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Morning Spew

Perhaps Kathy Hochul Is Not Very Good at This Whole Politics Thing

Exhibits A, B, and C: Hector LaSalle. And more news for your Friday!

9:28 AM EST on February 10, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul presents her Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget proposal in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

In January, Democrats on the State Senate's Judiciary Committee voted down Hector LaSalle, the Democratic governor's pick to be the state's top judge. In response, Governor Kathy Hochul all but vowed to go to war with her own party in order to compel that the full State Senate weigh in on his nomination, and Albany buzzed with talk of her filing a lawsuit. On Thursday, after almost a month with no official updates on the status of LaSalle's nomination, a lawsuit was indeed filed—but by Republican State Senator Anthony Palumbo.

Hochul and Palumbo have the same argument—that, as Palumbo wrote in his complaint, "Pursuant to the Constitution, the entire 63-member Senate must be given the opportunity to vote on Justice LaSalle's nomination."

When it comes to LaSalle, it almost doesn't matter what happens with this lawsuit. His nomination still seems dead in the water, and the only question is how exactly it will die. If LaSalle's nomination goes to the full State Senate as a result of Republican machinations, no one seriously thinks that enough Democrats will go along with Republicans and throw their support behind LaSalle. (What's more interesting about this lawsuit, and likely a big reason it was filed, is the implications it might have for who ultimately holds the most power in our state government). 

It's worth revisiting all of the steps that got us here, which started with Hochul nominating the one candidate that labor unions were opposed to, and then continued with the governor refusing to withdraw LaSalle's nomination even as huge swathes of the Democratic Party coalition—progressives, centrists, women's rights groups, labor, the NAACP, you name it—sharply criticized her nominee. Along the way, Hochul made some, uh, interesting comments tying LaSalle to Martin Luther King Jr., which certainly didn't help! 

But instead of backing off, she kept digging in. (According to one political commentator who's pretty well-sourced on the nomination, LaSalle wasn't making things easy for Hochul, who allegedly wanted him to withdraw on his own.) If there's any takeaway to be had from this mess, perhaps it's the most obvious one—that our governor is not very good at this whole politics thing.

Some links (some good, some not very good) for your Friday:

  • Fighting with almost everyone in your party: good. Health insurance for undocumented New Yorkers: ehhh, not so much.
  • Mayor Eric Adams, who has yet to hire his much-vaunted rat czar, still has a rat problem at his home in Brooklyn. Via Gothamist: "Mayor Eric Adams blamed the rat problem at his Brooklyn home on a neighbor Thursday, arguing at a hearing that he shouldn't be on the hook for $1,200 in fines for the infestation…'The entire block is infested with a serious rodent problem,' Adams told the judge."
  • Wait, I thought we needed an austerity budget? 
  • Here's another story involving George Santos, puppies, and some bad checks
  • The City Council's Progressive Caucus is shrinking, which is perhaps a good thing. (Have you seen some of the names on the list?)
  • Bill de Blasio is still looking for a job
  • Amanda Masters, the head of NYC's Board of Correction, is resigning, after the Department of Correction, in what could easily be seen as a retaliatory move in response to reporting done by NY1 and others, limited the oversight body's access to jail security footage
  • Adam White was right. Via Streetsblog: "The driver who called police on attorney Adam White after he fixed the obscured license plate on a Chevy SUV in November is cozy with law enforcement, Streetsblog has learned. Sholem Klein, whose name only became public when White filed a notice of claim against him for wrongful arrest on Thursday night, is the head of the Rockaway Nassau Safety Patrol. The 44-year-old lives in Nassau County and patrols parts of eastern Queens and southwestern Long Island in a black SUV equipped with flashing lights and tinted windows as the leader of a local Shomrim group—a controversial volunteer patrol group that works in tandem with police…According to social media accounts, Klein works closely with the 100th and 101st Precincts, as well as the Nassau County PD. They have fun together, too, playing in a first responder's softball game, according to pictures of Klein that Streetsblog saw before he locked his social media account, as well as public police accounts."
  • The NYPD is now investigating the case of Flamingo, the pigeon who was dyed pink and subsequently died, which means we'll never find out who did it.
  • Hey, let's check in on the BQE! Wait, oh no… 
  • While we're at it, let's check in on the status of outdoor dining! City Council, you there? Hello? 
  • Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg finally goes on the offensive against Mark Pomerantz, whose claims that he was stonewalled with his Trump investigation don't seem to quite hold water. 
  • Fight! Fight! Fight!
  • Aren't happy hours supposed to be fun?
  • An update on the HarperCollins strike:
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