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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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
Tiffany Cabán Approves Major Astoria Housing Development, Bucking Trend Among Progressives

The approval will create hundreds of units of both affordable and market rate housing and has sparked debate in progressive circles over how to approach private development.

September 14, 2022
Adams and Unions Strike Deal on Shift to Cost-Cutting Medicare Plan

The mayor and major city unions plan to press the City Council to clear a path for a privatized Medicare plan for retired city workers.

September 8, 2022
Did New York’s Chief Judge Break the Law to Pick Her Interim Successor?

Janet DiFiore may have gotten a say in picking her interim successor, boosting a judge who has never once voted against her.

August 29, 2022
Did New York’s Chief Judge Break the Law to Pick Her Interim Successor?

Janet DiFiore may have gotten a say in picking her interim successor, boosting a judge who has never once voted against her.

August 29, 2022
New York’s High Court Tried to Protect Parents’ Rights. Lower Courts are Ignoring It.

Many judges have ignored a 2016 mandate from New York’s top court that parents must be allowed to present evidence in their defense before they lose custody of their kids.

August 24, 2022
Medicare Standoff Threatens Cuts to Current City Workers’ Benefits

The cancellation of a proposed cost-saving health plan after retired city workers sued could drain a special fund City Hall and unions use to pay employee benefits.

August 10, 2022
Health Insurers Just Killed The Medicare Plan City Retirees Railed Against

With the plan tied up in court, insurers Elevance Health and Empire BlueCross BlueShield pulled out of a controversial deal to switch retired city workers to privately run health insurance.

July 19, 2022
New York Judges Are Watering Down Protections Against Evictions

For housing advocates, getting the legislature to expand the right to a court hearing before evictions was one thing. Getting judges to implement it is another.

July 19, 2022
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