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Morning Spew

New Year’s Resolution: More High-Handed Shadiness in Albany

Our newly elected governor prepares to give her State of State, and some links to start your Tuesday.

(Mike Groll / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

This afternoon, Governor Kathy Hochul will deliver her first State of the State address as an elected governor. New York is facing a massive shortage of affordable housing, is bleeding residents, and the state still hasn't recovered jobs lost during the pandemic, especially among low-income communities. Our healthcare system is straining under the profit-driven private healthcare providers it relies on, and nurses have had enough. On top of all that, New York is quickly coming up on a hard deadline to get off powering itself through greenhouse gases, meaning that the state has to immediately get its grid coursing with wind, solar, and hydroelectricity; the state will need to take action on infrastructure on a level it hasn't done since midcentury when it built up its reservoir and highway systems. Our public transit system needs billions of dollars in state money to avoid a fare hike and a subsequent death spiral.

Ahead of today's speech, Hochul has signaled that she wants more housing, by unleashing developers on the state to build, build, build. This morning, her office also previewed her announcement of a $1 billion dollar plan to address New York's mental health crisis, including restoring psychiatric beds her predecessor got rid of. More big plans are sure to follow, as the State of the State acts as a table setter for budget negotiations this spring with the state legislature. The budget negotiation process is the only system through which New York's legislature and governor pass anything substantive, in a strange and deeply anti-democratic quirk of the way New York state is run. So a lot is riding on this speech and the subsequent budget negotiations. Most people agree New York's government needs to come up big in the next few months and to that end, New York's leaders must all be deeply focused and playing nice, right? Ha! Haha! Hahaha!

Hochul has spent the new year defending Hector LaSalle, her pick for the top post on the state's Court of Appeals, which will ultimately decide the legality of many of the policies the state legislature hopes to spin out over the next few years. LaSalle's nomination is opposed by unions and progressive Democrats, who object to the appointment of yet another former prosecutor and point to what they characterize as anti-union and anti-choice decisions LaSalle has made in his judicial career, as well as his bleak consideration of the rights of criminal defendants. As a result, LaSalle's nomination, which must be approved by the state senate, seems likely to go down in flames. More than enough Democrats are ready to sink his nomination, but Hochul has stood firmly behind LaSalle, insisting that the nomination will ultimately move forward. Some prominent Latino Democrats, as well as a few Republicans (and the New York Post) are still backing Hochul's pick

On Monday, opponents of the nomination, including state senators and organized labor, rallied in Albany and called on Hochul to withdraw the nomination. Union leaders like Jimmy Mahoney of the Iron Workers pointed out that it was organized labor and progressives that helped push Hochul's deeply ineffective gubernatorial campaign over the finish line in a tight election in November.

"The way it was rolled out was so unprofessional and so back-stabbing," Mahoney said, describing the nomination of LaSalle. "You just can't do this. You take us for granted."

Well, Hochul isn't taking labor and progressives for granted. Instead, she's shutting this one out of her speech today:

She's also limiting access to the state capitol in anticipation of pro-affordable housing protests

The leaves turn, the sun rises, and Albany remains mired in pettiness and dysfunction. 

Now here are some links to start your day!

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