letters of correspondence
Playing With Fire
As Mayor Bill de Blasio and other supporters of the mayor’s plan to tax rich New York City residents to fund universal pre-K rally in Albany today, assembly members across the five boroughs have almost completely unified around the proposal.
Veni vidi vito
New Yorkers may no longer be able to buy lighters that look like the Statue of Liberty or that cute cow in the photograph to the left.
The New York State Assembly approved a ban on novelty lighters today, joining the State Senate, which did so last week, and leaving the bill just a gubernatorial signature away from becoming law.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Vito Lopez may have left the State Assembly last month in the wake of bombshell sexual harassment allegations, but an electoral war for his former district is still heating up. According to sources, Maritza Davila, Mr. Lopez’s co-district leader who nearly unseated Councilwoman Diana Reyna four years ago, will run for his old job.
Two days ago, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said New York State corruption cases were beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, he was rather prescient. This afternoon, Mr. Bharara unsealed charges against Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, making him the third New York City lawmaker to be charged with corruption this week. Additionally, another Bronx Assemblyman, Nelson Castro, was the cooperating witness in the latest case and will resign today.
“So here we go again,” Mr. Bharara began. “This has become something of a habit. For the second time in three days, we unsealed criminal charges against a sitting member of the State Legislature. And based on what is alleged in this complaint, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that the ‘show me the money’ culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz is due to appear in court later this month after he was arrested for marijuana possession following a traffic stop on the New York State Thruway yesterday morning. According to the New York State Police, who amusingly spell marijuana with an “H,” when Mr. Katz was stopped for speeding the trooper smelled the drug in his car and subsequently found him to be in “possession of a small bag of marihuana.”
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is standing by his decision to don a Purim costume that some people have described as offensive “blackface.” The outfit, which consisted of brown face paint, an afro wig and sunglasses in what Mr. Hikind described as a representation of a “black basketball player”provoked widespread outrage after Politicker first wrote about it this morning. However, in a post on his personal website bluntly titled “It’s Purim. People Dress Up,” Mr. Hikind argued his critics don’t understand the nature of the Purim holiday, a costume and wine-fueled reverie commemorating a time when Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
Assemblyman Vito Lopez has a new problem on his hands to go along with the ethics committee that is investigating him for sexual harassment complaints filed by four female former staffers. Some time this afternoon a hacker gained control of Mr. Lopez’s Twitter account and began posting a series of messages insulting the embattled politician and praising one of his rivals.
“We’re trying to figure this out,” a staffer in Mr. Lopez’s district office said when Politicker called them to ask about the hacker a few moments ago.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who frequently crosses party lines to endorse Republican candidates for office, is taking his support for Mitt Romney’s presidential bid to the next level. Indeed, later this week, Mr. Hikind will hit the campaign trail in the biggest swing state, Florida, in an attempt to help deliver the critical Sunshine State into Mr. Romney’s column, according to the Jewish political blog Gestetner Updates.
Last Thursday, Walter Mosley was elected to succeed Hakeem Jeffries in Brooklyn’s 57th Assembly District. Mr. Mosley was supported by Mr. Jeffries, who left the seat to run a successful congressional campaign, and the race was largely seen as a referendum on Mr. Jeffries’ ability to deliver for another candidate in his Central Brooklyn base. Politicker sat down with Mr. Jeffries yesterday to get his post-game analysis on Mr. Mosley’s campaign and the endorsements that didn’t go their way. Mr. Jeffries also talked about his plans for moving to Washington, his thoughts on the future of the Brooklyn Democratic Party in the wake of the Vito Lopez scandal and discussed ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ on the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Hakeem Jeffries isn’t officially a congressman yet, but the rising Democratic Party star is already facing the first major test of his political power since he won the Democratic primary for New York’s 8th Congressional District June 26. With that victory, Mr. Jeffries virtually guaranteed himself a ticket to Washington to represent the overwhelmingly Democratic Brooklyn district following the general election in November. However, there is still the matter of who will replace Mr. Jeffries in the State Assembly seat he vacated to pursue his congressional campaign. Mr. Jeffries is backing District Leader Walter Mosley to succeed him in the 57th Assembly District, but Mr. Mosley has two tough opponents in that race today and insiders are keeping a close eye on the contest to see whether Mr. Jeffries can deliver his old district to his chosen heir.
“I know all three candidates, but I’ve worked closely with Walter over the last six years that I’ve been in the Legislature. We’ve worked on a wide variety of issues of significance,” Mr. Jeffries told Politicker this afternoon. “He’s been there as a close ally to help improve the quality of the public schools in the neighborhood, fight to stand up for senior citizens, to reform the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices, fighting with me to create and preserve affordable housing. On every single issue of significance, Walter Mosley has been there. There are going to be some very important issues to be decided in the State Legislature moving forward and I have the greatest degree of confidence in Walter that he can continue the work that needs to be done on behalf of the people in this wonderful community.