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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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
Lawmakers Aren’t Sure Their Own Plan to Build More Housing Will Work

The legislature signed on to Hochul’s goal of 800,000 new homes. But they aren’t confident their plan can get there.

March 20, 2023
The New Belmont Park Could Become the Country’s Deadliest Track for Horses

Dozens of horses die at the Long Island track each year. Governor Hochul — and now the state legislature — want to give it a state-funded renovation.

March 14, 2023
Can Half a Billion Dollars Save New York Horse Racing? We Spoke With the Man Who Says Yes.

A conversation with consultant Shuprotim Bhaumik, whose firm wrote a study arguing that New York state can revitalize the failing horse racing industry by funding a $455 million track renovation.

March 1, 2023
Hochul Projects Horse Racing Renaissance, Declines to Share Evidence

Hochul says it “goes without saying” that a taxpayer-funded track renovation will bring jobs and boost attendance. Her proof: an industry-commissioned study that she refuses to release.

February 22, 2023
Hector LaSalle’s Chief Judge Shot Ends With Historic Rejection by State Senate

The surprise vote was a stinging rebuke to Governor Kathy Hochul, who pushed aggressively for LaSalle’s confirmation.

February 15, 2023
Hochul Ditched Promise of Health Insurance for Undocumented People. She Could Cost New York $500 Million.

The move will leave tens of thousands of undocumented New Yorkers uninsured.

February 9, 2023
Kathy Hochul Bets Half a Billion on Horse Racing. Will the Industry Pay Her Back?

New York’s biggest racetracks have been declining for decades. They’ll likely need more state subsidies to cover their debts.

February 7, 2023
How Hochul Plans to Build Hundreds of Thousands of Homes Near Train Stations

The governor’s proposal for “transit-oriented development” has so far gotten a mixed reception from suburban legislators, who killed a similar plan last year.

February 2, 2023
Hector LaSalle Faces Senate Judiciary Hearing: Live Updates

Governor Kathy Hochul’s embattled pick faces steep odds in the legislature — if Senate leaders choose to bring his nomination to a floor vote. Follow along for updates on his Judiciary Committee hearing.

January 18, 2023
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
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