Authors
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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Rochester skyline with 100 dollar bills in the background
Unpaid Loan Loophole Lets Corporations Sail Past Campaign Contribution Caps

A Rochester-area political ad firm spent four times the limit in a recent Democratic primary. It’s not clear it will face any consequences.

August 31, 2023
Governor Hochul speaking in front of Brooklyn Democratic Party digital screen
Is Brooklyn’s Democratic Party Doing Anything to Reverse Its Losing Streak?

New York’s top elected officials showered the Brooklyn party with praise, but is it doing anything to support its candidates?

August 1, 2023
Ambulances in front of the NY State Capitol Building in Albany.
Patients Need Kidneys. A Law to Boost Donations Is Stuck in Limbo.

The health department has blown past deadlines to implement legislation encouraging lifesaving transplants — along with at least five other laws.

July 28, 2023
A colorized building with an American flag and a sepia background
Long Island Town of Huntington Says No to More Apartments

At a heated town meeting, a resident warned “pedophiles or criminals” would move into new housing.

July 27, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul sits in a chair at a breakfast meeting and looks up.
Hochul Shelved Undisclosed Plans for Housing Tax Break After Union Outcry

Kathy Hochul proposed an executive order to extend the controversial 421-a tax break. Labor unions shot it down.

July 7, 2023
Hochul Admin Sought Input on Tenant Protections — From Real Estate Lobby

In emails to the governor’s office, the Real Estate Board of New York proposed scaled back tenant protections for the state budget.

June 30, 2023
Dramatic photo of the Court of Appeals in Albany, New York
New York’s Top Court Just Wrapped Up a Chaotic Term. Here’s What We Learned.

Former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s resignation broke a conservative lock on the Court of Appeals.

June 22, 2023
Landlord handing off the keys in front of the New York State Capitol
Did Landlord Legislators Doom New York’s Housing Hopes?

Democratic lawmakers who rent their homes are far more likely to back tenant protections and new housing supply than those who own, a New York Focus analysis found.

June 13, 2023
A picture of Joe Biden with a thumbs up
Feds Would Likely Foot The Bill For Undocumented Health Coverage. Albany Has Days to Act.

A new letter from the federal government is energizing a push to expand health insurance for undocumented New Yorkers, but time is running out.

June 7, 2023
Kathy Hochul, Robert Ortt, Hector LaSalle, and Anthony Palumbo superimposed over the New York Court of Appeals building.
Amid Democratic Outcry Over LaSalle, Hochul Turned to Republicans

The governor’s team coordinated meetings between her failed chief judge nominee and Senate Republicans in the days before a key committee vote, emails show.

June 2, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul speaks before a screen with a Shirley Chisolm quote, reading: "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines... You make progress by implementing ideas."
Hochul Inches Toward Health Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants

While the governor awaits guidance from the federal government, thousands of undocumented New Yorkers can’t afford to go to the doctor.

May 19, 2023
An empty Belmont Park Winners Circle on May 4, 2023.
Half a Billion in the Bank — And Next to No One in the Stands

At Belmont Park’s opening day, local brass celebrated a windfall of state cash. Hardly any fans showed up.

May 8, 2023
New York’s Minimum Wage Hike Has a Big Catch

New York tied its minimum wage to inflation — but exceptions in Governor Hochul’s plan will likely cancel wage increases in many years.

May 5, 2023
Housing Nixed in Latest Budget Talks

“It’s done. It’s not happening,” an Assembly source told New York Focus. Lawmakers are poised to reject measures to boost housing supply and protect renters.

April 20, 2023
A New Liberal Era for New York’s Highest Court?

The confirmations of Rowan Wilson and Caitlin Halligan may reverse the Court of Appeals’ rightward trend.

April 19, 2023
The State Assembly Is Foreclosing Hochul’s Housing Supply Plan

Democratic Assembly leaders refused to entertain the governor’s primary tactic to achieve housing growth and affordability.

April 18, 2023
Hochul Nominates Liberal Rowan Wilson for Chief Judge

As the governor negotiates the state budget with a legislature that rejected her last chief judge pick, she has selected a sitting liberal to lead the Court of Appeals.

April 10, 2023
Judge Who Censored The New York Times on Behalf of Project Veritas Seeks New Term as a Democrat

As Westchester Democrats weigh whether to endorse the former Republican, the party chair calls his critics a “lynch mob.”

April 5, 2023
New Chief Judge Shortlist Features Previously Excluded Liberal Judges

Hochul has a month to nominate one of the seven candidates to be New York’s next chief judge, after the state Senate rejected her first pick last month.

March 24, 2023
Albany to Suburbs: We’ll Pay You to Build Housing. Suburbs to Albany: No Thanks

Mayors said they aren’t interested in state grants to expand housing. “You can’t dig a hole in the ground for that kind of money,” one told New York Focus.

March 23, 2023
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