MTA Transit Chief Resigns + Council Member Espinal Resigns

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Local News:

  • The MTA transit chief Andy Byford resigned on Thursday, after threatening to multiple times in the past year. Because part of Byford’s frustrations had to do with gubernatorial meddling into the scope of his work, this resignation is seen as a blow to Cuomo. In the wake of his resignation, some officials, including New York City Council Speaker Carey Johnson, are renewing calls for municipal control of the city’s trains and buses.

  • In his executive budget proposal on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo focused on Medicaid spending reductions as the primary way to close the State’s $6.1 billion budget deficit. Additionally, Cuomo announced a far lower increase in educational spending than experts say is needed. Despite these proposed cuts to spending, he touted continuing middle-class tax cuts and never discussed raising taxes on the wealthy.

  • Despite Mayor De Blasio pledging to hold employers accountable when he announced a crackdown on e-bikes in 2017, only 71 NYPD summonses were issued to employers last year, compared to 1,052 issued to riders.

  • State Senator Julia Salazar (SD 18, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Cypress Hills) and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein (AD 74, Lower East Side, East Village) have proposed expanding the mortgage recording tax to capture a percentage of the billions of untaxed dollars real estate actors use to bankroll property acquisitions. They intend to direct this revenue towards public housing.

  • Due to a corporate tax break, Madison Square Gardens has not paid property taxes in 37 years, totaling $555 million in lost revenue for the city. Although property taxes go to the city government, the state controls the laws that govern these taxes, and Governor Cuomo does not seem interested in changing the tax break, perhaps in part due to donations made to his campaign by the MSG owners.

  • The City Council passed a bill mandating that all stores accept cash as a form of payment.


  • A week after suddenly dropping out of the 2021 Brooklyn Borough President race, Council Member Rafael Espinal (District 37, Bushwick) abruptly resigned his seat with under two years left in his term to take a position at the Freelancer’s Union. A special election will be held within 80 days.

  • Republican State Senator James Seward (District 51, Central New York) announced his retirement, the tenth GOP State Senate retirement ahead of the 2020 election.

  • Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. dropped out of the 2021 race for mayor.

  • Stefani Zinerman, a staffer for the retiring State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, plans to run for Assembly Member Tremaine Wright’s soon-to-be-vacant District 56 seat with the support of Bed Stuy’s most prominent Democratic club.

  • Council Member Chaim Deutsch (District 48, Sheepshead Bay), a conservative and homophobic Democrat, has announced his intention to challenge Rep. Yvette Clarke for her 9th Congressional District seat in 2020. The announcement could throw the race into disarray; Clarke already faces serious challenges from Adem Bunkedekko and Isiah James, and Deutsch could draw heavily from Southern Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish vote, which comprises a significant portion of the 9th district.

  • Even though the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee under the leadership of State Senator Michael Gianaris (District 12, Western Queens) has sworn off real estate donations, recent campaign finance filings revealed that several Senate Democrats have continued to accept substantial contributions from developers and landlords.

  • NYC-DSA’s endorsed slate for state legislature released a joint criminal justice platform that features a full elimination of cash bail, enfranchisement of incarcerated New Yorkers, and more.

Bloomberg News covered the wave of left and right challengers in 2020 Democratic state legislative primaries, highlighting the unique weakness of incumbent legislators in the coming elections.

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