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Hell Gate’s NYC Winners and Losers of 2023

Some people (and entities) had a good year in New York. Others, not so much.

11:13 AM EST on December 29, 2023

(Left: Brandon Todd/New York Liberty, @NYCMayor on X. Right: PFHLai / Wikicommons)

Here at Hell Gate, we're loath to categorize people or things...without first delving into a 45,000-word interactive project explaining why we're categorizing people and to what end. That's called journalism, and we're proud to practice it. 

But sometimes, the role of the fourth estate is to just simply sort through the winners and the losers, holding up the winners as paradigms of success, while scorning the losers, who have seen failure firsthand this year and nodded in self-recognition. 

So in that spirit, and without too much explanation, Hell Gate presents: New York's WINNERS and LOSERS of 2023. 

Let's start with the WINNERS

— DELIVERISTAS: After years of advocating, organizing, and mobilizing, Deliveristas finally got a wage increase this year (although it was needlessly watered down by the Adams administration), and then overcame some truly cold-hearted legal attempts to stop the wage increase from happening by the app companies that exploit them to the tune of millions. Also, for better or worse, they definitely now run these streets (and sometimes sidewalks), so make sure to look both ways when stepping off that curb!

—FERRIES: New York subsidizes its ferries an outrageous amount, but also, who cares! All public transit should be handsomely subsidized and ferry ridership is going up, up, up because New Yorkers love their waterways AND fresh air AND those long, nighttime summer rides back from the Rockaways, in the dark of the open-air upper deck; Coney Island sparkling like a shoreside playset, and maybe you're still just a little buzzed from the beach…It's a good vibe, folks. Ferries for all. 

WOMEN'S SPORTS TEAMS IN NEW YORK: Outside of the outstandingly average Knicks (which is probably their fated peak), New York's men's sports teams had a truly awful year. Jets, Giants, Mets, Yankees…There's also hockey but who cares…because they're all TRASH. But the women? The Liberty came oh-so-close to winning a title, while the Gotham FC actually did! Women cleaned up, men should clear out, we spent all of our money on Liberty merch and regret nothing. 

SCAMMY URGENT CARE COMPANIES: Want to bill people for care you originally said was free? Want to pivot hard into running shelters for migrants—even though you have no experience doing that—and win lucrative no-bid contracts from Mayor Eric Adams (who also speaks at your investor meeting for some reason)? Become an urgent care company! Big W's for them this year. 

—FLACO: Step one: Break out of enclosure in Central Park zoo. Step two: Break into the hearts of millions. Step three: Fuck? Fingers crossed. We're rooting for you Flaco!

DRIVERS WHO OBSCURE THEIR LICENSE PLATES OR JUST HAVE FAKE ONES: It was a great year to drive around with a temporary license plate that expired months ago, issued by the great state of Minnesota. That's because no one gave a shit about it—and probably no one ever will. After all, the cops in charge of enforcing those laws are themselves perps of license plate defacement and fraud. Sure, the MTA is trying to collect $1 billion in tolls a year, so something's gotta give—but based on their performance this year, we're feeling like fake license plates aren't actually going anywhere. 

—GUYS WHO HAPPEN TO TAKE GRAINY PICTURES OF A FEDERAL RAID OF A MAYORAL CAMPAIGN STAFFER:

Hell yeah, sir. 

—COVID: Remains undefeated, more prevalent than ever, constantly evolving, possibly chilling in your body right now. Global champion for four years running. 

—JUMAANE WILLIAMS: Public advocate is not a very important position, but there's really two things one can do with it—propose and pass legislation through the City Council and…become mayor. This year, Jumaane Williams did one of those things with the passage of his bill banning solitary confinement in city jails and another bill mandating that the NYPD document low-level stops amidst a return to stop-and-frisk tactics under the Adams administration. And while Williams has repeatedly said he won't run against Eric Adams in 2025, if Adams resigned or otherwise failed to complete his current term, the public advocate would become mayor. Wink, wink. Considering the past two public advocates became mayor and the state's attorney general, Williams is sitting pretty while in a fairly responsibility-free position. 

—BIOLOGISTS: Let's not forget that Hell Gate broke some biology ground this year when biologists (our good friends) confirmed a rare recorded instance of raccoon masturbation for us. That's a win for us, for science, and for self-loving raccoons everywhere. 

BILL DE BLASIO: The former mayor is truly living his best life with the many fine women of New York City (married or not). Also, he's sporting new hair. Everything about Bill de Blasio these days screams winner. Go get 'em, tiger. 

THE PEOPLE WHO WANT THE KILLING TO CONTINUE: Big year for people who are in favor of killing people to continue, unabated, in horrifying and senseless ways, forever. 

LOSERS:

—OUTDOOR DINING: By making the program seasonal and instituting hard-to-meet rules for new structures, the City Council has effectively killed the city's successful outdoor dining program, leaving restaurant owners feeling "disposable and erasable." Enjoy outdoor dining through the summer, because next fall, we'll all be back inside. 

—LIBRARIES: Used earlier this year as a cudgel by City Hall to exact budget cuts elsewhere in the City, the libraries eventually faced cuts themselves by the end of the year. Now Sunday service at almost all libraries are a thing of the past

—NEW YORK MEN'S SPORTS TEAMS: Like we said: Trash! 

—DIMES SQUARE: Oh fuck, remember this whole thing? Turns out it didn't have much cultural resonance. We're still waiting for the Crumps auto fictional novel, though

—ERIC ULRICH: Ulrich, the former NYC Buildings Commissioner under Eric Adams, was indicted by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for having allegedly "monetized each and every elected role that he held in government." Woof. His price? Some cash and Mets season tickets (only a partial game plan, too). 

—NYC'S RIGHT-TO-SHELTER MANDATE: Speaking of Erics, Eric Adams spent this year trying to test the limits of New York City's right-to-shelter mandate, as migrants continued to arrive in the city. While the City is mandated by a legal settlement it signed to provide shelter for homeless New Yorkers, Adams has tried to exclude migrants from that mandate at every turn, from making migrants reapply for shelter every thirty to sixty days, to making them sleep outside on freezing cold streets just to get back into the shelter system. While judges have held the City to its responsibilities in court, the actual conditions on city streets have rendered the policy effectively over—and those losing the most in the process are the migrants themselves, who came to the city for a better life, and found no room at the inn

—RENTERS: Evictions are still soaring, rent is still skyrocketing, and any hope for tenant protections during this year's legislative session came crashing down to earth with a thud. Next year isn't looking so great, either. Once again, it stinks to be beholden to the rentier class! 

—LOCAL LAW 97: The 2019 law that's meant to get New York City's buildings to massively reduce their spewing of planet-killing carbon is already being gutted by the Adams administration. RIP snow, RIP habitable planet. 

—DECENT HARD-WORKING AMERICANS WHO JUST WANT TO DRIVE THEIR SUVS INTO MIDTOWN LIKE THE FRAMERS INTENDED: That'll be $15, or you can just deface your license plate (see section above, winners).

—THE PEOPLE WHO WANT THE KILLING TO STOP: Bad year for people who understand that extinguishing a life is destroying an entire universe and that the spiritual toll for doing such a thing is immense and inescapable. No one listened to them. 

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