p> <p>What was also clear from the election is that while the state and Brooklyn Democratic parties failed to step in, Governor Hochul ran an anemic campaign in Southern Brooklyn. “There were definitely a lot of voters in WeChat that supported just Republican candidates in general…very much unhappy with the current incumbent Democrat,” said Yiatin Chu, president of the Asian Wave Alliance, a group that endorsed both Republican and Democratic candidates in the election but favored the GOP. Yiatin Chu (no relation to Iwen Chu) is a close personal friend of LaBella and volunteered on his campaign.</p> <p>Yiatin Chu and the Asian Wave Alliance focused heavily on the issues of public safety and education, and on Asian turnout for many Republicans in the 2022 elections, from Zeldin to LaBella, as well as victorious or nearly-victorious Assembly candidates in Brooklyn and Queens.</p> <p>In Southern Brooklyn, Republican Lester Chang defeated longtime incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Abbate in the 49th District (though there are <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2022/11/republican-brooklyn-assembly-member-elect-voted-manhattan-last-year/379913/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">questions about Chang’s residency</a> that could endanger his victory); Democratic Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz lost to Republican challenger Michael Novakhov in the 45th District; and in District 46, incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus lost to her Republican opponent, Alec Brook-Krasny. In Flushing, Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, a Democrat, won his reelection by a margin of less than four points in a district that Zeldin narrowly carried against Hochul. And in Rockaway, Democrat Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato trails in her race by 246 votes.</p> <p>Even the newly minted state senator conceded that Democrats have failed to pay attention to issues that voters in the district have raised, particularly around public safety and changes to education systems. “We're the voice of the district. We represent the people. So I need to make sure my colleagues in the State Senate, in Albany, in government, they need to understand Southern Brooklyn here, we’ve been ignored far too long,” Iwen Chu said.</p> <p>Yiatin Chu said that key to Iwen Chu’s victory was her securing votes from many reliably Democratic voters, particularly outside the Chinese community. “But in terms of the unaffiliated, kind of the everyday parents, small business owners. They were not excited about her,” Yiatin Chu said. “It's kind of like the excitement for the first Asian woman in the Senate all came from outside the communities that she was running in.”</p> <p>The political battle for the new 17th State Senate District has just begun. Iwen Chu and Democrats now have two years till the next election to prove to constituents that the party has their best interests in mind and solutions to their woes.</p> <p>“We understand how the pandemic affected a lot of small businesses, immigrant businesses, how the pandemic increased a lot of Asian hate crime so that anyone in Southern Brooklyn who is Asian American, either directly themselves or someone they know has had a bad experience,” said Jay Brown, vice president of Bay Ridge Democrats, which endorsed Chu’s campaign. “So our side has plans to tackle those issues, and Iwen does, but that’s a nuanced conversation sometimes, how to attack those problems in a positive way.”</p> <p>“It's a lot easier to just kind of tout crime and instill fear. That's a quick and easy thing to do,” Brown said. “And it resonates with people because they feel it. So we knew that was a hurdle to overcome. And we've been seeing that the past few years that that's been, reverberating throughout the communities a bit.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Despite State Budget Funding, Little Progress Bringing Psychiatric Beds Back Into Service 2022-11-28T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-28T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11696-ny-state-budget-little-progress-psychiatric-beds-hochul-adams Ethan Geringer-Sameth ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/3-des-state.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Hospital staff (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York State has made little progress bringing 1,000 shuttered psychiatric beds back into service after they were closed during the covid pandemic, raising questions about a signature element of the mental health and public safety agendas of Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.</p> <p>In the April budget, Hochul and the Legislature allocated $27.5 million in state funding, matched by federal dollars, to restore the roughly 1,050 psychiatric beds shifted at the height of the pandemic when hospitals scrambled to make room for the swell of COVID-19 patients. Since then, only about 200 psychiatric beds have come back into use, according to the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) – a number that has not moved since June. OMH did not provide a breakdown of where the 200 beds are located.</p> <p>According to OMH, nearly half the 850 defunct psychiatric beds are in New York City, where 415 remained offline as of September. Another 435 of the beds are closed outside the city, including 94 on Long Island, 141 in the "Hudson River Region," 61 in Central New York, and 139 in the western part of the state. ​There are currently roughly 5,800 licensed psychiatric beds in 97 hospitals across the state, and 3,300 more in New York's state-run psychiatric hospitals.</p> <p>The state expects New York City to add another 200 psychiatric beds "in the coming months," according to the Office of Mental Health. In response to Gotham Gazette inquiries, the governor's office did not comment on the apparent lack of progress since June.</p> <p>The beds have been central to the street safety plans Hochul and Adams have touted since January, policies aimed at beefing up police and mental health services, particularly underground, amid a string of high profile attacks committed by people with reported psychosis. According to the two leaders, psychiatric beds are a complement to their efforts to flood the city's public spaces with police officers, and to a lesser extent social workers – offering a helpful destination for those in severe need, who have often wound up on the streets and subways or in jail.</p> <p>Part of a larger formula backed by and enacted in partnership with Mayor Adams, the psychiatric beds were announced alongside increased police and outreach worker patrols. In the state budget deal of April Hochul also toughened the state's bail and discovery laws and expanded Kendra's Law – a statute that enables officials to obtain court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment.</p> <p>When announcing the state budget agreement on April 9, Hochul said, "There's an obligation on our part to not just make those kinds of changes, but to balance the other side of the equation as well. Invest in resources for those who need it most. Invest in the mental health structure infrastructure to give people what they need."</p> <p>"We are going to make sure that there are over 1,000 psychiatric beds available because there are people that need care, they need attention, they need to be on a path to recovery," Hochul continued. "And they can't get it as long as there's beds that are not available in a place that can be helpful to them."</p> <p>The psychiatric beds had been part of Adams' broader state budget ask when he testified before the Legislature in February, just before releasing his own preliminary budget.</p> <p>"It is urgent that we request the state’s immediate assistance in expanding the number of beds for those in critical need of mental health care, and funding for the medical and support staff they require," Adams told state lawmakers in February.</p> <p>"Too many of our fellow New Yorkers are cycled through temporary care and released before they are ready, often due to the limited availability of long-term support and housing," he testified.</p> <p>"That's crucial for us," Adams had said of restoring the psychiatric beds when he made his preliminary budget announcement in February, which included more funding for police officers and homeless-encampment clearing.</p> <p>"We're ending the era of tents. We're ending the era of sleeping on our subway system, with all your belongings, that era has ended in the city," Adams said. "But at the same time, we want to have additional help and giving people the mental help that they need."</p> <p>The $55 million total state and federal allocation would fund higher Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric beds that would bring them to the same levels as general medical beds.</p> <p>"Let's make up that differential," Hochul said at another subway safety announcement with Adams in October. "That's what our money from the state went towards. So there's not an incentive to have fewer psychiatric beds."</p> <p>But the higher reimbursement rates require federal approval, which is still pending, according to James Plastiras, a spokesperson for the state’s Office of Mental Health. None of the state allocation has been spent as of early November, meaning 200 psychiatric beds were restored at the existing Medicaid rate. Plastiras told Gotham Gazette the higher Medicaid reimbursement rates will be retroactive to April 1 once they receive federal approval.  </p> <p>“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, we are fully committed to providing a comprehensive array of services for any New Yorker experiencing a mental health crisis — including the unhoused," Plastiras wrote in a statement to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"We are embracing innovative approaches to help these individuals address their mental health issues in meaningful ways that will allow them to transition into stable housing in independent settings," he said, noting investments in community-based mental health services and a $12.5 million budget allocation to add 500 scatter-site supportive units, which include on-site services, to the state's housing portfolio.</p> <p>As of October, the state had not issued a request for proposals to initiate the supportive housing development, which includes services to support formerly-homeless individuals. According to Plastiras, one would be issued by the end of the year.</p> <p>The state was also <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11614-hochul-sos-teams-outreach-subways-mental-illness">slow to complete the rollout</a> of Hochul's Safe Option Support outreach teams, part of her first subway safety announcement with Adams in January, and it is unclear whether they have been effective in helping homeless individuals into permanent housing (after this article was published Plastiras told Gotham Gazette the teams have enrolled 500 individuals in some kind of service). And despite amending Kendra's Law, the new language was <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11506-hochul-adams-kendras-law-mental-health-court-order">not used as the basis of any court orders</a> in its first four months in effect, raising questions about implementation across the state.</p> <p>It is not a simple matter to open a psychiatric bed in a hospital. It requires unique configurations of space and staff. In the case of repurposing medical beds, there can be construction costs and capital needs to make them safe and appropriate for psychiatric patients.</p> <p>"All of this stuff they built into these rooms to take care of the [COVID-19] medical emergency needs to be undone," said Alison Burke, the vice president of regulatory and professional affairs at the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents 280 member hospitals, in an interview.</p> <p>Hospitals are also contending with staffing shortages that have become drastic during the pandemic. The state budget allocated another $9 million to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners with loan forgiveness. After a series of Gotham Gazette inquiries for this story, the governor’s office put out a press release on Wednesday, November 23 announcing the opening of applications for the program.<br /><br />"Community-based mental health care providers continue to be impacted by the nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, and the demand for psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners continues to grow,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan, in the press release. “The Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will help our partners meet this growing demand by helping to attract and retain these essential professionals." </p> <p>"We're confounded by the fact that we have workforce challenges," Burke of Greater New York Hospital Association told Gotham Gazette. </p> <p>The commitments to higher Medicaid rates and staffing retention were welcome to hospitals, even if they have been slow to materialize. "We're moving in the right direction. It's a very welcome and necessary investment," Burke said.</p> <p>As pandemic era crime increases came to define the 2022 election, as they had 2021 races in New York, Hochul emphasized the mental health funding she secured in the state budget alongside changes to the state's bail and outpatient treatment laws. In October, she joined Adams, and the heads of OMH, the MTA, and the NYPD to announce another phase in their subway safety strategy that she dubbed, "Cops, Cameras, and Care."</p> <p>The plan included dispatching 1,200 more police officers to subways, installing surveillance cameras in every subway car, and opening up 50 new psychiatric beds, dedicated to homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses. Even with ridership up, Hochul, Adams, and their appointees said the public perception of danger is high, driven by unstable passengers and fare-beaters who they claim have a propensity for more serious offenses.</p> <p>"It's not just stats. We can give you stats all day. The question is how do New Yorkers feel? We must match the actual impacts with how New Yorkers feel on the streets and in the subway system," Adams said.</p> <p>"That's why the omnipresence of police officers and the removal of those who are dealing with mental health issues is crucial to our second phase of this important plan," the mayor said.</p> <p>Asked to respond to the halting restoration of psychiatric beds despite the state budget allocation and promise of 1,050 beds back into service, a spokesperson for Adams referred Gotham Gazette to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).</p> <p>"All of us – federal, state, city and service providers – are working day and night to improve our system of care for people living with mental illness. We are introducing new and innovative strategies to ensure that we can overcome decades of underinvestment and neglect to meet the incredible needs of the moment," DOHMH spokesperson Patrick Gallahue said by email.</p> <p>The 50 psychiatric beds are separate from the 1,000 accounted for in the state budget, <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-care/new-york-invests-17m-new-programs-severely-mentally-ill-homeless">funded with $10 million from the state's general fund</a>, Crain's New York reported. The first of two new 25-bed "Transition to Home" units opened on November 1 at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, according to OMH. The office also plans to seek contract bids for a <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-care/new-york-invests-17m-new-programs-severely-mentally-ill-homeless">$7.3 million</a> residential step-down program that will offer short-term housing with services to help individuals transition to more independent living.</p> <p>At the time of the announcement, Adams said the NYPD had removed 1,500 "emotionally disturbed persons" from the subway during the calendar year "to prevent some form of incident from taking place." It is unclear whether those individuals were charged with a crime or where they ended up; a series of city agencies did not respond to inquiries other than to refer Gotham Gazette to another city agency.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/3-des-state.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Hospital staff (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York State has made little progress bringing 1,000 shuttered psychiatric beds back into service after they were closed during the covid pandemic, raising questions about a signature element of the mental health and public safety agendas of Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.</p> <p>In the April budget, Hochul and the Legislature allocated $27.5 million in state funding, matched by federal dollars, to restore the roughly 1,050 psychiatric beds shifted at the height of the pandemic when hospitals scrambled to make room for the swell of COVID-19 patients. Since then, only about 200 psychiatric beds have come back into use, according to the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) – a number that has not moved since June. OMH did not provide a breakdown of where the 200 beds are located.</p> <p>According to OMH, nearly half the 850 defunct psychiatric beds are in New York City, where 415 remained offline as of September. Another 435 of the beds are closed outside the city, including 94 on Long Island, 141 in the "Hudson River Region," 61 in Central New York, and 139 in the western part of the state. ​There are currently roughly 5,800 licensed psychiatric beds in 97 hospitals across the state, and 3,300 more in New York's state-run psychiatric hospitals.</p> <p>The state expects New York City to add another 200 psychiatric beds "in the coming months," according to the Office of Mental Health. In response to Gotham Gazette inquiries, the governor's office did not comment on the apparent lack of progress since June.</p> <p>The beds have been central to the street safety plans Hochul and Adams have touted since January, policies aimed at beefing up police and mental health services, particularly underground, amid a string of high profile attacks committed by people with reported psychosis. According to the two leaders, psychiatric beds are a complement to their efforts to flood the city's public spaces with police officers, and to a lesser extent social workers – offering a helpful destination for those in severe need, who have often wound up on the streets and subways or in jail.</p> <p>Part of a larger formula backed by and enacted in partnership with Mayor Adams, the psychiatric beds were announced alongside increased police and outreach worker patrols. In the state budget deal of April Hochul also toughened the state's bail and discovery laws and expanded Kendra's Law – a statute that enables officials to obtain court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment.</p> <p>When announcing the state budget agreement on April 9, Hochul said, "There's an obligation on our part to not just make those kinds of changes, but to balance the other side of the equation as well. Invest in resources for those who need it most. Invest in the mental health structure infrastructure to give people what they need."</p> <p>"We are going to make sure that there are over 1,000 psychiatric beds available because there are people that need care, they need attention, they need to be on a path to recovery," Hochul continued. "And they can't get it as long as there's beds that are not available in a place that can be helpful to them."</p> <p>The psychiatric beds had been part of Adams' broader state budget ask when he testified before the Legislature in February, just before releasing his own preliminary budget.</p> <p>"It is urgent that we request the state’s immediate assistance in expanding the number of beds for those in critical need of mental health care, and funding for the medical and support staff they require," Adams told state lawmakers in February.</p> <p>"Too many of our fellow New Yorkers are cycled through temporary care and released before they are ready, often due to the limited availability of long-term support and housing," he testified.</p> <p>"That's crucial for us," Adams had said of restoring the psychiatric beds when he made his preliminary budget announcement in February, which included more funding for police officers and homeless-encampment clearing.</p> <p>"We're ending the era of tents. We're ending the era of sleeping on our subway system, with all your belongings, that era has ended in the city," Adams said. "But at the same time, we want to have additional help and giving people the mental help that they need."</p> <p>The $55 million total state and federal allocation would fund higher Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric beds that would bring them to the same levels as general medical beds.</p> <p>"Let's make up that differential," Hochul said at another subway safety announcement with Adams in October. "That's what our money from the state went towards. So there's not an incentive to have fewer psychiatric beds."</p> <p>But the higher reimbursement rates require federal approval, which is still pending, according to James Plastiras, a spokesperson for the state’s Office of Mental Health. None of the state allocation has been spent as of early November, meaning 200 psychiatric beds were restored at the existing Medicaid rate. Plastiras told Gotham Gazette the higher Medicaid reimbursement rates will be retroactive to April 1 once they receive federal approval.  </p> <p>“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, we are fully committed to providing a comprehensive array of services for any New Yorker experiencing a mental health crisis — including the unhoused," Plastiras wrote in a statement to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"We are embracing innovative approaches to help these individuals address their mental health issues in meaningful ways that will allow them to transition into stable housing in independent settings," he said, noting investments in community-based mental health services and a $12.5 million budget allocation to add 500 scatter-site supportive units, which include on-site services, to the state's housing portfolio.</p> <p>As of October, the state had not issued a request for proposals to initiate the supportive housing development, which includes services to support formerly-homeless individuals. According to Plastiras, one would be issued by the end of the year.</p> <p>The state was also <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11614-hochul-sos-teams-outreach-subways-mental-illness">slow to complete the rollout</a> of Hochul's Safe Option Support outreach teams, part of her first subway safety announcement with Adams in January, and it is unclear whether they have been effective in helping homeless individuals into permanent housing (after this article was published Plastiras told Gotham Gazette the teams have enrolled 500 individuals in some kind of service). And despite amending Kendra's Law, the new language was <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11506-hochul-adams-kendras-law-mental-health-court-order">not used as the basis of any court orders</a> in its first four months in effect, raising questions about implementation across the state.</p> <p>It is not a simple matter to open a psychiatric bed in a hospital. It requires unique configurations of space and staff. In the case of repurposing medical beds, there can be construction costs and capital needs to make them safe and appropriate for psychiatric patients.</p> <p>"All of this stuff they built into these rooms to take care of the [COVID-19] medical emergency needs to be undone," said Alison Burke, the vice president of regulatory and professional affairs at the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents 280 member hospitals, in an interview.</p> <p>Hospitals are also contending with staffing shortages that have become drastic during the pandemic. The state budget allocated another $9 million to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners with loan forgiveness. After a series of Gotham Gazette inquiries for this story, the governor’s office put out a press release on Wednesday, November 23 announcing the opening of applications for the program.<br /><br />"Community-based mental health care providers continue to be impacted by the nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, and the demand for psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners continues to grow,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan, in the press release. “The Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will help our partners meet this growing demand by helping to attract and retain these essential professionals." </p> <p>"We're confounded by the fact that we have workforce challenges," Burke of Greater New York Hospital Association told Gotham Gazette. </p> <p>The commitments to higher Medicaid rates and staffing retention were welcome to hospitals, even if they have been slow to materialize. "We're moving in the right direction. It's a very welcome and necessary investment," Burke said.</p> <p>As pandemic era crime increases came to define the 2022 election, as they had 2021 races in New York, Hochul emphasized the mental health funding she secured in the state budget alongside changes to the state's bail and outpatient treatment laws. In October, she joined Adams, and the heads of OMH, the MTA, and the NYPD to announce another phase in their subway safety strategy that she dubbed, "Cops, Cameras, and Care."</p> <p>The plan included dispatching 1,200 more police officers to subways, installing surveillance cameras in every subway car, and opening up 50 new psychiatric beds, dedicated to homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses. Even with ridership up, Hochul, Adams, and their appointees said the public perception of danger is high, driven by unstable passengers and fare-beaters who they claim have a propensity for more serious offenses.</p> <p>"It's not just stats. We can give you stats all day. The question is how do New Yorkers feel? We must match the actual impacts with how New Yorkers feel on the streets and in the subway system," Adams said.</p> <p>"That's why the omnipresence of police officers and the removal of those who are dealing with mental health issues is crucial to our second phase of this important plan," the mayor said.</p> <p>Asked to respond to the halting restoration of psychiatric beds despite the state budget allocation and promise of 1,050 beds back into service, a spokesperson for Adams referred Gotham Gazette to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).</p> <p>"All of us – federal, state, city and service providers – are working day and night to improve our system of care for people living with mental illness. We are introducing new and innovative strategies to ensure that we can overcome decades of underinvestment and neglect to meet the incredible needs of the moment," DOHMH spokesperson Patrick Gallahue said by email.</p> <p>The 50 psychiatric beds are separate from the 1,000 accounted for in the state budget, <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-care/new-york-invests-17m-new-programs-severely-mentally-ill-homeless">funded with $10 million from the state's general fund</a>, Crain's New York reported. The first of two new 25-bed "Transition to Home" units opened on November 1 at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, according to OMH. The office also plans to seek contract bids for a <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-care/new-york-invests-17m-new-programs-severely-mentally-ill-homeless">$7.3 million</a> residential step-down program that will offer short-term housing with services to help individuals transition to more independent living.</p> <p>At the time of the announcement, Adams said the NYPD had removed 1,500 "emotionally disturbed persons" from the subway during the calendar year "to prevent some form of incident from taking place." It is unclear whether those individuals were charged with a crime or where they ended up; a series of city agencies did not respond to inquiries other than to refer Gotham Gazette to another city agency.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Max Politics Podcast: After a Disappointing Election, What's Next for New York Democrats 2022-11-18T13:00:00+00:00 2022-11-18T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11690-max-politics-podcast-disappointing-2022-election-whats-next-new-york-democrats-hochul-jacobs Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/jwilliams-next-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>A pre-election Democratic rally (photo: @nydems)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 17, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: After a Disappointing Election, What's Next for New York Democrats<br /></strong></p> <p>L. Joy Williams, a Democratic strategist, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, and host of Sunday Civics, joined the show to break down the 2022 election results and discuss what's next for the New York State Democratic Party and Brooklyn Democratic Party, Gov. Kathy Hochul, bridging divides among Democrats' progressive and establishment wings, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11690-max-politics-podcast-disappointing-2022-election-whats-next-new-york-democrats-hochul-jacobs">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/jwilliams-next-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>A pre-election Democratic rally (photo: @nydems)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 17, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: After a Disappointing Election, What's Next for New York Democrats<br /></strong></p> <p>L. Joy Williams, a Democratic strategist, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, and host of Sunday Civics, joined the show to break down the 2022 election results and discuss what's next for the New York State Democratic Party and Brooklyn Democratic Party, Gov. Kathy Hochul, bridging divides among Democrats' progressive and establishment wings, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11690-max-politics-podcast-disappointing-2022-election-whats-next-new-york-democrats-hochul-jacobs">Read More ...</a></p> Max Politics Podcast: Joe Borelli on New York Republicans' Strong 2022 Election and What Comes Next 2022-11-17T14:00:00+00:00 2022-11-17T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11689-max-politics-podcast-republicans-strong-2022-electio-new-york Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/joe-b-wgop-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 17, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Why Republicans Had Such a Good Election in New York<br /></strong></p> <p>Republican Joe Borelli, City Council minority leader and a major booster of Lee Zeldin for Governor, joined the show to discuss the New York GOP's strong showing in the 2022 elections — how it happened, what it means, and what comes next.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11689-max-politics-podcast-republicans-strong-2022-electio-new-york">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/joe-b-wgop-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 17, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Why Republicans Had Such a Good Election in New York<br /></strong></p> <p>Republican Joe Borelli, City Council minority leader and a major booster of Lee Zeldin for Governor, joined the show to discuss the New York GOP's strong showing in the 2022 elections — how it happened, what it means, and what comes next.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11689-max-politics-podcast-republicans-strong-2022-electio-new-york">Read More ...</a></p> New York Overpaid $194 Million for Medicaid During the Pandemic, Comptroller Audit Finds 2022-11-17T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-17T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11692-new-york-overpaid-medicaid-pandemic-comptroller-audit Ethan Geringer-Sameth ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/overpaid-194-million.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Then-Gov. Cuomo holds a health care meeting (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York State overpaid more than $194 million in Medicaid payments during the pandemic after state officials failed to move eligible recipients to a cheaper funding plan, according to the Office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.</p> <p>An audit of Medicaid payments from March 2021 to March 2022 found the state Department of Health continued to pay higher premiums to care management organizations even after receiving federal authorization to move some Medicaid recipients to a different plan at a fraction of the cost.</p> <p>“My latest audit of Medicaid uncovered yet another example of millions of dollars in wasteful spending," said DiNapoli, in a statement to Gotham Gazette about the audit being released Thursday. "This time, the state Department of Health’s failure to make sure recipients were enrolled in the correct health care coverage, resulted in over $194 million in over payments. My office continues to monitor the system, but critical changes are needed."</p> <p>The audit report, which was sent to DOH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on October 31 and reviewed by Gotham Gazette, urges the health department to review and recover the excessive payments and continue to move eligible recipients from coordinated care plans to cheaper fee-for-service coverage.</p> <p>The recommendations are not binding. DOH has 180 days to respond to the comptroller, the governor, and legislative leaders with steps the department has taken to meet the recommendations or explain why it has not.</p> <p>The department, in initial responses to DiNapoli's recommendations, which were included in his report, and in a statement to Gotham Gazette, has maintained its decision to leave eligible recipients in more expensive managed care plans was essential to avoid service interruptions.</p> <p>The state's Medicaid program provides medical coverage for 7.8 million impoverished New Yorkers and individuals with special health needs. It is funded by a mix of federal, state, and local sources with Washington covering about 57% and DOH administering the program. In the last fiscal year, New York's Medicaid claims cost $74.6 billion.</p> <p>The state's coverage calculus is embedded in layers of payment programs that the federal government flexed at the height of the pandemic to help ensure New Yorkers kept their insurance. The comptroller's report suggests DOH officials failed to take advantage of the additional flexibility during a period of economic instability and regime change in the department and the governor's mansion (Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose Medicaid Redesign initiative established the managed care model for Medicaid recipients in New York, resigned in August 2021).</p> <p>In general, the state pays for Medicaid in one of two ways. Medicaid recipients may be enrolled in managed care, meaning the state pays a premium to an organization that coordinates care and reimburses providers for their services. Alternatively, the state may pay providers directly on a fee-for-service basis.</p> <p>For Medicaid recipients who also become eligible for Medicare coverage because they reach the age of 65 or have certain disabilities, the arithmetic pushes some managed care premiums higher than the deductibles and coinsurance the state would pay under a fee-for-service plan.</p> <p>Prior to the pandemic, DOH was disenrolling these so-called dual-eligible recipients from two managed care programs with higher premiums and moving them to lower-cost fee-for-service plans.</p> <p>With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which increased federal assistance to state Medicaid programs that maintained managed care coverage for people enrolled in the program during the state of emergency. DOH paused disenrollments to receive the increase.</p> <p>In November 2020, federal regulations changed again to allow states to cancel managed care coverage as long as they continued to cover essential services through programs like fee-for-service. But DOH did not restart managed care disenrollment and continued to pay higher prices than it had to.</p> <p>During the comptroller's audit period, the state implemented yet another program that would lower managed care premiums for one subset of beneficiaries – dually-eligible Medicaid-Medicare enrollees who do not need long-term care – in order to make it more cost-effective than fee-for-service. The program, called "IB-DUAL," lowered the average monthly premium by more than $800 per recipient during the course of the audit.</p> <p>In total, the Comptroller's Office identified $190.6 million in excessive payments for Medicaid recipients who continued to be enrolled despite being ineligible for the lower-premiums of IB-DUAL. The comptroller found another $3.5 million in over-payments for recipients who were eligible but not enrolled in the IB-DUAL program.</p> <p>In one case identified in the report, the state over 13 months paid an additional $85,000 for a single patient who was ineligible to remain in managed care under IB-DUAL but was not moved to fee-for-service. In total, New York made 667,000 monthly premium payments for Medicaid recipients who should have been moved to a fee-for-service plan, the comptroller said.</p> <p>According to responses from DOH to the Comptroller's Office included in the report, the department continued with managed care enrollment for ineligible clients "in an effort to maintain continuity of care and services for this vulnerable population" as it prepared to launch the IB-DUAL program. It was ​​also "part of a broader Department strategy to encourage enrollment of dual-eligible individuals into integrated care options," according to the DOH reply submitted by Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Kristin Proud.</p> <p>But the vast majority of overpayment was for individuals who were not eligible to participate in IB-DUAL because they failed to meet other program requirements. The comptroller's report called DOH's statement "misleading."</p> <p>DOH still has not resumed disenrolling managed care recipients who are ineligible for IB-DUAL, according to the report.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit fails to recognize that all disenrollments were halted effective March 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, wrote DOH spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"In Nov. 2020, CMS granted states the option to restart disenrollments as they found appropriate so as not to put any undue hardship on members," Hammond continued. "The Department made the decision to allow Medicare members to remain enrolled in their Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) plan through the duration of the [public health emergency] to avoid potential disruption in care on the part of Medicaid members.</p> <p>"To reflect this decision, the managed care premiums have been reduced to reflect the lower average cost of duals to the Medicaid program as Medicare is the primary payer,” he added.</p> <p>DOH would not say what further steps have been taken toward DiNapoli's recommendations, including moving remaining recipients who are not eligible for IB-DUAL from managed care to fee-for-service plans.  </p> <p>The release of the comptroller’s Medicaid audit comes on the heels of another audit from DiNapoli showing the state paid <a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2022/11/dinapoli-problems-caused-outdated-system-left-states-unemployment-insurance-program-vulnerable-fraud">$11 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance</a> claims in the first year of the covid state of emergency, in large part due to failures by the Cuomo administration to update its unemployment insurance systems despite repeated warnings that it was out of date going back many years.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/overpaid-194-million.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Then-Gov. Cuomo holds a health care meeting (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York State overpaid more than $194 million in Medicaid payments during the pandemic after state officials failed to move eligible recipients to a cheaper funding plan, according to the Office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.</p> <p>An audit of Medicaid payments from March 2021 to March 2022 found the state Department of Health continued to pay higher premiums to care management organizations even after receiving federal authorization to move some Medicaid recipients to a different plan at a fraction of the cost.</p> <p>“My latest audit of Medicaid uncovered yet another example of millions of dollars in wasteful spending," said DiNapoli, in a statement to Gotham Gazette about the audit being released Thursday. "This time, the state Department of Health’s failure to make sure recipients were enrolled in the correct health care coverage, resulted in over $194 million in over payments. My office continues to monitor the system, but critical changes are needed."</p> <p>The audit report, which was sent to DOH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on October 31 and reviewed by Gotham Gazette, urges the health department to review and recover the excessive payments and continue to move eligible recipients from coordinated care plans to cheaper fee-for-service coverage.</p> <p>The recommendations are not binding. DOH has 180 days to respond to the comptroller, the governor, and legislative leaders with steps the department has taken to meet the recommendations or explain why it has not.</p> <p>The department, in initial responses to DiNapoli's recommendations, which were included in his report, and in a statement to Gotham Gazette, has maintained its decision to leave eligible recipients in more expensive managed care plans was essential to avoid service interruptions.</p> <p>The state's Medicaid program provides medical coverage for 7.8 million impoverished New Yorkers and individuals with special health needs. It is funded by a mix of federal, state, and local sources with Washington covering about 57% and DOH administering the program. In the last fiscal year, New York's Medicaid claims cost $74.6 billion.</p> <p>The state's coverage calculus is embedded in layers of payment programs that the federal government flexed at the height of the pandemic to help ensure New Yorkers kept their insurance. The comptroller's report suggests DOH officials failed to take advantage of the additional flexibility during a period of economic instability and regime change in the department and the governor's mansion (Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose Medicaid Redesign initiative established the managed care model for Medicaid recipients in New York, resigned in August 2021).</p> <p>In general, the state pays for Medicaid in one of two ways. Medicaid recipients may be enrolled in managed care, meaning the state pays a premium to an organization that coordinates care and reimburses providers for their services. Alternatively, the state may pay providers directly on a fee-for-service basis.</p> <p>For Medicaid recipients who also become eligible for Medicare coverage because they reach the age of 65 or have certain disabilities, the arithmetic pushes some managed care premiums higher than the deductibles and coinsurance the state would pay under a fee-for-service plan.</p> <p>Prior to the pandemic, DOH was disenrolling these so-called dual-eligible recipients from two managed care programs with higher premiums and moving them to lower-cost fee-for-service plans.</p> <p>With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which increased federal assistance to state Medicaid programs that maintained managed care coverage for people enrolled in the program during the state of emergency. DOH paused disenrollments to receive the increase.</p> <p>In November 2020, federal regulations changed again to allow states to cancel managed care coverage as long as they continued to cover essential services through programs like fee-for-service. But DOH did not restart managed care disenrollment and continued to pay higher prices than it had to.</p> <p>During the comptroller's audit period, the state implemented yet another program that would lower managed care premiums for one subset of beneficiaries – dually-eligible Medicaid-Medicare enrollees who do not need long-term care – in order to make it more cost-effective than fee-for-service. The program, called "IB-DUAL," lowered the average monthly premium by more than $800 per recipient during the course of the audit.</p> <p>In total, the Comptroller's Office identified $190.6 million in excessive payments for Medicaid recipients who continued to be enrolled despite being ineligible for the lower-premiums of IB-DUAL. The comptroller found another $3.5 million in over-payments for recipients who were eligible but not enrolled in the IB-DUAL program.</p> <p>In one case identified in the report, the state over 13 months paid an additional $85,000 for a single patient who was ineligible to remain in managed care under IB-DUAL but was not moved to fee-for-service. In total, New York made 667,000 monthly premium payments for Medicaid recipients who should have been moved to a fee-for-service plan, the comptroller said.</p> <p>According to responses from DOH to the Comptroller's Office included in the report, the department continued with managed care enrollment for ineligible clients "in an effort to maintain continuity of care and services for this vulnerable population" as it prepared to launch the IB-DUAL program. It was ​​also "part of a broader Department strategy to encourage enrollment of dual-eligible individuals into integrated care options," according to the DOH reply submitted by Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Kristin Proud.</p> <p>But the vast majority of overpayment was for individuals who were not eligible to participate in IB-DUAL because they failed to meet other program requirements. The comptroller's report called DOH's statement "misleading."</p> <p>DOH still has not resumed disenrolling managed care recipients who are ineligible for IB-DUAL, according to the report.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit fails to recognize that all disenrollments were halted effective March 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, wrote DOH spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"In Nov. 2020, CMS granted states the option to restart disenrollments as they found appropriate so as not to put any undue hardship on members," Hammond continued. "The Department made the decision to allow Medicare members to remain enrolled in their Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) plan through the duration of the [public health emergency] to avoid potential disruption in care on the part of Medicaid members.</p> <p>"To reflect this decision, the managed care premiums have been reduced to reflect the lower average cost of duals to the Medicaid program as Medicare is the primary payer,” he added.</p> <p>DOH would not say what further steps have been taken toward DiNapoli's recommendations, including moving remaining recipients who are not eligible for IB-DUAL from managed care to fee-for-service plans.  </p> <p>The release of the comptroller’s Medicaid audit comes on the heels of another audit from DiNapoli showing the state paid <a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2022/11/dinapoli-problems-caused-outdated-system-left-states-unemployment-insurance-program-vulnerable-fraud">$11 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance</a> claims in the first year of the covid state of emergency, in large part due to failures by the Cuomo administration to update its unemployment insurance systems despite repeated warnings that it was out of date going back many years.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
There's a Lot of Finger-Pointing Around New York Redistricting; What Actually Happened? 2022-11-16T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-16T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11685-explainer-new-york-redistricting-story-cuomo-congress Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/theres-a-lot.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, 2013 (photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats in New York are stinging from a rough 2022 election showing in which they lost several congressional seats to Republicans, potentially costing the party control of the U.S. House of Representatives. As they assign blame, many have pointed to a tumultuous redistricting precipitated by a broken state process, state legislative leaders who overreached in trying to draw overly partisan lines, a Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of Republicans, and former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose political machinations laid the foundations for that chaos to unfold.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the end, New York’s 26 new congressional districts were drawn by a court-appointed “special master,” who crafted highly-competitive lines for this year’s elections and the coming decade until the next U.S. Census and redistricting process. While Democrats were able to exceed expectations in many places across the country, they under-performed in New York, leading some to call recriminations of the state’s redistricting process a distraction from the central point of campaign failures of Democrats and successes of Republicans in New York.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Democrats here and nationally had been counting on favorable New York congressional lines to counteract Republican gerrymandering elsewhere. And in the wake of the party’s losses across a number of New York districts and likely in the final overall House tally, many fingers are being pointed at the state’s redistricting process. So what actually happened?</span></p> <p><b>The 2020 Census and a 2012 Compromise<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The state’s redistricting began in earnest with the 2020 Census, when an anemic state outreach operation hobbled by Cuomo meant that New York </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/nyregion/new-york-census-congress.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">lost one congressional seat</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, falling just 89 residents short (The U.S. Census did find later, however, that New York was among eight states where the population may have been </span><a href="https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-post-enumeration-survey.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">overcounted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the Census estimate.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York’s House representation would fall from 27 to 26 seats, mostly because of a loss of population upstate, and an even more drastic redrawing of the districts would be necessary. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York was also set to undertake a new, untested redistricting process that ultimately resulted in chaos.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2012, Governor Cuomo, Democrats who controlled the State Assembly, and Republicans who controlled the State Senate reached an agreement to ostensibly reform redistricting to make it bipartisan and “independent,” putting it in the hands of a ten-member Independent Redistricting Commission. The commission would be tasked with taking into account population trends and various federal and state requirements, and drawing new district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If the State Legislature rejected two consecutive proposals from the commission, it would then take over the drawing of new lines itself, a backdrop that was criticized at the time of the deal. Still, some saw promise in the new layers of independence and transparency, as well as attached anti-gerrymandering language.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The compromise was passed by two consecutive classes of the Legislature and put before voters. In a 2014 ballot referendum, New Yorkers approved by a 57.7-42.3% margin the state constitution amendment to adopt the new process and related requirements.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But even if elements of the new system signified progress, many critics presciently said the commission was designed to fail. Composed of four members appointed by Democratic legislative leaders and four by Republican leaders, plus two independent members chosen by a majority of the other eight, it was apt to deadlock on its proposed new district lines instead of finding consensus. This was especially likely if there were new political incentives at play, like one party controlling both houses of the Legislature. And that is exactly what happened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Through wins in the 2018 and 2020 state legislative elections, Democrats took supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, meaning less incentive for compromise from representatives of either party — Democrats with an eye on letting the Legislature craft new state legislative and congressional district maps and Republicans with an eye toward getting the map-drawing process decided by the courts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That newfound power in hand, Democrats sought to alter the redistricting process ahead of its first implementation. They sought to pass an amendment to the state constitution last year that would have allowed the IRC to appoint two co-executive directors by simple majority vote, frozen the number of state Senators at 63, require that State Assembly and Senate district lines be based on the total state population, count incarcerated people at their place of last residence, change the voting thresholds for approving redistricting maps, and, crucially, let the Legislature take over the process of adopting new maps if the IRC fails to vote on any plans by the set deadline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the referendum to do so, which they placed on the November 2021 ballot, was rejected by voters, with 54% voting against and 45% voting in favor. In the low turnout election highlighted by local races, conservatives mounted a major campaign to defeat that and other ballot referendums that would expand voting access, while Democrats did nothing to promote them and secure voter approval.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Legislature then passed and Governor Hochul signed a law that would accomplish the same goals as the proposed ballot question by amending the 2012 Redistricting Reform Act. But in a court ruling on redistricting, Judge Partrick McAllister found the law “substantially altered the constitution,” a step that could only be taken through a constitutional amendment and not through legislation, striking it down.</span></p> <p><b>The Independent Redistricting Commission Gets to Work, Chaos Ensues<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seven years and a political lifetime after the redistricting amendment was approved by voters, the Independent Redistricting Commission began its work in mid-2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After six months of meetings and public hearings, the commission broke into two factions along partisan lines, and each proposed separate plans in January of this year, voting 5-5 in both cases. The plans then headed to the State Legislature, where any successful proposal would have required a two-thirds vote in both chambers to pass. Both proposals failed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The onus returned to the commission to create new maps, but the commission again deadlocked and, crucially, did so without passing any map proposals at all. After that, the Legislature took over the process of redrawing district lines. As was later decided in court, that did not follow the prescribed constitutional process, but the Legislature did not compel the commission to pass something for it to consider.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), ready for the possibility, quickly drew new maps. Under the maps adopted by the Democrat-dominated Legislature and signed into law by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul on February 3, the party would have held an advantage in 22 out of New York’s 26 congressional districts, allowing them to potentially grow their conference by three seats.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new New York map would have the potential to counteract Republican gerrymandering elsewhere in the country in the national fight for control of the House. But the design also made the map ripe for a legal challenge, especially given the anti-gerrymandering language in the state constitution thanks to the 2014 amendment, which explicitly stated that “districts shall not be drawn to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new maps were quickly challenged in court, with Republican opponents arguing in a lawsuit filed strategically in Republican-heavy Steuben County in March that the Legislature did not have the authority to draw new maps for the Legislature or Congress because the commission had never passed a second map to be disapproved in the first place, and also that the congressional map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Steuben County Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister ruled in favor of the Republican lawsuit on April 1 and struck down the Democrat-created maps. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">McAllister even said in his ruling that the Independent Redistricting Commission could have been legally compelled to issue a second set of maps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is nothing in the constitution that permits the IRC to just throw up their collective hands…Here the IRC stopped working well before its deadline,” he </span><a href="https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=bJrLd/3rP9tGN_PLUS_5c3T0QpA==" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">wrote in his order</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “What someone should have done was bring an action to compel the members of the IRC to continue their work or for the political sides of the legislatures that appointed 8 of the 10 members of the IRC to remove and replace any IRC member that did not embrace his/her constitutional role.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The judge also gave the Legislature an opportunity to submit revised maps that would not require unanimous support but “must enjoy a reasonable amount of bipartisan support to insure the constitutional process is protected.” Democrats chose not to avail themselves of that opportunity, however, banking on their appeal to a more Democrat-friendly court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats appealed the decision but the state’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, ruled against them on April 27 and instead appointed a special master to draw more neutral maps that would encourage competitive elections.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That process was overseen by Judge McAllister, who also delayed the primary election for Congress and State Senate by two months, moving it from June to August to allow time for the maps to be drawn and candidates to campaign in the new districts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee then attempted to back a challenge against that delay in federal court but was denied and Judge Gary Sharpe of the Northern District of New York ruled on May 10 that those primaries would indeed be pushed from June 28 to August 23. (The statewide and Assembly primaries remained in June.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On May 16, Jonathan Cervas, the court-appointed special master, </span><a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/16/23075226/special-master-new-york-city-redistricting-maps" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">proposed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> new district lines that threw the Democratic Party into turmoil. According to the </span><a href="https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=UG9c3UUUXdg6wEXou62Azw==&amp;system=prod&amp;TSPD_101_R0=08533cd43fab20001565a6c2e80262c87dc518e10d1cb23f8cd4b2feca28c684b3bd5d0b69b3431c0819e630a41430003d3c2452a3de69845a660ca04393b2870919a2081b1770b8fee8b645ffceb98a1788db72bb98dd5c83b142e957c6f65f" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">court filing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, it created eight competitive congressional districts (instead of three under the legislative proposal, and in reality there were more this year) and, in some cases, it led to incumbent Democrats being pitted against each other. “Both the congressional and state senate maps have a substantial number of competitive seats (far more than in the unconstitutional maps) and are going</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">to be responsive to the public will,” Cervas wrote in his report on the final maps. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On May 20, Cervas submitted new maps with minor alterations that were </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/21/nyregion/redistrict-map-nadler-maloney.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">approved</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by Judge McAllister. The final maps, he wrote, “remain almost perfectly neutral, meaning the maps do not favor or disfavor any political party.”</span></p> <p><b>The Blame Game<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats have laid part of the blame on the Court of Appeals, with a four-member majority of conservative-leaning justices nominated by Cuomo, including Chief Judge Janet DiFiore (who recently retired from the court).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think it's fair to say that there could be disagreement about whether the lines in particular for a particular house of the State Legislature or Congress may have had some pieces of it that needed correction,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who is co-chair of LATFOR and chair of the Democrats’ State Senate campaign committee, in an interview on </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11444-max-politics-podcast-senator-michael-gianaris-court-appeals-bail-redistricting-ny" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in July. “But to say that the Legislature had no power to draw the lines at all, which is what the Court of Appeals ultimately did, is completely out of left field and not in keeping with the very explicit direction of the state constitution.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If the decision was simply, ‘the lines for Congress were drawn impermissibly, in an impermissibly partisan fashion,’ the remedy, according to the constitution, is send it back to the Legislature with direction to do it differently,” Gianaris added. “That didn't get to happen because the court just took it out of the Legislature's hands entirely in an extra-constitutional manner.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts agree that the redistricting process is inherently flawed, but they don’t agree that the new maps are the reason behind Democratic losses. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The real issue is that Democrats lost seats in New York that Joe Biden won by 10 or 15 points,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, in a phone interview. Indeed, Biden performed well on Long Island where Democrats saw crucial House defeats on Tuesday. He won Nassau County in 2020 by nearly 10 points while losing Suffolk County by just 232 votes to Donald Trump. “If you look around the country, almost nowhere else do they lose districts that Joe Biden won by 10 or 15 points, which suggests that Democrats underperformed in New York compared to Democrats elsewhere,” Li said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As people go through the post-mortem, trying to figure out whether that's because of candidates or campaigns or some of the political dynamics around crime or other issues, but I suspect that all those are ultimately more to blame for Democrats’ failure than redrawing the maps,” he added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Li has also insisted that Democrats failed to take the opportunity to present remedial maps when their proposal was struck down by Judge McAllister, which could have helped them achieve their goals. And when they proposed maps to the special master, they again hewed close to their original proposal, which was bound to fail.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's unclear whether Democrats would have prevailed if they had gotten their way with redistricting, he noted. For instance, the </span><a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-73.613,40.638#%26map=9.62/40.6728/-73.6233" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">4th congressional district</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, covering southern Nassau County, was marginally more Democratic under the special master’s map than under the Democrat proposed one, but nonetheless went Republican in the general. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think if Democrats are looking for a scapegoat, they need to look inside,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jeffrey Wice, senior fellow at the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School, had his own criticisms for the redistricting process but did not attribute Tuesday’s election results to it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The redistricting process was designed to fail from the beginning,” he said in a phone interview. “We were dealing with a commission designed by Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans…who put into the plan, into the redistricting process, so many bells and whistles and twists and turns to make a positive outcome impossible ranging from having no tie-breaker, creating ridiculous rules depending on who controlled power in the Assembly and the Senate, to having separate staff directors and operations.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wice did say that the “four conservative judges” who make up the majority on the Court of Appeals “misunderstood the law” by denying the Legislature the ability to draw maps after the redistricting commission failed and that Democrats demonstrated in their arguments before the court that their maps were not overly partisan. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think the criticisms of the redistricting process are slightly overblown in terms of what the Democrats did, but the process itself was an inevitable failure designed to end up where it did,” he said. “And unless it’s changed, we can see the same thing happen over again.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among some Democrats as well, blaming redistricting seems to be far too simplistic. Harry Giannoulis, president of The Parkside Group, one of the main consultants for the State Senate Democrats, has argued against the rationale that Democrats overreached in the redistricting process. “The claim that NY Dems should've just gerrymandered a little less is bizarre,” he </span><a href="https://twitter.com/HarryGPSG/status/1591945607702511616?s=20&amp;t=zgr0vx_icFIOLiEVbbJ4Pw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">tweeted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on November 13. “Assembly made its own lines &amp; their majority decreased. Senate didn't &amp; may stay the same. The Court pointed to the redistricting process not being followed as the main cause for overturning the lines.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The Republican Senate passed the bill creating that poison pill in anticipation of blowing up the process. Which they did by walking out,” he continued, referring to the Republican appointees on the redistricting commission. “Also, there is no evidence that in the original lines, the Dems would have picked up 5 Congressional seats. The whole conversation is absurd,” he added of all the fingers being pointed at New York over the national House picture.. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, similarly, defended how the new redistricting process was approved by legislative leaders and voters. “The people of the state of New York overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment creating this process,” Azzopardi </span><a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/06/new-york-redistricting-chaos-andrew-cuomo-legacy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Vanity Fair</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “If they want to blame somebody for this chaotic mess, there are plenty of mirrors in this town.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There may still be further developments in the congressional redistricting issue. A group of voters filed a suit asking a state judge to order the commission to redraw congressional lines, submitting a second round of maps to the Legislature. The suit was </span><a href="https://www.wshu.org/long-island-news/2022-09-14/judge-denies-attempt-to-overturn-new-york-congressional-maps" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">dismissed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in September but is being appealed.</span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/theres-a-lot.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, 2013 (photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats in New York are stinging from a rough 2022 election showing in which they lost several congressional seats to Republicans, potentially costing the party control of the U.S. House of Representatives. As they assign blame, many have pointed to a tumultuous redistricting precipitated by a broken state process, state legislative leaders who overreached in trying to draw overly partisan lines, a Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of Republicans, and former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose political machinations laid the foundations for that chaos to unfold.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the end, New York’s 26 new congressional districts were drawn by a court-appointed “special master,” who crafted highly-competitive lines for this year’s elections and the coming decade until the next U.S. Census and redistricting process. While Democrats were able to exceed expectations in many places across the country, they under-performed in New York, leading some to call recriminations of the state’s redistricting process a distraction from the central point of campaign failures of Democrats and successes of Republicans in New York.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Democrats here and nationally had been counting on favorable New York congressional lines to counteract Republican gerrymandering elsewhere. And in the wake of the party’s losses across a number of New York districts and likely in the final overall House tally, many fingers are being pointed at the state’s redistricting process. So what actually happened?</span></p> <p><b>The 2020 Census and a 2012 Compromise<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">The state’s redistricting began in earnest with the 2020 Census, when an anemic state outreach operation hobbled by Cuomo meant that New York </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/nyregion/new-york-census-congress.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">lost one congressional seat</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, falling just 89 residents short (The U.S. Census did find later, however, that New York was among eight states where the population may have been </span><a href="https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-post-enumeration-survey.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">overcounted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the Census estimate.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York’s House representation would fall from 27 to 26 seats, mostly because of a loss of population upstate, and an even more drastic redrawing of the districts would be necessary. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York was also set to undertake a new, untested redistricting process that ultimately resulted in chaos.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2012, Governor Cuomo, Democrats who controlled the State Assembly, and Republicans who controlled the State Senate reached an agreement to ostensibly reform redistricting to make it bipartisan and “independent,” putting it in the hands of a ten-member Independent Redistricting Commission. The commission would be tasked with taking into account population trends and various federal and state requirements, and drawing new district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If the State Legislature rejected two consecutive proposals from the commission, it would then take over the drawing of new lines itself, a backdrop that was criticized at the time of the deal. Still, some saw promise in the new layers of independence and transparency, as well as attached anti-gerrymandering language.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The compromise was passed by two consecutive classes of the Legislature and put before voters. In a 2014 ballot referendum, New Yorkers approved by a 57.7-42.3% margin the state constitution amendment to adopt the new process and related requirements.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But even if elements of the new system signified progress, many critics presciently said the commission was designed to fail. Composed of four members appointed by Democratic legislative leaders and four by Republican leaders, plus two independent members chosen by a majority of the other eight, it was apt to deadlock on its proposed new district lines instead of finding consensus. This was especially likely if there were new political incentives at play, like one party controlling both houses of the Legislature. And that is exactly what happened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Through wins in the 2018 and 2020 state legislative elections, Democrats took supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, meaning less incentive for compromise from representatives of either party — Democrats with an eye on letting the Legislature craft new state legislative and congressional district maps and Republicans with an eye toward getting the map-drawing process decided by the courts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That newfound power in hand, Democrats sought to alter the redistricting process ahead of its first implementation. They sought to pass an amendment to the state constitution last year that would have allowed the IRC to appoint two co-executive directors by simple majority vote, frozen the number of state Senators at 63, require that State Assembly and Senate district lines be based on the total state population, count incarcerated people at their place of last residence, change the voting thresholds for approving redistricting maps, and, crucially, let the Legislature take over the process of adopting new maps if the IRC fails to vote on any plans by the set deadline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the referendum to do so, which they placed on the November 2021 ballot, was rejected by voters, with 54% voting against and 45% voting in favor. In the low turnout election highlighted by local races, conservatives mounted a major campaign to defeat that and other ballot referendums that would expand voting access, while Democrats did nothing to promote them and secure voter approval.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Legislature then passed and Governor Hochul signed a law that would accomplish the same goals as the proposed ballot question by amending the 2012 Redistricting Reform Act. But in a court ruling on redistricting, Judge Partrick McAllister found the law “substantially altered the constitution,” a step that could only be taken through a constitutional amendment and not through legislation, striking it down.</span></p> <p><b>The Independent Redistricting Commission Gets to Work, Chaos Ensues<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seven years and a political lifetime after the redistricting amendment was approved by voters, the Independent Redistricting Commission began its work in mid-2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After six months of meetings and public hearings, the commission broke into two factions along partisan lines, and each proposed separate plans in January of this year, voting 5-5 in both cases. The plans then headed to the State Legislature, where any successful proposal would have required a two-thirds vote in both chambers to pass. Both proposals failed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The onus returned to the commission to create new maps, but the commission again deadlocked and, crucially, did so without passing any map proposals at all. After that, the Legislature took over the process of redrawing district lines. As was later decided in court, that did not follow the prescribed constitutional process, but the Legislature did not compel the commission to pass something for it to consider.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), ready for the possibility, quickly drew new maps. Under the maps adopted by the Democrat-dominated Legislature and signed into law by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul on February 3, the party would have held an advantage in 22 out of New York’s 26 congressional districts, allowing them to potentially grow their conference by three seats.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new New York map would have the potential to counteract Republican gerrymandering elsewhere in the country in the national fight for control of the House. But the design also made the map ripe for a legal challenge, especially given the anti-gerrymandering language in the state constitution thanks to the 2014 amendment, which explicitly stated that “districts shall not be drawn to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new maps were quickly challenged in court, with Republican opponents arguing in a lawsuit filed strategically in Republican-heavy Steuben County in March that the Legislature did not have the authority to draw new maps for the Legislature or Congress because the commission had never passed a second map to be disapproved in the first place, and also that the congressional map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Steuben County Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister ruled in favor of the Republican lawsuit on April 1 and struck down the Democrat-created maps. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">McAllister even said in his ruling that the Independent Redistricting Commission could have been legally compelled to issue a second set of maps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is nothing in the constitution that permits the IRC to just throw up their collective hands…Here the IRC stopped working well before its deadline,” he </span><a href="https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=bJrLd/3rP9tGN_PLUS_5c3T0QpA==" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">wrote in his order</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “What someone should have done was bring an action to compel the members of the IRC to continue their work or for the political sides of the legislatures that appointed 8 of the 10 members of the IRC to remove and replace any IRC member that did not embrace his/her constitutional role.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The judge also gave the Legislature an opportunity to submit revised maps that would not require unanimous support but “must enjoy a reasonable amount of bipartisan support to insure the constitutional process is protected.” Democrats chose not to avail themselves of that opportunity, however, banking on their appeal to a more Democrat-friendly court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats appealed the decision but the state’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, ruled against them on April 27 and instead appointed a special master to draw more neutral maps that would encourage competitive elections.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That process was overseen by Judge McAllister, who also delayed the primary election for Congress and State Senate by two months, moving it from June to August to allow time for the maps to be drawn and candidates to campaign in the new districts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee then attempted to back a challenge against that delay in federal court but was denied and Judge Gary Sharpe of the Northern District of New York ruled on May 10 that those primaries would indeed be pushed from June 28 to August 23. (The statewide and Assembly primaries remained in June.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On May 16, Jonathan Cervas, the court-appointed special master, </span><a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/16/23075226/special-master-new-york-city-redistricting-maps" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">proposed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> new district lines that threw the Democratic Party into turmoil. According to the </span><a href="https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=UG9c3UUUXdg6wEXou62Azw==&amp;system=prod&amp;TSPD_101_R0=08533cd43fab20001565a6c2e80262c87dc518e10d1cb23f8cd4b2feca28c684b3bd5d0b69b3431c0819e630a41430003d3c2452a3de69845a660ca04393b2870919a2081b1770b8fee8b645ffceb98a1788db72bb98dd5c83b142e957c6f65f" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">court filing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, it created eight competitive congressional districts (instead of three under the legislative proposal, and in reality there were more this year) and, in some cases, it led to incumbent Democrats being pitted against each other. “Both the congressional and state senate maps have a substantial number of competitive seats (far more than in the unconstitutional maps) and are going</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">to be responsive to the public will,” Cervas wrote in his report on the final maps. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On May 20, Cervas submitted new maps with minor alterations that were </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/21/nyregion/redistrict-map-nadler-maloney.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">approved</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by Judge McAllister. The final maps, he wrote, “remain almost perfectly neutral, meaning the maps do not favor or disfavor any political party.”</span></p> <p><b>The Blame Game<br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Democrats have laid part of the blame on the Court of Appeals, with a four-member majority of conservative-leaning justices nominated by Cuomo, including Chief Judge Janet DiFiore (who recently retired from the court).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think it's fair to say that there could be disagreement about whether the lines in particular for a particular house of the State Legislature or Congress may have had some pieces of it that needed correction,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who is co-chair of LATFOR and chair of the Democrats’ State Senate campaign committee, in an interview on </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11444-max-politics-podcast-senator-michael-gianaris-court-appeals-bail-redistricting-ny" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in July. “But to say that the Legislature had no power to draw the lines at all, which is what the Court of Appeals ultimately did, is completely out of left field and not in keeping with the very explicit direction of the state constitution.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If the decision was simply, ‘the lines for Congress were drawn impermissibly, in an impermissibly partisan fashion,’ the remedy, according to the constitution, is send it back to the Legislature with direction to do it differently,” Gianaris added. “That didn't get to happen because the court just took it out of the Legislature's hands entirely in an extra-constitutional manner.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts agree that the redistricting process is inherently flawed, but they don’t agree that the new maps are the reason behind Democratic losses. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The real issue is that Democrats lost seats in New York that Joe Biden won by 10 or 15 points,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, in a phone interview. Indeed, Biden performed well on Long Island where Democrats saw crucial House defeats on Tuesday. He won Nassau County in 2020 by nearly 10 points while losing Suffolk County by just 232 votes to Donald Trump. “If you look around the country, almost nowhere else do they lose districts that Joe Biden won by 10 or 15 points, which suggests that Democrats underperformed in New York compared to Democrats elsewhere,” Li said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As people go through the post-mortem, trying to figure out whether that's because of candidates or campaigns or some of the political dynamics around crime or other issues, but I suspect that all those are ultimately more to blame for Democrats’ failure than redrawing the maps,” he added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Li has also insisted that Democrats failed to take the opportunity to present remedial maps when their proposal was struck down by Judge McAllister, which could have helped them achieve their goals. And when they proposed maps to the special master, they again hewed close to their original proposal, which was bound to fail.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's unclear whether Democrats would have prevailed if they had gotten their way with redistricting, he noted. For instance, the </span><a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-73.613,40.638#%26map=9.62/40.6728/-73.6233" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">4th congressional district</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, covering southern Nassau County, was marginally more Democratic under the special master’s map than under the Democrat proposed one, but nonetheless went Republican in the general. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think if Democrats are looking for a scapegoat, they need to look inside,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jeffrey Wice, senior fellow at the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School, had his own criticisms for the redistricting process but did not attribute Tuesday’s election results to it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The redistricting process was designed to fail from the beginning,” he said in a phone interview. “We were dealing with a commission designed by Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans…who put into the plan, into the redistricting process, so many bells and whistles and twists and turns to make a positive outcome impossible ranging from having no tie-breaker, creating ridiculous rules depending on who controlled power in the Assembly and the Senate, to having separate staff directors and operations.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wice did say that the “four conservative judges” who make up the majority on the Court of Appeals “misunderstood the law” by denying the Legislature the ability to draw maps after the redistricting commission failed and that Democrats demonstrated in their arguments before the court that their maps were not overly partisan. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think the criticisms of the redistricting process are slightly overblown in terms of what the Democrats did, but the process itself was an inevitable failure designed to end up where it did,” he said. “And unless it’s changed, we can see the same thing happen over again.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among some Democrats as well, blaming redistricting seems to be far too simplistic. Harry Giannoulis, president of The Parkside Group, one of the main consultants for the State Senate Democrats, has argued against the rationale that Democrats overreached in the redistricting process. “The claim that NY Dems should've just gerrymandered a little less is bizarre,” he </span><a href="https://twitter.com/HarryGPSG/status/1591945607702511616?s=20&amp;t=zgr0vx_icFIOLiEVbbJ4Pw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">tweeted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on November 13. “Assembly made its own lines &amp; their majority decreased. Senate didn't &amp; may stay the same. The Court pointed to the redistricting process not being followed as the main cause for overturning the lines.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The Republican Senate passed the bill creating that poison pill in anticipation of blowing up the process. Which they did by walking out,” he continued, referring to the Republican appointees on the redistricting commission. “Also, there is no evidence that in the original lines, the Dems would have picked up 5 Congressional seats. The whole conversation is absurd,” he added of all the fingers being pointed at New York over the national House picture.. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, similarly, defended how the new redistricting process was approved by legislative leaders and voters. “The people of the state of New York overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment creating this process,” Azzopardi </span><a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/06/new-york-redistricting-chaos-andrew-cuomo-legacy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Vanity Fair</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “If they want to blame somebody for this chaotic mess, there are plenty of mirrors in this town.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There may still be further developments in the congressional redistricting issue. A group of voters filed a suit asking a state judge to order the commission to redraw congressional lines, submitting a second round of maps to the Legislature. The suit was </span><a href="https://www.wshu.org/long-island-news/2022-09-14/judge-denies-attempt-to-overturn-new-york-congressional-maps" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">dismissed</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in September but is being appealed.</span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races 2022-11-13T14:00:00+00:00 2022-11-13T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11683-max-politics-podcast-winning-formula-democrats-new-york-pat-ryan Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/a-winning.jpg" /></p> <p>Rep. Pat Ryan with Gov. Hochul (photo: Ryan Campaign)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 13, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races<br /></strong></p> <p>Chris Walsh, campaign manager for Pat Ryan's two Hudson Valley congressional wins this year and Brad Lander's 2021 NYC Comptroller win, joined the show to discuss how campaigns work, how to win tough races, Democratic messaging, the specifics of Ryan's wins, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11683-max-politics-podcast-winning-formula-democrats-new-york-pat-ryan">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/a-winning.jpg" /></p> <p>Rep. Pat Ryan with Gov. Hochul (photo: Ryan Campaign)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 13, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races<br /></strong></p> <p>Chris Walsh, campaign manager for Pat Ryan's two Hudson Valley congressional wins this year and Brad Lander's 2021 NYC Comptroller win, joined the show to discuss how campaigns work, how to win tough races, Democratic messaging, the specifics of Ryan's wins, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11683-max-politics-podcast-winning-formula-democrats-new-york-pat-ryan">Read More ...</a></p> A Full Term in Hand, What's Governor Hochul's Agenda? 2022-11-14T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-14T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11681-won-election-whats-governor-hochul-agenda-new-york Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/first-full-term.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Kathy Hochul made history last week, becoming the first woman to be elected governor of New York. Hochul, a Democrat who took over in August 2021 after Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace, will now serve a full four-year term with the opportunity to more fully craft her agenda. But she already has a lengthy set of priorities either in motion or that she has promised to pursue, and there is more that others expect her to address, whether they voted for or against her. </p> <p>Though Hochul had a far more extensive campaign platform than her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, she did not propose a broad vision for the next four years beyond continuing the work already underway in the state and the agenda that she pursued over her initial year-plus in office. Indeed, some have criticized her for not offering more of a forward-looking vision during the campaign, with new ideas to excite voters, but Hochul has promised a broad agenda in the new year, when she will unveil just her second State of the State policy plan and $200-plus billion Executive Budget.</p> <p>In her initial tenure, Hochul launched major health care workforce initiatives, invested heavily in childcare, increased local education funding, signed into law new gun regulations and abortion protections, expedited planned middle class tax cuts, restarted or reimagined infrastructure projects, and more. She’s promising to build on those accomplishments and go further, especially on affordable housing, which she has repeatedly cited as a top priority moving forward.</p> <p>“I'm committed to continuing to focus our efforts on driving down costs and making things more affordable, everything from housing to the cost of gasoline to utilities,” Hochul said in an <a href="https://www.wivb.com/news/new-york/i-didnt-run-to-be-the-first-of-anything-gov-hochul-speaks-on-winning-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interview with News 4 Buffalo</a>, her hometown station, the day after the election. “We've been focused, but we're going to continue that effort intensely, as well as continuing our efforts to improve public safety all across the state…We can make progress in certain areas, but as long as there's a single crime, that's one crime too many.” </p> <p><strong>What Comes Next</strong><br />As she heads into the new year, Hochul still has a Democratic Legislature to collaborate, or contend, with. Hochul appears set to further address top issues from the campaign where Zeldin made inroads with voters, particularly public safety and cost of living. It remains to be seen how much further action she will take on crime, or whether she will largely focus on ensuring implementation of a variety of moves she has already made, including changes to the state’s controversial bail law that she insisted on during her first budget but has questioned whether key stakeholders, especially judges, are utilizing.</p> <p>Many conservatives and some moderates, including Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams, are calling for more changes to the bail law, without acknowledging the changes Hochul already achieved (which she declined to say much about during the campaign). She has expressed an openness to revisiting the subject, but also stressed the importance of first seeing the results of the most recent changes, especially in conjunction with other public safety policies and funding she has moved ahead.</p> <p>Hochul is also likely to face pressure from progressives who want to see more robust movement on issues like climate action, tenant protections, criminal justice reform, and more. And underpinning it all, Hochul and the Legislature face a precarious fiscal future, as pandemic-era federal stimulus funds are running out and revenue streams remain uncertain.</p> <p>First and foremost, Hochul will start a new year and four-year term as the head of New York state government and the New York Democratic Party with a different stature than she had in the short period after ascending to the governorship toward the end of a term won by Cuomo. While she has newfound power and the cushion of a full term, she also won her race by the smallest margin any Democrat has achieved since a Republican last won the office in 2002.</p> <p>One of the major variables in New York politics right now is what lessons Hochul and other Democrats take from a disappointing but mostly victorious election.</p> <p>Democrats lost a number of House and state legislative seats, and fingers are being pointed in all directions, with conservatives, moderates, and progressives all calling on Hochul to heed their political and policy priorities. Her relationship with other party big-wigs, state legislative leaders, Mayor Adams, and others all take on new dynamics now, and Hochul will in large part be able to set the tone given the immense powers of the Governor. As promised in the wake of Cuomo’s notorious tenure, she has brought a new era of respectful collaboration to state politics, but she now must heal divides and produce progress for the state.</p> <p>“Hochul has a choice to make,” said Bruce Gyory, a veteran Democratic consultant, “and that is, she can either allow the divisions in the Democratic Party between the left and the center to consume her administration and hurt her and drain her administration and the Democrats or she can…reconfigure, refresh the argument, bring the two wings of the party together behind a program that works.” </p> <p><strong>Hochul’s Priorities</strong><br />In the News 4 Buffalo interview, Hochul said she did not have “new priorities” but rather the same she has already been focused on: “protecting public safety, also affordability overall with people's high cost of living, and increasing more housing stock…Those are the top areas we're going to focus on, as well as protecting our environment.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/25/kathy-hochul-new-york-00063396" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interview with Politico New York</a> last month, Hochul did promise that she will present a “bold vision” in her State of the State address early next year. “The basic lens is that we’re going to do everything we can to focus on making New York state a place people want to live, want to come to, can afford to live in, can get a job in, where they can build a business and raise their families. So everything we do is through the framework of what’s going to meet those objectives,” she said, promising a focus on public safety and housing policy.</p> <p>Some of Hochul’s most ambitious policy proposals from this year dealt with housing, but were not part of agreements reached with the Legislature. Most, if not all, appear likely to be back on her 2023 agenda in some form.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-gov-hochul-election-20221109-gsvxn6nm7nc4jb6p4hxzsmd6ty-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New York Daily News Editorial Board</a> had plenty of advice to offer the governor: keep the state budget under control while socking away money for a rainy day, ensure the voter-approved $4.2 billion in environmental bond act money is spent wisely, reevaluate the state’s plans for the Penn Station area overhaul, push to give judges flexibility in determining a defendant's dangerousness when deciding bail, review the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, spur the creation of affordable housing, quickly roll out (and regulate) legalized marijuana, support the State Board of Regents’ push for secular education at yeshivas, potentially rewrite the state’s concealed carry law, and resist the overtures of campaign donors and progressive legislators.</p> <p>“For the good of the state, with principle and pragmatism, Hochul must chart her own course. It’s her time now,” the editorial board wrote. </p> <p>Sochie Nnaemeka, political director of the New York Working Families Party, believes Hochul should very much listen to progressives, especially after they helped save her election, as the WFP also fought successfully to keep its ballot line. She said Hochul should take a lesson from how Democrats performed in other states and nationally, by focusing on a positive vision that improves people’s lives.</p> <p>“The governor has an opportunity to lead on a bold vision that addresses the rising costs that working families are facing,” said Nnaemeka, advocating for a massive increase in affordable housing, universal child care and health care, bold climate action, and higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for much of it. “This is a moment for the agenda that will animate the base and lead people to a real sense that state government is leading with clarity, with urgency, with a sense of purpose,” she said. </p> <p>As Hochul has indicated, she seems intent on addressing chief concerns repeatedly expressed by voters in polls ahead of the election: crime and inflation. Republicans capitalized on the two issues to hammer away at her and other Democrats, successfully parlaying those concerns into a series of down-ballot victories even as the top of the GOP ticket failed to win. Even New York Democrats admitted that they ceded the public safety conversation in particular to the Republican Party, largely leaving them playing defense.  </p> <p>“The question for Hochul is, can she come up with a defensive strategy on crime that builds armor, while on issues like health care, economic development, and education, can she come up with a positive program that people will look back on and say, she used the opportunity to the benefits of New Yorkers,” said Gyory.</p> <p>Hochul does have policies in motion on all those fronts, including major recent deals for a new Buffalo Bills stadium, an immense Micron microchip plant near Syracuse, the ongoing Penn Station area redevelopment plan, the planned Interborough Express connecting parts of Brooklyn and Queens, and more. But those big-ticket items, efforts to reduce crime, and many other policies and programs will require implementation, negotiation, and funding. While federal pandemic relief is being used up, more funding is on its way via the massive infrastructure law and other federal policies passed under President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress, in part led by New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader who appears set to retain that position but could be working with a Republican-led House.</p> <p>Hochul’s agenda won’t necessarily be easy to accomplish, Gyory added. “You need political skill, you need energy to do that, and you need a little bit of good fortune. She has to put her imprint on the policy direction of her administration. That's gonna take energy. It's gonna take skill to get it through the Legislature. And then, it's like, where's the economy in four years?”</p> <p>Hochul has said she will continue to address public safety by deepening efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, investing greater resources in law enforcement and in crime interruption programs. She has insisted that changes made this year to tighten state bail laws will work, given time. “We're gonna give those a little bit of time to work, but I'm always open to improving laws,” she said on News 4 Buffalo in her first post-election interview. “Whenever we want to take another look at it again, I'll work with the Legislature, but my number one priority is keeping people safe.”</p> <p>Housing affordability is at the core of addressing the cost of living in New York and Hochul has made it a top priority. This year, she committed to a $25 billion five-year housing plan to create and preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing, including 10,000 supportive housing units. But she has admitted that it falls well short of the state’s need for between 500,000 to 1.2 million homes over the next ten years, an estimate she has repeatedly mentioned. (According to the <a href="https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Low Income Housing Coalition</a>, New York has a shortage of more than 615,000 rental units for very low-income households that have a maximum income of $26,200 for a family of four).</p> <p>“That is the number one issue,” she said in the Politico interview. “It’s apartments. It’s that housing stock is not what it should be, nowhere near what it should be. It is half of Boston’s, the building that’s going on [<a href="https://cbcny.org/research/strategies-boost-housing-production-new-york-city-metropolitan-area" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in New York City per capita</a>]. We’re not building enough new housing, we’re not doing conversions, and I directed my team to find all the barriers at the local level, at the state level, and to find what policies are in place that are holding back the growth that we need.”</p> <p>Hochul has promised to revisit several proposals that did not pass the Legislature this year including legalizing accessory dwelling units, and has pledged to address administrative barriers to affordable housing creation across the state. Another proposal that failed this year would have removed the Floor Area Ratio cap for New York City, allowing for taller buildings with more housing, and a plan to incentivize more transit-oriented development, especially in the suburbs, which have allowed little new housing.</p> <p>Hochul did successfully advance a measure to allow hotel space conversion to housing, but it has accomplished little, and she has since turned her eye to easing office space conversions. A joint panel assembled by Hochul and Mayor Adams focused on reimagining the city’s central business districts is due to release recommendations in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Crucial to Hochul’s housing plan will be a replacement for the expired 421-a housing subsidy. In the budget session this year, Hochul proposed a new 485-w program to replace it, making minor adjustments that would have mandated more affordable units in exchange for the large tax benefit, but the measure failed after facing opposition from legislators who called it a giveaway to wealthy real estate developers.</p> <p>Another major question that remains is whether the Legislature will pass a “good cause eviction” bill that is designed to create strong tenant protections, including limits on annual rent increases, and if Hochul will support it in some form. The legislation could be among the most hotly-debated policies of the coming session, along with the fate of the 421-a program, several criminal justice reforms, and climate policy, including but not limited to the Build Public Renewables Act.</p> <p>State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat from Southern Brooklyn, where the party saw Assembly losses and a tighter than expected State Senate race in a new neighboring district to his, said the governor has the opportunity to build on the work that she began in her first budget this year.</p> <p>“I think we had a really good budget overall. I think we put some good pieces in place to kind of build on,” he said, pointing to funding for child care in particular. “I think when we're talking about affordability and we’re talking about some of the biggest costs that people face, childcare is definitely high on that list, and we can do a lot more to help support childcare. We can have universal childcare,” he said. </p> <p>Gounardes also said a major concern for the state is the future of the MTA. “That's going to be a huge issue that I think we're all going to face a reckoning with next year,” he said. “I think we have a lot of work to do to help permanently stabilize the MTA operating budget.” </p> <p>“I think the big takeaway here is that people are feeling a pinch in their pockets and we should do everything we can to make healthcare more affordable, college more affordable, childcare more affordable, housing more affordable,” he added.  </p> <p>A Democratic consultant, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said Hochul is, and should be, focused on housing, public safety, and climate action. </p> <p>“I think she and her team are likely going to be visible and engaged around questions of public safety,” the consultant said. “I think they learned a lot through this campaign about the importance of speaking to the issues. Even if you think your policies are doing the job that they're intended to do, you have to keep reminding people about your vision, your engagement and that it's something that is top of mind.”</p> <p>As governor, Hochul inherited the responsibility of overseeing the state’s implementation of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, a sweeping legislative package that sets the state on a path of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. But the plan for implementation was not spelled out and instead kicked to the Climate Action Council that the law also created and is in the midst of completing a scoping plan that will in large part inform how the governor and Legislature are expected to advance climate policy.</p> <p>Voters in this election also <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11665-new-york-voters-approve-environmental-bond-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">approved</a> the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, a ballot measure first proposed by Hochul’s predecessor but increased in value at her behest. With the federal Inflation Reduction Act set to also provide billions in funding for climate action, New York has an opportunity to invest heavily in green energy, jobs, and infrastructure.</p> <p>Hochul has already taken several actions in her time in office to advance major clean energy projects and has pledged to continue her efforts, even as climate activists have said that she hasn’t moved with the urgency required by the global climate crisis. There are several proposals that she has promised to pursue while others may be foisted on her by progressives in the Legislature. There is the All Electric Buildings Act, which she supported but did not get passed, to ban oil and gas hook-ups in all new building construction starting in a few years.</p> <p>Activists have also pushed her to support a slate of climate measures, chiefly the Build Public Renewables Act, which would allow the New York Power Authority to own and build new renewable energy projects, among other things. And they are pushing her to sign a two-year moratorium on new fossil-fuel crypto-currency mining, on which she has repeatedly vacillated and must make a decision by the end of this year. </p> <p>The Democratic consultant said Hochul’s agenda, and the respective priorities of moderates and progressives, aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. And that Hochul now has more power relative to the Legislature, particularly in a state that has a strong executive. “What happens when a new governor gets elected is everyone is seeking to set the agenda. Everyone is seeking to decide what issues she could and should pay attention to,” the consultant said. “And the thing that I think people often forget is when you have a new elected chief executive, whether it's a mayor or governor or president, they tend to hold a lot of the cards.”</p> <p>As the new power dynamics are sorted out, Hochul’s relationship with Mayor Adams will be among the most important. Both have shown and stressed a productive, collegial relationship in stark contrast to that between their predecessors, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Adams has credited Hochul for working together on a number of issues from taking on illegal guns to childcare funding, an expanded earned income tax credit, the new NYCHA Preservation Trust, and more.</p> <p>But he has also continuously undermined her efforts and messaging on public safety, especially with regard to the bail law, not acknowledging the changes she did get made in her lone state budget, which focus on repeat offenders, property theft, and gun possession cases. While Hochul has occasionally touted the changes and called for better implementation and patience, Adams has called the law flawed and pledged to seek the overhaul he wants in the next session. Having already frustrated legislative leaders, it is unclear how much Adams has aggravated Hochul, who had to face Zeldin repeatedly citing Adams during his campaign attacks on her. While the new governor needed Adams’ political support as she quickly faced election for the position, the power balance between the two has at least somewhat flipped now that she has won a term.</p> <p>There is plenty for the two top Democrats to work on together.</p> <p>Besides housing and climate investments, Hochul has also put her weight behind major infrastructure projects that will be closely observed by those watching her administration, many in New York City.</p> <p>She ushered through the $1.3 billion Buffalo Bills stadium deal, with $600 million in state subsidies, and will have to prove that it was worth the bill to taxpayers. Her administration is also moving ahead with the controversial redevelopment of Penn Station and its surrounding neighborhood, a project that has questionable finances and design, with a heavy emphasis on new office space. And the state, under her watch, is overseeing other projects that will take months or years to complete including East Side Access, the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, the rehabilitation of the Gateway tunnel, the Bronx MetroNorth expansion, and implementing congestion pricing in New York City.</p> <p>Hochul has also proposed a new “InterBorough Express” connecting Brooklyn and Queens via existing freight rail lines, a project only in its early planning phase.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/first-full-term.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Kathy Hochul made history last week, becoming the first woman to be elected governor of New York. Hochul, a Democrat who took over in August 2021 after Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace, will now serve a full four-year term with the opportunity to more fully craft her agenda. But she already has a lengthy set of priorities either in motion or that she has promised to pursue, and there is more that others expect her to address, whether they voted for or against her. </p> <p>Though Hochul had a far more extensive campaign platform than her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, she did not propose a broad vision for the next four years beyond continuing the work already underway in the state and the agenda that she pursued over her initial year-plus in office. Indeed, some have criticized her for not offering more of a forward-looking vision during the campaign, with new ideas to excite voters, but Hochul has promised a broad agenda in the new year, when she will unveil just her second State of the State policy plan and $200-plus billion Executive Budget.</p> <p>In her initial tenure, Hochul launched major health care workforce initiatives, invested heavily in childcare, increased local education funding, signed into law new gun regulations and abortion protections, expedited planned middle class tax cuts, restarted or reimagined infrastructure projects, and more. She’s promising to build on those accomplishments and go further, especially on affordable housing, which she has repeatedly cited as a top priority moving forward.</p> <p>“I'm committed to continuing to focus our efforts on driving down costs and making things more affordable, everything from housing to the cost of gasoline to utilities,” Hochul said in an <a href="https://www.wivb.com/news/new-york/i-didnt-run-to-be-the-first-of-anything-gov-hochul-speaks-on-winning-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interview with News 4 Buffalo</a>, her hometown station, the day after the election. “We've been focused, but we're going to continue that effort intensely, as well as continuing our efforts to improve public safety all across the state…We can make progress in certain areas, but as long as there's a single crime, that's one crime too many.” </p> <p><strong>What Comes Next</strong><br />As she heads into the new year, Hochul still has a Democratic Legislature to collaborate, or contend, with. Hochul appears set to further address top issues from the campaign where Zeldin made inroads with voters, particularly public safety and cost of living. It remains to be seen how much further action she will take on crime, or whether she will largely focus on ensuring implementation of a variety of moves she has already made, including changes to the state’s controversial bail law that she insisted on during her first budget but has questioned whether key stakeholders, especially judges, are utilizing.</p> <p>Many conservatives and some moderates, including Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams, are calling for more changes to the bail law, without acknowledging the changes Hochul already achieved (which she declined to say much about during the campaign). She has expressed an openness to revisiting the subject, but also stressed the importance of first seeing the results of the most recent changes, especially in conjunction with other public safety policies and funding she has moved ahead.</p> <p>Hochul is also likely to face pressure from progressives who want to see more robust movement on issues like climate action, tenant protections, criminal justice reform, and more. And underpinning it all, Hochul and the Legislature face a precarious fiscal future, as pandemic-era federal stimulus funds are running out and revenue streams remain uncertain.</p> <p>First and foremost, Hochul will start a new year and four-year term as the head of New York state government and the New York Democratic Party with a different stature than she had in the short period after ascending to the governorship toward the end of a term won by Cuomo. While she has newfound power and the cushion of a full term, she also won her race by the smallest margin any Democrat has achieved since a Republican last won the office in 2002.</p> <p>One of the major variables in New York politics right now is what lessons Hochul and other Democrats take from a disappointing but mostly victorious election.</p> <p>Democrats lost a number of House and state legislative seats, and fingers are being pointed in all directions, with conservatives, moderates, and progressives all calling on Hochul to heed their political and policy priorities. Her relationship with other party big-wigs, state legislative leaders, Mayor Adams, and others all take on new dynamics now, and Hochul will in large part be able to set the tone given the immense powers of the Governor. As promised in the wake of Cuomo’s notorious tenure, she has brought a new era of respectful collaboration to state politics, but she now must heal divides and produce progress for the state.</p> <p>“Hochul has a choice to make,” said Bruce Gyory, a veteran Democratic consultant, “and that is, she can either allow the divisions in the Democratic Party between the left and the center to consume her administration and hurt her and drain her administration and the Democrats or she can…reconfigure, refresh the argument, bring the two wings of the party together behind a program that works.” </p> <p><strong>Hochul’s Priorities</strong><br />In the News 4 Buffalo interview, Hochul said she did not have “new priorities” but rather the same she has already been focused on: “protecting public safety, also affordability overall with people's high cost of living, and increasing more housing stock…Those are the top areas we're going to focus on, as well as protecting our environment.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/25/kathy-hochul-new-york-00063396" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interview with Politico New York</a> last month, Hochul did promise that she will present a “bold vision” in her State of the State address early next year. “The basic lens is that we’re going to do everything we can to focus on making New York state a place people want to live, want to come to, can afford to live in, can get a job in, where they can build a business and raise their families. So everything we do is through the framework of what’s going to meet those objectives,” she said, promising a focus on public safety and housing policy.</p> <p>Some of Hochul’s most ambitious policy proposals from this year dealt with housing, but were not part of agreements reached with the Legislature. Most, if not all, appear likely to be back on her 2023 agenda in some form.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-gov-hochul-election-20221109-gsvxn6nm7nc4jb6p4hxzsmd6ty-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New York Daily News Editorial Board</a> had plenty of advice to offer the governor: keep the state budget under control while socking away money for a rainy day, ensure the voter-approved $4.2 billion in environmental bond act money is spent wisely, reevaluate the state’s plans for the Penn Station area overhaul, push to give judges flexibility in determining a defendant's dangerousness when deciding bail, review the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, spur the creation of affordable housing, quickly roll out (and regulate) legalized marijuana, support the State Board of Regents’ push for secular education at yeshivas, potentially rewrite the state’s concealed carry law, and resist the overtures of campaign donors and progressive legislators.</p> <p>“For the good of the state, with principle and pragmatism, Hochul must chart her own course. It’s her time now,” the editorial board wrote. </p> <p>Sochie Nnaemeka, political director of the New York Working Families Party, believes Hochul should very much listen to progressives, especially after they helped save her election, as the WFP also fought successfully to keep its ballot line. She said Hochul should take a lesson from how Democrats performed in other states and nationally, by focusing on a positive vision that improves people’s lives.</p> <p>“The governor has an opportunity to lead on a bold vision that addresses the rising costs that working families are facing,” said Nnaemeka, advocating for a massive increase in affordable housing, universal child care and health care, bold climate action, and higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for much of it. “This is a moment for the agenda that will animate the base and lead people to a real sense that state government is leading with clarity, with urgency, with a sense of purpose,” she said. </p> <p>As Hochul has indicated, she seems intent on addressing chief concerns repeatedly expressed by voters in polls ahead of the election: crime and inflation. Republicans capitalized on the two issues to hammer away at her and other Democrats, successfully parlaying those concerns into a series of down-ballot victories even as the top of the GOP ticket failed to win. Even New York Democrats admitted that they ceded the public safety conversation in particular to the Republican Party, largely leaving them playing defense.  </p> <p>“The question for Hochul is, can she come up with a defensive strategy on crime that builds armor, while on issues like health care, economic development, and education, can she come up with a positive program that people will look back on and say, she used the opportunity to the benefits of New Yorkers,” said Gyory.</p> <p>Hochul does have policies in motion on all those fronts, including major recent deals for a new Buffalo Bills stadium, an immense Micron microchip plant near Syracuse, the ongoing Penn Station area redevelopment plan, the planned Interborough Express connecting parts of Brooklyn and Queens, and more. But those big-ticket items, efforts to reduce crime, and many other policies and programs will require implementation, negotiation, and funding. While federal pandemic relief is being used up, more funding is on its way via the massive infrastructure law and other federal policies passed under President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress, in part led by New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader who appears set to retain that position but could be working with a Republican-led House.</p> <p>Hochul’s agenda won’t necessarily be easy to accomplish, Gyory added. “You need political skill, you need energy to do that, and you need a little bit of good fortune. She has to put her imprint on the policy direction of her administration. That's gonna take energy. It's gonna take skill to get it through the Legislature. And then, it's like, where's the economy in four years?”</p> <p>Hochul has said she will continue to address public safety by deepening efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, investing greater resources in law enforcement and in crime interruption programs. She has insisted that changes made this year to tighten state bail laws will work, given time. “We're gonna give those a little bit of time to work, but I'm always open to improving laws,” she said on News 4 Buffalo in her first post-election interview. “Whenever we want to take another look at it again, I'll work with the Legislature, but my number one priority is keeping people safe.”</p> <p>Housing affordability is at the core of addressing the cost of living in New York and Hochul has made it a top priority. This year, she committed to a $25 billion five-year housing plan to create and preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing, including 10,000 supportive housing units. But she has admitted that it falls well short of the state’s need for between 500,000 to 1.2 million homes over the next ten years, an estimate she has repeatedly mentioned. (According to the <a href="https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Low Income Housing Coalition</a>, New York has a shortage of more than 615,000 rental units for very low-income households that have a maximum income of $26,200 for a family of four).</p> <p>“That is the number one issue,” she said in the Politico interview. “It’s apartments. It’s that housing stock is not what it should be, nowhere near what it should be. It is half of Boston’s, the building that’s going on [<a href="https://cbcny.org/research/strategies-boost-housing-production-new-york-city-metropolitan-area" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in New York City per capita</a>]. We’re not building enough new housing, we’re not doing conversions, and I directed my team to find all the barriers at the local level, at the state level, and to find what policies are in place that are holding back the growth that we need.”</p> <p>Hochul has promised to revisit several proposals that did not pass the Legislature this year including legalizing accessory dwelling units, and has pledged to address administrative barriers to affordable housing creation across the state. Another proposal that failed this year would have removed the Floor Area Ratio cap for New York City, allowing for taller buildings with more housing, and a plan to incentivize more transit-oriented development, especially in the suburbs, which have allowed little new housing.</p> <p>Hochul did successfully advance a measure to allow hotel space conversion to housing, but it has accomplished little, and she has since turned her eye to easing office space conversions. A joint panel assembled by Hochul and Mayor Adams focused on reimagining the city’s central business districts is due to release recommendations in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Crucial to Hochul’s housing plan will be a replacement for the expired 421-a housing subsidy. In the budget session this year, Hochul proposed a new 485-w program to replace it, making minor adjustments that would have mandated more affordable units in exchange for the large tax benefit, but the measure failed after facing opposition from legislators who called it a giveaway to wealthy real estate developers.</p> <p>Another major question that remains is whether the Legislature will pass a “good cause eviction” bill that is designed to create strong tenant protections, including limits on annual rent increases, and if Hochul will support it in some form. The legislation could be among the most hotly-debated policies of the coming session, along with the fate of the 421-a program, several criminal justice reforms, and climate policy, including but not limited to the Build Public Renewables Act.</p> <p>State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat from Southern Brooklyn, where the party saw Assembly losses and a tighter than expected State Senate race in a new neighboring district to his, said the governor has the opportunity to build on the work that she began in her first budget this year.</p> <p>“I think we had a really good budget overall. I think we put some good pieces in place to kind of build on,” he said, pointing to funding for child care in particular. “I think when we're talking about affordability and we’re talking about some of the biggest costs that people face, childcare is definitely high on that list, and we can do a lot more to help support childcare. We can have universal childcare,” he said. </p> <p>Gounardes also said a major concern for the state is the future of the MTA. “That's going to be a huge issue that I think we're all going to face a reckoning with next year,” he said. “I think we have a lot of work to do to help permanently stabilize the MTA operating budget.” </p> <p>“I think the big takeaway here is that people are feeling a pinch in their pockets and we should do everything we can to make healthcare more affordable, college more affordable, childcare more affordable, housing more affordable,” he added.  </p> <p>A Democratic consultant, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said Hochul is, and should be, focused on housing, public safety, and climate action. </p> <p>“I think she and her team are likely going to be visible and engaged around questions of public safety,” the consultant said. “I think they learned a lot through this campaign about the importance of speaking to the issues. Even if you think your policies are doing the job that they're intended to do, you have to keep reminding people about your vision, your engagement and that it's something that is top of mind.”</p> <p>As governor, Hochul inherited the responsibility of overseeing the state’s implementation of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, a sweeping legislative package that sets the state on a path of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. But the plan for implementation was not spelled out and instead kicked to the Climate Action Council that the law also created and is in the midst of completing a scoping plan that will in large part inform how the governor and Legislature are expected to advance climate policy.</p> <p>Voters in this election also <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11665-new-york-voters-approve-environmental-bond-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">approved</a> the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, a ballot measure first proposed by Hochul’s predecessor but increased in value at her behest. With the federal Inflation Reduction Act set to also provide billions in funding for climate action, New York has an opportunity to invest heavily in green energy, jobs, and infrastructure.</p> <p>Hochul has already taken several actions in her time in office to advance major clean energy projects and has pledged to continue her efforts, even as climate activists have said that she hasn’t moved with the urgency required by the global climate crisis. There are several proposals that she has promised to pursue while others may be foisted on her by progressives in the Legislature. There is the All Electric Buildings Act, which she supported but did not get passed, to ban oil and gas hook-ups in all new building construction starting in a few years.</p> <p>Activists have also pushed her to support a slate of climate measures, chiefly the Build Public Renewables Act, which would allow the New York Power Authority to own and build new renewable energy projects, among other things. And they are pushing her to sign a two-year moratorium on new fossil-fuel crypto-currency mining, on which she has repeatedly vacillated and must make a decision by the end of this year. </p> <p>The Democratic consultant said Hochul’s agenda, and the respective priorities of moderates and progressives, aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. And that Hochul now has more power relative to the Legislature, particularly in a state that has a strong executive. “What happens when a new governor gets elected is everyone is seeking to set the agenda. Everyone is seeking to decide what issues she could and should pay attention to,” the consultant said. “And the thing that I think people often forget is when you have a new elected chief executive, whether it's a mayor or governor or president, they tend to hold a lot of the cards.”</p> <p>As the new power dynamics are sorted out, Hochul’s relationship with Mayor Adams will be among the most important. Both have shown and stressed a productive, collegial relationship in stark contrast to that between their predecessors, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Adams has credited Hochul for working together on a number of issues from taking on illegal guns to childcare funding, an expanded earned income tax credit, the new NYCHA Preservation Trust, and more.</p> <p>But he has also continuously undermined her efforts and messaging on public safety, especially with regard to the bail law, not acknowledging the changes she did get made in her lone state budget, which focus on repeat offenders, property theft, and gun possession cases. While Hochul has occasionally touted the changes and called for better implementation and patience, Adams has called the law flawed and pledged to seek the overhaul he wants in the next session. Having already frustrated legislative leaders, it is unclear how much Adams has aggravated Hochul, who had to face Zeldin repeatedly citing Adams during his campaign attacks on her. While the new governor needed Adams’ political support as she quickly faced election for the position, the power balance between the two has at least somewhat flipped now that she has won a term.</p> <p>There is plenty for the two top Democrats to work on together.</p> <p>Besides housing and climate investments, Hochul has also put her weight behind major infrastructure projects that will be closely observed by those watching her administration, many in New York City.</p> <p>She ushered through the $1.3 billion Buffalo Bills stadium deal, with $600 million in state subsidies, and will have to prove that it was worth the bill to taxpayers. Her administration is also moving ahead with the controversial redevelopment of Penn Station and its surrounding neighborhood, a project that has questionable finances and design, with a heavy emphasis on new office space. And the state, under her watch, is overseeing other projects that will take months or years to complete including East Side Access, the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, the rehabilitation of the Gateway tunnel, the Bronx MetroNorth expansion, and implementing congestion pricing in New York City.</p> <p>Hochul has also proposed a new “InterBorough Express” connecting Brooklyn and Queens via existing freight rail lines, a project only in its early planning phase.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
Max Politics Podcast: Messaging, Gender, and the 2022 New York Governor's Race 2022-11-12T14:00:00+00:00 2022-11-12T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11682-max-politics-podcast-gender-new-york-2022-governor-election-hochul-messaging Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-gender-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul with fellow women in office, advocacy (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 11, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Gender and New York's 2022 Elections<br /></strong></p> <p>Alexis Grenell, a Democratic strategist, co-founder of Pythia Public, and writer on politics and gender, joined the show to discuss Kathy Hochul's win as the first woman elected Governor of New York, messaging and gender in the campaign, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11682-max-politics-podcast-gender-new-york-2022-governor-election-hochul-messaging">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-gender-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul with fellow women in office, advocacy (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 11, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Gender and New York's 2022 Elections<br /></strong></p> <p>Alexis Grenell, a Democratic strategist, co-founder of Pythia Public, and writer on politics and gender, joined the show to discuss Kathy Hochul's win as the first woman elected Governor of New York, messaging and gender in the campaign, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11682-max-politics-podcast-gender-new-york-2022-governor-election-hochul-messaging">Read More ...</a></p> An Initial Look at Voter Turnout in New York's 2022 General Election 2022-11-10T16:00:00+00:00 2022-11-10T16:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11676-initial-voter-turnout-new-york-2022-general-election-hochul-zeldin Ethan Geringer-Sameth ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/an-initital-voter.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul votes (photo: @KathyHochul)</p> <hr /> <p>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.</p> <p>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%.</p> <p>In 2018, Democrats cruised to victories in statewide races, including Governor Andrew Cuomo winning a third time by 23 points, and picked up several State Senate and other local seats. Most of the drop-off in turnout seems to have been among Democrats — Zeldin got 459,000 more votes than the 2018 Republican nominee, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, while Hochul got 677,000 fewer votes than Cuomo did last cycle.</p> <p>But turnout this year is still higher than four of the five previous gubernatorial elections. It was significantly higher than the 33% turnout seen in the 2014 race – when Cuomo won a second term – which was the nadir of the last twenty years.</p> <p>Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo area Democrat and the first woman to be elected to New York's highest office, beat U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Long Island, 52-47%. It was a slimmer margin than any governor's race since Republican George Pataki unseated Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994. </p> <p>The preliminary data shows Zeldin was able to temper Hochul's lead by doing particularly well among voters on Long Island and making inroads in some parts of New York City. Hochul, the first Democratic nominee from outside the New York City area in at least the last 50 years, was able to buffer Zeldin in upstate New York, where Republicans typically excel, by turning out voters in key population centers like her native Buffalo, as well as Rochester, Albany, and Syracuse.</p> <p>As of November 1, New York had 6.5 million registered Democrats, 2.9 million registered Republicans, and over 3 million unaffiliated voters. In raw numbers, Hochul received upwards of 2.9 million votes and Zeldin got over 2.6 million.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br />New York City was both key to Hochul’s win but also a major source of the turnout drop-off from 2018. Roughly 33% of registered city voters cast ballots this fall compared to 41% in 2018. Turnout was still higher than the abysmal 23% showing in 2014.</p> <p>In raw numbers, close to 1.7 million New York City residents voted – accounting for roughly 30% of the statewide vote share. That’s out of 5.2 million registered voters in the five boroughs as of the November 1 tally posted by the State Board of Elections.</p> <p>Hochul beat Zeldin in the five boroughs by roughly 70-30%, a reliably wide margin in a city where registered Democrats drastically outnumber Republicans. Election strategists typically say a Republican candidate needs at least 30% of the city to have a chance of winning statewide. While Zeldin appears to have achieved that threshold, he was counting on a percentage closer to 35-37% in the city in order to win.</p> <p>His was still a relatively good showing for a Republican in the city. In 2018, Cuomo beat Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro 80-15% in the city. In 2014, he beat Astorino 76-17% among city voters.</p> <p>In the city's only Republican-leaning borough – Staten Island, which went to Zeldin 66-33% – turnout was 41%, the highest of any borough and the smallest drop (4 points) from 2018. Zeldin's wide margin is a striking shift from 2018, when Cuomo edged out Molinaro 49-48% on the island.</p> <p>In Congressional District 11, which covers Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, Republican incumbent Rep. Nicole Malliotakis beat challenger Max Rose by 24 points, 62-38%. The victory was a landslide in a district that has flipped twice in the previous two election cycles by six-point margins each time, with Rose winning in 2018 and Malliotakis unseating him in 2020.</p> <p>Roughly 38% of registered voters in Manhattan voted, an 8 point drop from the 46% turnout in 2018. Hochul carried the borough 82-18%, the widest margin of any of the five, but not without ceding ground to Republicans, who nearly doubled their vote share from 2018. That year Cuomo got 85% of the Manhattan vote to Molinaro's 10%.</p> <p>In the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, Republicans' vote share was more than double what it was in 2018, with a nearly threefold increase in the Bronx.</p> <p>The Bronx also saw the biggest drop in turnout from 2018 – from 36% down to 24%. Hochul beat Zeldin 77-22%, compared to Cuomo's 89-8% showing against Molinaro four years earlier.</p> <p>Turnout in Brooklyn was 33%, a drop from 40% in 2018. Hochul won the borough 71-28%. In 2018, Cuomo won 81-13%.</p> <p>Queens turnout was 32% this year, compared to 40% in 2018. Hochul beat Zeldin 63-37%, a narrower margin than in the other boroughs she won. In 2018, Cuomo, a Queens native, took the borough 78-18%.</p> <p><strong>Downstate Suburbs</strong><br />The voter-rich swing districts of the New York City suburbs are another area considered key to any potential Republican success in statewide contests. A number of congressional and State Senate seats in the region swung to Republicans in this election after Democratic gains in 2018 and 2020.</p> <p>Turnout in the suburbs was far higher than in the city, particularly on Long Island, where Zeldin rallied support among Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats to win by significant margins.</p> <p>Over 1 million voters cast ballots across Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, a turnout rate nearing 49% (not including a handful of Suffolk County election districts that hadn't reported results as of Wednesday morning). Roughly one in five New York State voters was a Long Islander this fall. Long Island accounts for less than 15% of the state population.</p> <p>Zeldin won in Nassau County 55-44% and Suffolk County 58-41%, according to preliminary numbers that could shift slightly as final votes are cast (absentee ballots tend to favor Democrats).</p> <p>Republicans won in all four congressional races on Long Island by margins ranging from 4 to 22 points and flipped four State Senate seats there.</p> <p>The city's northern suburbs, in Westchester and Rockland counties, were more divided. In total, the two counties had 352,000 votes for governor, a turnout rate of 40%. Those votes accounted for roughly 6% of the statewide vote.</p> <p>Hochul won in Westchester 57-43% and lost Rockland 43-56%.</p> <p>Northern Westchester, Rockland, and parts of Putnam County were also the site of the race for Congressional District 17, one of the most-watched House races in the country and, like New York's other swing districts, one that could determine the balance of power in Congress’ lower chamber. Republican challenger Mike Lawler, an Assembly member, unseated incumbent Democrat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in that district, an upset making national headlines given Maloney’s position as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The preliminary results show Lawler leading Maloney 52-46%.</p> <p>Republicans also picked up a State Senate seat in the Hudson Valley, where Democratic incumbent Elijah Reichlin-Melnick lost to Republican Bill Weber by a narrow margin in a rematch of two years ago.</p> <p><strong>Key Upstate Counties</strong><br />In Hochul's hometown of Buffalo and the surrounding Erie County, close to 338,000 residents, 51% of the county's registered voters, went to the polls. The governor won there 52-46%.</p> <p>In the state capital region, 115,343 Albany County residents voted, a turnout rate of 53%. Albany County went to Hochul 58-41%.</p> <p>Monroe County, home to Rochester, had 273,000 votes for governor, a turnout rate of 52%. Hochul won there 53-46%.</p> <p>In Onondaga County, where Syracuse stands, 166,000 residents, or 51% of enrolled voters, turned out. Hochul won Onondaga 53-46%. That may not be enough to make a difference in the down-ballot race for State Senate in Syracuse, where Democratic incumbent John Mannion is trailing Republican Rebecca Shiroff by under a point, or fewer than 400 votes.</p> <p>For the most part, like other Republican nominees before him, Zeldin swept almost all of the least populous counties in the state. With some votes still being counted, he appears to have won a total of 49 out of 62 counties in the state.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/an-initital-voter.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Hochul votes (photo: @KathyHochul)</p> <hr /> <p>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.</p> <p>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%.</p> <p>In 2018, Democrats cruised to victories in statewide races, including Governor Andrew Cuomo winning a third time by 23 points, and picked up several State Senate and other local seats. Most of the drop-off in turnout seems to have been among Democrats — Zeldin got 459,000 more votes than the 2018 Republican nominee, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, while Hochul got 677,000 fewer votes than Cuomo did last cycle.</p> <p>But turnout this year is still higher than four of the five previous gubernatorial elections. It was significantly higher than the 33% turnout seen in the 2014 race – when Cuomo won a second term – which was the nadir of the last twenty years.</p> <p>Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo area Democrat and the first woman to be elected to New York's highest office, beat U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Long Island, 52-47%. It was a slimmer margin than any governor's race since Republican George Pataki unseated Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994. </p> <p>The preliminary data shows Zeldin was able to temper Hochul's lead by doing particularly well among voters on Long Island and making inroads in some parts of New York City. Hochul, the first Democratic nominee from outside the New York City area in at least the last 50 years, was able to buffer Zeldin in upstate New York, where Republicans typically excel, by turning out voters in key population centers like her native Buffalo, as well as Rochester, Albany, and Syracuse.</p> <p>As of November 1, New York had 6.5 million registered Democrats, 2.9 million registered Republicans, and over 3 million unaffiliated voters. In raw numbers, Hochul received upwards of 2.9 million votes and Zeldin got over 2.6 million.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br />New York City was both key to Hochul’s win but also a major source of the turnout drop-off from 2018. Roughly 33% of registered city voters cast ballots this fall compared to 41% in 2018. Turnout was still higher than the abysmal 23% showing in 2014.</p> <p>In raw numbers, close to 1.7 million New York City residents voted – accounting for roughly 30% of the statewide vote share. That’s out of 5.2 million registered voters in the five boroughs as of the November 1 tally posted by the State Board of Elections.</p> <p>Hochul beat Zeldin in the five boroughs by roughly 70-30%, a reliably wide margin in a city where registered Democrats drastically outnumber Republicans. Election strategists typically say a Republican candidate needs at least 30% of the city to have a chance of winning statewide. While Zeldin appears to have achieved that threshold, he was counting on a percentage closer to 35-37% in the city in order to win.</p> <p>His was still a relatively good showing for a Republican in the city. In 2018, Cuomo beat Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro 80-15% in the city. In 2014, he beat Astorino 76-17% among city voters.</p> <p>In the city's only Republican-leaning borough – Staten Island, which went to Zeldin 66-33% – turnout was 41%, the highest of any borough and the smallest drop (4 points) from 2018. Zeldin's wide margin is a striking shift from 2018, when Cuomo edged out Molinaro 49-48% on the island.</p> <p>In Congressional District 11, which covers Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, Republican incumbent Rep. Nicole Malliotakis beat challenger Max Rose by 24 points, 62-38%. The victory was a landslide in a district that has flipped twice in the previous two election cycles by six-point margins each time, with Rose winning in 2018 and Malliotakis unseating him in 2020.</p> <p>Roughly 38% of registered voters in Manhattan voted, an 8 point drop from the 46% turnout in 2018. Hochul carried the borough 82-18%, the widest margin of any of the five, but not without ceding ground to Republicans, who nearly doubled their vote share from 2018. That year Cuomo got 85% of the Manhattan vote to Molinaro's 10%.</p> <p>In the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, Republicans' vote share was more than double what it was in 2018, with a nearly threefold increase in the Bronx.</p> <p>The Bronx also saw the biggest drop in turnout from 2018 – from 36% down to 24%. Hochul beat Zeldin 77-22%, compared to Cuomo's 89-8% showing against Molinaro four years earlier.</p> <p>Turnout in Brooklyn was 33%, a drop from 40% in 2018. Hochul won the borough 71-28%. In 2018, Cuomo won 81-13%.</p> <p>Queens turnout was 32% this year, compared to 40% in 2018. Hochul beat Zeldin 63-37%, a narrower margin than in the other boroughs she won. In 2018, Cuomo, a Queens native, took the borough 78-18%.</p> <p><strong>Downstate Suburbs</strong><br />The voter-rich swing districts of the New York City suburbs are another area considered key to any potential Republican success in statewide contests. A number of congressional and State Senate seats in the region swung to Republicans in this election after Democratic gains in 2018 and 2020.</p> <p>Turnout in the suburbs was far higher than in the city, particularly on Long Island, where Zeldin rallied support among Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats to win by significant margins.</p> <p>Over 1 million voters cast ballots across Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, a turnout rate nearing 49% (not including a handful of Suffolk County election districts that hadn't reported results as of Wednesday morning). Roughly one in five New York State voters was a Long Islander this fall. Long Island accounts for less than 15% of the state population.</p> <p>Zeldin won in Nassau County 55-44% and Suffolk County 58-41%, according to preliminary numbers that could shift slightly as final votes are cast (absentee ballots tend to favor Democrats).</p> <p>Republicans won in all four congressional races on Long Island by margins ranging from 4 to 22 points and flipped four State Senate seats there.</p> <p>The city's northern suburbs, in Westchester and Rockland counties, were more divided. In total, the two counties had 352,000 votes for governor, a turnout rate of 40%. Those votes accounted for roughly 6% of the statewide vote.</p> <p>Hochul won in Westchester 57-43% and lost Rockland 43-56%.</p> <p>Northern Westchester, Rockland, and parts of Putnam County were also the site of the race for Congressional District 17, one of the most-watched House races in the country and, like New York's other swing districts, one that could determine the balance of power in Congress’ lower chamber. Republican challenger Mike Lawler, an Assembly member, unseated incumbent Democrat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in that district, an upset making national headlines given Maloney’s position as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The preliminary results show Lawler leading Maloney 52-46%.</p> <p>Republicans also picked up a State Senate seat in the Hudson Valley, where Democratic incumbent Elijah Reichlin-Melnick lost to Republican Bill Weber by a narrow margin in a rematch of two years ago.</p> <p><strong>Key Upstate Counties</strong><br />In Hochul's hometown of Buffalo and the surrounding Erie County, close to 338,000 residents, 51% of the county's registered voters, went to the polls. The governor won there 52-46%.</p> <p>In the state capital region, 115,343 Albany County residents voted, a turnout rate of 53%. Albany County went to Hochul 58-41%.</p> <p>Monroe County, home to Rochester, had 273,000 votes for governor, a turnout rate of 52%. Hochul won there 53-46%.</p> <p>In Onondaga County, where Syracuse stands, 166,000 residents, or 51% of enrolled voters, turned out. Hochul won Onondaga 53-46%. That may not be enough to make a difference in the down-ballot race for State Senate in Syracuse, where Democratic incumbent John Mannion is trailing Republican Rebecca Shiroff by under a point, or fewer than 400 votes.</p> <p>For the most part, like other Republican nominees before him, Zeldin swept almost all of the least populous counties in the state. With some votes still being counted, he appears to have won a total of 49 out of 62 counties in the state.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Max Politics Podcast: Examining Hochul's Win, Other 2022 New York Election Results, with Basil Smikle Jr. 2022-11-10T05:00:00+00:00 2022-11-10T05:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11675-max-politics-podcaspodcast-2022-new-york-election-results-smikle Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-gk-bs600.jpg" /></p> <p>Gov. Kathy Hochul &amp; Basil Smikle Jr. (photo: @BasilSmiklePhD)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Breaking Down the 2022 New York Election Results, with Basil Smikle<br /></strong></p> <p>Dr. Basil Smikle Jr., former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party and currently a professor at Hunter College, joined the show to break down the results of New York's 2022 general election.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11675-max-politics-podcaspodcast-2022-new-york-election-results-smikle">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-gk-bs600.jpg" /></p> <p>Gov. Kathy Hochul &amp; Basil Smikle Jr. (photo: @BasilSmiklePhD)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Breaking Down the 2022 New York Election Results, with Basil Smikle<br /></strong></p> <p>Dr. Basil Smikle Jr., former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party and currently a professor at Hunter College, joined the show to break down the results of New York's 2022 general election.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11675-max-politics-podcaspodcast-2022-new-york-election-results-smikle">Read More ...</a></p>