New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced his latest rollback of Covid-19 restrictions: let the children under 5 go maskless.
It’s one of the city’s last remaining pandemic rules still in place — until Monday — and has been a point of contention between Adams and a vocal group of parents opposed to the mandate in schools and day care centers. The toddlers in question are still not eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, but Adams said he’s moving ahead with scrapping the rules as the city’s latest virus wave has begun to dissipate.
“Cases are steadily falling,” Adams said yesterday. “Throughout the current wave, schools have remained the safest places for our children and beginning Monday, June 13, we will make masks optional for 2-4-year-old children in all early childhood settings.” The city is still recommending masks indoors for kids — and everyone else.
The move follows a previous false start, where the mayor announced a target date to lift the rules but opted to keep them in place when Covid cases were spiking — a rare exception to his general philosophy that the city should get back to normal and not “wallow in Covid.” As virus levels rose this spring, he declined to reimpose a broader indoor mask mandate or vaccine requirements for indoor dining and entertainment, despite guidelines under the city’s color-coded alert system that said he should do so during a high alert level.
The city remains in the high alert category, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, according to Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, who said documented cases are down 26 percent since May 23. Officials are confident “that we have passed the peak and we are heading into a safer environment,” he said. As for shots in the arms for the youngest kids, those could kick off later this month.
WHERE’S KATHY? Holding a meeting with her cabinet in Albany.
WHERE’S ERIC? Appearing on NPR’s Morning Edition, meeting with the speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, speaking at an interfaith clergy event, participating in a Puerto Rican flag raising, meeting with youth ambassadors, and attending two retirement ceremonies.
“Planning to apply for an absentee ballot? You’d better ‘think twice,‘” by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin: “Since the start of the pandemic through the end of last year, nearly 330,000 New York City voters who applied for absentee ballots chose to vote in person instead. That’s out of more than 2 million absentee ballot applications the New York City Board of Elections received in the same period, according to data Gothamist obtained from the agency. The option to change one’s mind and vote in person — casting a ballot on a machine — during early voting or on Election Day was permitted under state law. That was, until this year, when the law changed. Now any voter who applies for an absentee ballot but then decides to vote in person will be handed an affidavit ballot; they will not be permitted to vote on a machine. The policy change sets up a potentially confusing situation for thousands of voters accustomed to applying for an absentee ballot — which became critical during the COVID-19 era — as an insurance policy in case they could not make it safely to the polls.”
“Passed by Senate, NYC Board of Elections Reform Shelved by Assembly,” by Gotham Gazette’s Ethan Geringer-Sameth: “A package of reforms to the way elections are run in New York State all but died last week when the Assembly adjourned without bringing the legislation to a floor vote after they passed the Senate. That includes a sweeping bill to restructure the membership and executive leadership of the New York City Board of Elections, which has been plagued by political patronage, nepotism, and mismanagement year after year. While legislators passed a number of voting and election reforms, they did not make changes to the board of elections structure, institute measures to professionalize the New York City Board of Elections, or improve the election day experience.”
Bidding kicks off for long-awaited Penn Station redevelopment, by POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio Dunn: Officials in New York, New Jersey and the nation’s largest passenger rail service are finally all on board for Penn Station’s long-delayed redevelopment, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday, as she formally kicked off the bidding process for the busy transit hub’s anticipated multi-billion-dollar face-lift. Hochul was joined by Mayor Eric Adams, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and leadership from Amtrak to announce that the state is officially accepting bids from architectural and engineering firms to redesign the midtown Manhattan nerve center linking commuters to the Garden State and Long Island.
“Gov. Hochul blames feds for NYC congestion pricing plan likely getting delayed — again,” by New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt: “Gov. Hochul admitted Thursday that congestion pricing likely won’t be rolled out in the city as planned by the end of next year — and blamed the federal government for gumming up the works. ‘No, it’s probably not going to happen right now because we cannot get the necessary approvals from the federal government,’ Hochul told reporters when asked whether the toll program will be implemented by December 2023. Hochul’s finger-pointing at the feds comes after questions began to swirl when she said during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night that ‘now is not the right time’ for moving ahead with congestion pricing.”
“If Supreme Court Allows More Guns on NYC Streets, Will Anywhere Be Safe?” by The City’s Greg B. Smith: “New York City is bracing for the possibility that the number of individuals walking the streets with legally permitted handguns will greatly expand should the U.S. Supreme Court rule that the state’s restrictive carry permit laws are unconstitutional. The question is where will the holders with carry permits be allowed to carry their guns, and will the city be able to set up so-called ‘sensitive places’ where guns could still be strictly prohibited? Will legally permitted guns be allowed on the subway? In Broadway theaters? At Knicks or Nets games? In hospital waiting rooms or libraries or on college campuses like New York University or Columbia? What about Central Park?”
“GOP Party boss Nick Langworthy launches bid for NY congressional seat,” by New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan: “New York’s GOP party boss Nick Langworthy is officially running for the newly redistricted 23nd congressional district – the same seat Gov. Kathy Hochul once held. ‘First and foremost, when you’re chairman you find yourself trying to fix a situation. I’ve had too many congressmen fall apart on me: Chris Lee, Kathy Hochul for a hot second, Chris Collins – he did OK for a few years and then he was indicted for insider trading charges,’ Langworthy told The Post exclusively about his decision to run. ‘Then after a year and a half of misery after that we got Chris Jacobs. We thought we were in the driver’s seat then,’ he said. ‘I’m someone that’s vetted. I know the process. I’ve been someone who supports President Trump,’ Langworthy, 41, told The Post Thursday.”
“NY GOP gubernatorial candidate alleges Zeldin campaign violated campaign finance laws,” by WSKG’s Vaughn Golden: “Harry Wilson is suing fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-01), alleging the party-backed challenger violated campaign finance laws. Wilson’s lawsuit filed in Albany County Supreme Court Wednesday evening asks the court to grant an injunction prohibiting Zeldin’s campaign from making any more expenditures of some campaign funds ahead of the June 28 primary election. The lawsuit alleges Zeldin’s campaign improperly exceeded limits on how much donors can contribute to a single candidate ahead of a primary election by transferring funds from a separate joint account he holds with lieutenant governor candidate Alison Esposito. The joint Zeldin-Esposito 2022 account has transferred just over $720,000 to Zeldin’s individual campaign account, according to Board of Elections campaign finance filings submitted as of May 27.”
“‘I should have used Churchill’: Paladino again on defense after report unearths Hitler remarks,” by Buffalo News’ Robert J. McCarthy: “For the second time in a week, Republican congressional hopeful Carl P. Paladino is explaining controversial remarks unearthed by a media watchdog group, this time noting Adolf Hitler’s ability as an ‘inspirational’ leader. Media Matters, a left-leaning nonprofit group frequently critical of conservative outlets like Fox News, reported on its website Thursday that Paladino told a WBEN Radio program last year that he had listened to a recent broadcast about ‘Adolf Hitler and how he aroused the crowds.’”
#UpstateAmerica: Believe it or not, the Rochester region already has two cat cafes and a third — The Pawsitive Cafe — is opening this month in the city itself.
GOP backs Steuben County chair as Reed seat placeholder, by POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney: Steuben County GOP Chair Joe Sempolinski has received the backing of Republican and Conservative leaders to finish off former Rep. Tom Reed’s term in a Southern Tier district. Sempolinski will have the two parties’ lines in the Aug. 23 special election to serve in Congress for the remainder of the year. He is expected to run against Tioga County Democratic Chair Max Della Pia in the deep-red district. “I was born in this district. I was raised in this district. I am raising my children in this district. I have spent my career fighting for the people of this district,” Sempolinski said in a statement.
“Manhattan judge keeps costly contempt-fine threat dangling over Donald Trump’s head in NY probe,” by Insider’s Laura Italiano: “A Manhattan judge on Wednesday kept a costly contempt-of-court order dangling over the head of former President Donald Trump, saying it was the best way to ensure he fully complies with New York’s ongoing inquiry into his hotel and golf resort business. Wednesday’s decision leaves open the possibility that a fine already totalling $110,000 could climb still higher. And it left a Trump lawyer complaining that the former president is being unfairly targeted ‘for who my client is.’”
— A New York Supreme Court judge says the city’s Department of Education needs to wrap up its yeshiva investigation.
— The state DEC had authority under the state’s new climate protection law to deny Danskammer Energy a gas plant permit, according to an Orange County judge.
— ‘NY wants to create the most equitable cannabis industry in the US. Why are the state’s own equity positions vacant?’
— Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fundendorsed Melanie D’Arrigo in her bid for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, the only candidate for federal office out of New York the gun violence prevention group has backed so far.
— A former NYPD officerwas sentenced to 16 months to four years in prison for firing a gun into the ocean in Nassau County.
— A bill in the Legislature would ban police from using fake social media accounts.
— Brooklyn Borough President AntonioReynosoproposed a permanent public plaza on the Vanderbilt Avenue open street.
— Buffalo’s Great Northern grain elevatoris structurally deficient and a threat to public safety, according to court testimony from two civil engineers.
— A Long Island seaweed farmer wants to turn kelp into the next kale.
— More than a dozen New York City schools were among the targets of a string of nearly identical hoax threats on the site Omegle.
— A Brooklyn street has been renamed in memory of Kade Lewin, a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot in March.
— Broadway cleaners are pushing for wage increases amid heightened pandemic-era theater safety protocols.
— Some New York pet stores say they could go out of business if Hochul signs into law a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Ellie Kaufman … NBC’s Shannon Pettypiece and Kate Snow … Meta’s Meredith Carden … Eliot Spitzer … Edelman’s Matthew Streit … J.D. Grom of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s office (4-0) … Jeff Greenfield … WSJ’s Corinne Ramey … James Rockas of the American Center for Law and Justice … Marshall Johnson
MAKING MOVES — Dana Brisbane has joined Stripe to work on listening strategy on its org effectiveness team. She most recently was people scientist for the people analytics team at Twitter.
FOR YOUR RADAR — Per Daniel Lippman: “Justice Neil Gorsuch is writing a new book about judicial and regulatory policy. The book deal with HarperCollins was signed last summer but publication is not imminent and may not happen until 2024, according to a person familiar with the matter. The first portion of the advance that was paid to Gorsuch was $250,000.”
“Want a Rent-Regulated Apartment? Pay This Broker $10,000,” by Hell Gate’s Molly Osberg: “This spring, Rina Davidson found herself in the excruciating position of trying to change apartments. Like a lot of people who move in New York City, where rents have recently risen 33 percent, Davidson was propelled not so much by a desire to level up as a need to escape an untenable situation. Her ceiling had been leaking for six months; the landlord appeared not to care. One listing on StreetEasy looked appealing enough—a walk-up apartment in a townhouse on East 89th with a ‘faux fireplace that sets the tone for the space,’ according to a blurb. The two bedroom was listed for $3,150/month. Davidson, a medical student, tossed off an inquiry to Sarah Pemberton, the broker who’d intermittently listed the space since late 2020. Davidson received an odd response: The ‘unique listing,’ wrote the broker, was rent stabilized and the ‘actual rent’ came out to $2,250: ‘Therefore the fee is 10k. If you do the math it’s a big savings first year and a huge savings every year after that.’”