On Thursday, a federal judge will hear arguments for taking control of Rikers Island away from Mayor Eric Adams and granting it to an independent authority.
The prospect of receivership has loomed large since November. So what makes it more likely now?
The independent monitor tasked with Rikers oversight declared Monday that “little progress has been evident” in the administration’s addressing of deadly security and operational failures.U.S. Attorney Damien Williams said last month he would pursue contempt proceedings and seek other relief, including the appointment of a receiver.The judge who would make the decision wrote a day later that Adams has failed to fix “the dangerous conditions that perpetually plague the jails.”
Adams has been vociferous in his opposition to a federal takeover.
Coming to his defense Tuesday were City Council Republicans and Democrats who run on the GOP line.
“Common Sense Caucus” members said they visited with younger detainees on Rikers. They reported better programming, freshly painted walls, air conditioning and tempered glass where there was once Plexiglas (nixed because it can be fashioned into weapons).
“It’s a great atmosphere in there,” Council Member Robert Holden said, contrasting it with a November 2021 visit he called a nightmare. “So for any federal monitor to say that the conditions haven’t improved, they’re not telling the truth.”
Speaking to Playbook Tuesday night at an unrelated event, Correction Commissioner Louis Molina, like City Hall, cited double-digit reductions in slashings and stabbings, assaults on staff, injuries to detainees and other categories.
“I think that we’ve shown that the pace of reform — and sustainability of what we’ve been able to do for the city’s jail system — has happened at a much faster pace than any receiver can do it,” Molina said, adding that he can’t control what the judge decides.
The city jails population was at 6,202 people as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Correction.
Seven people have died in custody or shortly after their release so far this year, at least in part due to “poor conditions and substandard security practices,” the independent monitor, Steve J. Martin, wrote Monday.
The monitoring team, attorneys representing detainees, attorneys for the city and Molina are expected to appear Thursday at 2 p.m. before Judge Laura Taylor Swain in the lower Manhattan courtroom.
WHERE’S KATHY? Delivering announcement nation-leading cybersecurity plan in Brooklyn.
WHERE’S ERIC? Making an address on the asylum-seeker crisis from City Hall, then delivering remarks at a celebration for Run-D.M.C.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We want our pilots and our service members to come forward when they see things that they cannot identify.” — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on recent testimony about alleged secret government programs involving UFOs
ISLAND TURNOUT: Democrats are increasingly optimistic they’ll have better luck on Long Island after two straight years of losing in the bellwether suburbs.
So far, two former state senators have jumped into congressional campaigns, with Democrats Anna Kaplan and Jim Gaughran launching bids. Incumbent state Sen. Kevin Thomas is also running for a Long Island House seat held by troubled Rep. George Santos.
Democrat Nancy Goroff, who ran in the 1st Congressional District in 2020, is also expected to launch a second bid later this year after losing then to Republican Lee Zeldin, Playbook has learned.
The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Nicholas LaLota.
“We feel good about our chances,” said Keith Davies, a Democratic strategist with the Suffolk County Democrats. “We think ’21 and ’22 were a dip. We’ve seen this historically.”
Larry Levy, a suburban politics expert at Hofstra University, believes Democrats have reason to be hopeful.
Why? He pointed to freshman Republicans having to run as incumbents for the first time, as well as the possibility of former President Donald Trump once again being at the top of the GOP ticket.
“Overlaying all of this is the turnout model. You have a much higher percentage of Democratic voters coming out in presidential election years than any other time,” Levy said.
“That means all the Black and Latino voters who stay home most other years … they’re going to come out a lot stronger and make up a significant portion of the Democratic base.” — Nick Reisman
— The Department of Homeland Security sent an “assessment team” to evaluate New York City’s migrant influx. (Spectrum News)
— Rep. Jamaal Bowman ruled out a 2025 run for mayor after weeks of speculation. (Daily News)
— Federal officials are considering shutting down overdose prevention centers in Manhattan. (The New York Times)
OFF THE RAILS: Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is calling on federal transportation officials to perform “a prompt and comprehensive” assessment of all rail lines under their jurisdiction after a derailment in his district.
A 17-car train derailed in the upstate city of Amsterdam — a train that included empty petroleum gas tanks.
“Fortunately, no leaks were observed,” Santabarbara wrote in a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Nonetheless, the potential ramifications were potentially catastrophic, inflicting severe disruptions upon both commercial and passenger rail services.”
Rail safety has become a more urgent issue for local and state lawmakers following the derailment this year of a train in Ohio, setting off environmental and health concerns. — Nick Reisman
More from Albany:
— Albany officials criticized DocGo’s handling of migrants who have been moved upstate. (WAMC)
— Schools are expecting an influx of migrant children this year as they arrive from New York City in large numbers. (LoHud)
— The migrant crisis drew new criticism near Buffalo when an asylum seeker was accused of rape. (Buffalo News)
AND THE P STANDS FOR…? Former Rep. Mondaire Jones told New York magazine on Tuesday “pragmatist” may be the better term for him than “progressive.”
He’s retooling his messaging for the 17th Congressional District’s Democratic primary against Liz Whitmer Gereghty — and ideally, the general against GOP Rep. Mike Lawler.
So let yourself smile when you read that Jones’ campaign exclusively told Playbook he’s been endorsed by the Progressive Caucus PAC, his latest establishment endorsement.
Yet another reminder that “progressive” in D.C. is different than in New York. Just ask Rep. Ritchie Torres. — Jeff Coltin
— Ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s head of NYPD security will surrender on charges in the Manhattan DA’s obstruction probe. (Daily News)
— Democrats in New York want a more aggressive approach against drug cartels. (Times Union)
— Semiconductor manufacturer AMD is moving into two upstate facilities in Monroe and Dutchess counties. (Spectrum News)
— The Manhattan Democratic Party rejected its independent screening panel’s judicial nominations. (Daily News)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: NYT’s Julian Barnes and Ken Vogel … Hoda Kotb … Chris Cuomo … New Deal Strategies’ Rebecca Kirszner Katz … Mercury’s Dan Bank … Kathleen Matthews … Carla Baranauckas … (was Tuesday): David Friedman
— A judge dismissed Airbnb’s challenge to a New York City law requiring hosts to register for an operating license. (Bloomberg)