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I’m Not Owned, Kathy Hochul Insists After Second Self-Inflicted Defeat

"This vote is an important victory for the Constitution," Hochul said after the full State Senate voted down her nominee to be NY's top judge.

Governor Kathy Hochul announces 4.5 Million from NY Forward Program to the Garment District of New York City (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

Governor Kathy Hochul announces 4.5 Million from NY Forward Program to the Garment District of New York City (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

On Wednesday, the entire State Senate voted down Governor Kathy Hochul's pick to be the chief judge on the state's highest court. Two of Judge Hector LaSalle's most ardent Democratic supporters were out of town (one was reportedly in Dubai), but they wouldn't have mattered, as the nominee lost 20-39.

"This vote is an important victory for the Constitution," Hochul said in a statement after the tally. "But it was not a vote on the merits of Justice LaSalle, who is an overwhelmingly qualified and talented jurist. Now that the full Senate has taken a vote, I will work toward making a new nomination."

On one hand, you could say that LaSalle was denied due process under the state constitution when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted his nomination down last month and then refused to take a full vote; this is what Republicans argued when they filed a lawsuit against the State Senate last week, and it's also what Hochul and other LaSalle boosters professed to believe. How dare anyone inject petty politics into such an important decision! 

On the other hand, the hand that grasps how politics works, the LaSalle nomination was effectively killed on January 18, after that 10-9 committee vote, which itself followed five hours of testimony from the jurist himself, during which lawmakers raised many questions about the decisions he made, and concluded that he would not do, thus signaling to the Democratic supermajority and Hochul that the governor clearly needed to find a different person for the position, which is, after all, a political appointment. (Oh, and the Republicans did what they did to try and make Democrats look stupid, because that is their job, as Republicans.)

So what did the governor gain from this standoff with her own party? What was the point? (One Democratic Albany insider texted Hell Gate a shrug emoji when asked a version of this question.) Is she racking up spite points to veto more of the supermajority's legislation? Will she point to LaSalle when she refuses to bend on some major sticking points in the budget? (And will the legislature care?) "My position is this: I've been called an iron fist inside of a velvet glove. Sometimes the glove comes off, sometimes it doesn't have to," Hochul told reporters on Wednesday. "We can handle Albany." OK!

And why did LaSalle put himself through this? The man traveled from Long Island to Albany for a last-minute vote to sit and watch his nomination tank! Better to publicly flame out than, uh, respectfully pull your nomination and go back to your day job as one of the most powerful jurists in the state? I'm no judge, but that's an easy call.

Here are some links to click on while you ponder the governor's game of 10-dimensional chess:

  • Mayor Eric Adams was in his old stomping grounds (Albany) on Wednesday to ask for more money for New Yorkers. Oddly, it's known as "Tin Cup Day" and not "Fund the Fucking Economic and Social Engine of This Entire State, Mmkay? Day." The mayor said that the City needs more money to shelter asylum seekers, that he does not want a fare increase for MTA riders, but also that the City can't afford to chip in another $500 million every year for the transit system, per Hochul's request. 
  • Also, Mayor Adams, whose mayoral campaign is always taking in a shitload of money from the real estate lobby ("I am real estate"), told state lawmakers that he does not support Good Cause Eviction because of its potential impact on "small property owners" like himself. Note to Eric Adams: Good Cause Eviction legislation exempts property owners who live in their three-unit buildings.
  • But seriously: If he eats dinner at midnight, when does Mayor Adams sleep?
  • Chris Cuomo apparently had some very tough times after being fired from CNN. Hell Gate is sincerely glad that he feels better.
  • The Build Public Renewables Act passed the State Senate. Will it survive the Assembly? Or more pressingly: Will Hochul veto it?
  • One of the myths that the pandemic destroyed was that sad lunch places like Hale & Hearty were good. They were not good, they were bad. But hey, now you can get the recipes for the bad soup now
  • New York City correction officers and ICE agents were cooperating, despite the City's assurances that they weren't. 
  • A company co-founded by Frank Carone, Mayor Adams's former top advisor, apparently owes a whole lot in back rent! Gotta keep those small landlords afloat Frank, c'mon now, do your part.
  • And finally: Alden Global Capital, get your fucking shit together!!!
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