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Morning Spew

Fridays Are for Rikers Being Put Under Federal Receivership

Comptroller Brad Lander becomes the first City official to support a federal takeover of Rikers, Councilmember Julie Won continues to piss off YIMBYs, and more of what we're reading today.

5:35 AM EDT on October 14, 2022

On Thursday, Comptroller Brad Lander became the first City official to call for Rikers Island to be put under federal receivership, pitting him squarely against Mayor Eric Adams and Correction Department Commissioner Louis Molina.

Here's what Lander had to say:

"Admittedly with some trepidation, I have come to the conclusion that to address the short-term crisis–which is rooted largely in deeply entrenched mismanagement of staff and union leadership recalcitrance – a receiver should be appointed. A receiver will not be able to magically fix what has been broken at Rikers for decades. But a receiver would be empowered to make decisions that the City has failed to adequately contend with for many years, whether by lack of will or through inability due to legal, regulatory or other barriers. To change the systems for assigning staff to posts, to end the abuse of sick leave, to change some of the qualification for hiring, to procure repairs and services and goods more promptly."

To date, sixteen people have died while in City custody this year, equaling the number of people that died in 2021. Meanwhile, instead of addressing the numerous issues plaguing Rikers Island and other City jails, DOC Commissioner Molina is instead pushing hard for the ability to dole out harsher punishments to people incarcerated on Rikers. Via The CITY:

The city’s jails commissioner has asked to lock some detainees down for 17 hours a day, up from the current 10 hours, as punishment, citing a spike in slashings at one facility on Rikers Island — just two weeks after a heated City Council hearing on a bill that would ban solitary confinement entirely. 

Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina on Tuesday submitted the so-called variance request for people inside the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) on Rikers to the Board of Correction, which oversees the department.

According to The CITY, Molina defended keeping people holed up inside cells for the majority of the day as "not unreasonable," saying it “is a far cry from solitary confinement.” He noted, per The CITY, "that several other cities in the country allow less time out for so-called punitive segregation"—which is not necessarily a ringing endorsement, is it.

Some more links for your reading pleasure:

  • Elected officials held a rally to demand that Mayor Adams not house asylum seekers in a tent city.
  • City Councilmember Julie Won is planning to oppose the Innovation QNS rezoning, according to Politico. In this, Won is siding with some Astoria residents who oppose the proposal, which currently includes thousands of affordable apartments, over fears that the development would price them out of the neighborhood. (Spoiler alert: You're already being priced out! Push for Good Cause Eviction!) In a letter she wrote to other members of the council, Won wrote: "Approving this rezoning with minimal affordability would result in displacement, rising rents, and amplify infrastructure challenges. It would also send a message to our communities that the Council will work around them and their representatives for the profit of large real estate interests." What's that sound you hear? It's YIMBYs howling in rage.
  • NYCHA residents wait an average of 310 days for basic, non-emergency repairs, according to the agency's own data—contradicting the data in this year's Mayor's Management Report.
  • A Queens man will be subpoenaed and he continues to be in trouble with New York Attorney General Letitia James.
  • Gary Arndt, a retired NYPD cop who has since become a judge (??) in an upstate county (??), was disciplined by the state because he sucks at his job. Just one example: During a small claims case, he reportedly stated, "You’re really asking the court an awful lot to try and figure out on this, okay? It's extremely confusing and there's two words against—the two of you against each other," before admitting, "This is not something I can do fairly and understand…I'm not that qualified to take care of it, to be honest with you."
  • Rat therapists??

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