Sam Mellins

Sam Mellins is senior reporter at New York Focus, which he has been a part of since launch day. His reporting has also appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Intercept, THE CITY, and The Nation.

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Senate Committee Rejects Hector LaSalle for Chief Judge
The judiciary committee voted Kathy Hochul’s nominee down 10 to nine. Senate Democrats say his candidacy is dead, but Hochul says the full Senate needs to vote.
January 18, 2023
As Hochul Makes New Promises in State of the State, Last Year’s Parole Pledge Is Still Waiting
This time last year, Hochul promised to fully staff the parole board. But vacancies have only grown — and went unmentioned in this year’s agenda.
January 10, 2023
‘Highly Unlikely’ Hector LaSalle Gets a Floor Vote, Say Senate Democrats
Governor Kathy Hochul maintains that her chief judge nominee will go through a Senate hearing and vote. The Senate Democrats’ spokesperson disagrees.
January 6, 2023
Will Hector LaSalle Be the Next Janet DiFiore?
LaSalle’s supporters argue opponents are cherry-picking his record. But on eight out of nine recent cases, he agreed with the Court of Appeals’ conservative bloc.
January 5, 2023
Hochul Picks Hector LaSalle for Chief Judge. Progressives Fear Return to Conservative Era.
LaSalle’s leadership could restore the conservative majority that dominated the court under Janet DiFiore.
December 22, 2022
As Hochul’s Deadline Nears, Law Professors Urge Against ‘Activist Conservative’ for Chief Judge
Dozens of law professors are raising the alarm over Judge Hector LaSalle’s rulings on ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ and union protections. Hispanic and Latino lawyers’ groups say his appointment would be a win for diversity.
December 19, 2022
New York City Has 25 Days to Settle Retirees’ Switch to Privatized Insurance, Arbitrator Rules
The ruling puts pressure on the city to finalize a Medicare Advantage plan for a quarter million retirees — and may lead to the elimination of Senior Care.
December 15, 2022
New York’s Chief Financial Regulator Promised Climate Action This Year. Where Is It?
Wall Street watchdog Adrienne Harris said her department would release climate change guidance for banks in 2022. She’s yet to publish a draft.
December 7, 2022
Chief Judge Shortlist Excluded Court’s Sitting Liberals, DiFiore Opponents
Three current Court of Appeals judges applied for the lead position. They are all people of color — and the only judges who regularly dissented from former chief Janet DiFiore’s conservative rulings.
December 1, 2022
Chief Judge Shortlist Offers Hochul a Stark Choice
Former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s unexpected resignation gave the governor a chance to reshape the Court of Appeals. Her pick will affect New Yorkers’ rights for years to come.
November 28, 2022
Republicans Won Big on Long Island. So Did Affordable Housing.
Even as Long Island veers right, the Hamptons just voted to tax the wealthy to fund mid-range housing.
November 17, 2022
The ‘Red Wave’ Hit Southern Brooklyn. Some Blame the County Democrats.
After the Brooklyn Democratic Party did almost nothing to mobilize voters, Republicans swept the borough’s southern points.
November 9, 2022
Landfill Fight Illustrates New York’s Heaping Trash Problem
New York planned to slash its trash. Instead, we’re producing more garbage than ever.
November 8, 2022
Has Anyone Told the Brooklyn Democratic Party There’s an Election Next Week?
Downstate turnout could decide the governor’s race. The Brooklyn Democratic Party is mounting almost no campaign effort.
November 2, 2022
Mayor Issues Ultimatum on Retiree Health Care, Seeking End to Standoff
The City Council must enable budget-cutting new health insurance options for retirees, warns Eric Adams’s chief labor negotiator — or City Hall will eliminate existing insurance plans.
October 31, 2022
City Council Moves Forward With Gowanus Rezoning After Slashing Affordable Housing
A proposal to build dozens of units on a block near the Gowanus industrial zone was cut in half after locals lobbied Councilmember Shahana Hanif.
October 27, 2022
Some Suburbs Are Actually Trying to Solve the Housing Shortage
New York suburbs have long lagged their peers in building new housing. A few towns are eyeing a different approach.
October 25, 2022
New York Courts Are Ghosting Disabled New Yorkers
When disabled litigants who can’t to come to court in person request virtual appearances, they often don’t hear back.
October 13, 2022
The Rent Is Too Damn High. Blame the Suburbs.
Long Island and Westchester build housing at some of the lowest rates of any suburban area in the country, fueling high rents and home prices across the region.
October 6, 2022
Judge Frees Man From Rikers in Exceptional Decision Citing Bail and Jail Conditions
The ruling, which isn’t binding on other judges but will surely be noted by them, was based on the 2019 bail reform law’s requirement that judges consider defendants’ ability to afford bail.
September 21, 2022
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