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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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
With Chief Judge Out, Will Conservatives Lose Control Of Top New York Court?

Governor Hochul’s pick to replace the resigning Court of Appeals Chief Judge could break up the conservative bloc that controls the court—or entrench it.

July 12, 2022
A New Conservative Majority on New York’s Top Court is Upending State Law

A new four-judge bloc has consistently voted together in its most recent term, impacting criminal defendants, workers and people suing police.

July 7, 2022
Forged Signatures Found on Petitions for Candidates Backed by Queens Machine

New York Focus reached four voters listed as signatories who said they never signed. A review of other signatures suggests they might not be the only ones.

June 28, 2022
Corporate PACs Fail to Disclose Cash Behind Attacks in Primary Races

With less than a week left before the primary, two groups boosting moderate Democratic candidates for the state legislature have not submitted disclosures required by campaign finance law.

June 22, 2022
Robert De Niro’s Astoria Film Studio Backs Out of Promise to Hire Union Construction Workers

“We’re basically being blocked out in the process of even trying to bid on the work,” said one union leader.

June 22, 2022
How Lobbyists Killed a Bill to Protect New York Elections, With An Assist from the NAACP

New York elections could soon be more vulnerable to hacks, after lobbyists, the NAACP, and the Assembly elections committee chair teamed up to kill an election security bill.

June 16, 2022
City Employee Health Plan Could Switch to Lower-Cost Company Under New Proposal

Hundreds of thousands of city workers and their dependents could have their healthcare shifted to a cheaper plan by 2024, documents show.

June 15, 2022
Nursing Home Industry Cozies Up to Hochul, Disclosures Reveal

After New York Focus revealed that Hochul had failed to disclose the individuals behind corporate donations to her campaign, she provided that information for recent donors — revealing major support from a nursing home industry powerhouse.

June 7, 2022
Hochul Stores Billions in Slush Funds, Continuing Cuomo-Era Budgeting Practices

The comptroller sounded the alarm that the budget includes $18 billion in “unnecessarily opaque” spending, most of it under Hochul’s control.

June 2, 2022
This Bill Could Save 100 Lives a Year for $1 Million. Will The Assembly Pass It?

A bill to increase kidney donation rates is stuck in the “traffic jam” of the Assembly.

May 26, 2022
Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Following New York Focus Reporting

After New York Focus reported that the elections board wasn’t enforcing a landmark transparency law, it sent delinquent donors a letter requesting that they comply. Thousands did within weeks.

May 11, 2022
Bill to Stop Foreclosures Heads to Hochul, Under Heavy Pushback from Banks

The state legislature has passed a measure intended to counter a court ruling that made it easier for lenders to win cases against homeowners.

May 3, 2022
Environmental Hazard or Economic Boon? Legislators Spar on Bitcoin Mining in New York

Legislators opposed to a bill enacting a temporary moratorium on proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining are warning that it could harm New Yorkers often excluded from traditional financial markets, sources say.

April 27, 2022
An Upper East Side Assembly Candidate Accepted Over $10,000 in Illegal Corporate Cash

After New York Focus reported on illegal contributions to candidate Russell Squire, his campaign announced it would return the money.

April 25, 2022
Zoning Laws Are Blocking the Conversion of Hotels into Affordable Housing

The state’s grand plan to convert unused hotels into affordable housing hasn’t gotten off the ground. Lawmakers just boosted funding — but developers and housing advocates say that won’t help without lifting onerous zoning restrictions.

April 19, 2022
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