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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Up and Down The Ballot, Progressives Score Wins in Western New York

In Buffalo, socialist India Walton scored a landmark win against a four-term incumbent mayor. In nearby Rochester, shakeups on the city council and county legislature could chart a new course for local politics.

July 19, 2021
In 2021 Legislative Session, a New Approach to Drug Policy

This year, state legislators passed major bills in response to the overdose crisis. Will Cuomo sign them?

July 13, 2021
Democratic Party Boss Obstructed India Walton’s Underdog Candidacy, Walton Says

Jeremy Zellner uses his dual role as Erie County’s chief election administrator and Democratic Party chair to create obstacles for outsider candidates, critics charge.

June 28, 2021
How Progressives Could Lose New York’s Mayor’s Race—But Win the City

“The whole city is up for grabs”: from office of the comptroller to the city council, progressives could pull off a wave of critical victories.

June 21, 2021
How Manhattan DA Candidates Plan to Rein in Police Misconduct

“The police can only go as far as the DA lets them,” one defense attorney said.

June 17, 2021
How a Democratic Supermajority Confirmed a Tough-On-Crime Prosecutor to New York’s Top Court

A progressive campaign to block the confirmation of Governor Cuomo’s nominee to the New York Court of Appeals failed by just a few votes

June 15, 2021
Manhattan DA Candidate Tali Farhadian Weinstein Skipped Years of Voting in Local Elections, Records Show

The former federal prosecutor joined the Democratic Party in 2017, after registering with no party and casting ballots only in presidential-year contests.

June 14, 2021
Progressives Mobilize to Block Cuomo’s Tough-on-Crime Pick For Highest NY Court

Madeline Singas, a close Cuomo ally, has been a prominent opponent of criminal justice reforms and has taken a punitive approach as Nassau County DA, defenders say.

June 4, 2021
A Manhattan DA Candidate Touts Her Leadership of a Conviction Review Unit. Why Did It Exonerate So Few People?

Under Tali Farhadian Weinstein’s leadership, Brooklyn’s unit exonerated just three people — a far lower rate than in previous years.

May 17, 2021
Thousands of New Yorkers are in Prison for Life. These D.A. Candidates Want to Change That

Manhattan D.A. candidates vow to reduce lengthy sentences—but sharp differences between their approaches remain

April 28, 2021
Health Care Costs for Retired City Workers Could Dramatically Increase Under City Plan

A quarter million retired city workers could be left with bigger health insurance bills and fewer doctor choices under a city plan to change their health insurance.

April 21, 2021
What Made It Into the Budget — And What Was Left Out

The major provisions of New York’s 2021 budget.

April 7, 2021
Legislature Seeks to End “Arbitrary Limit” on Medicaid Spending

A 2011 rule prevents New York from adequately funding Medicaid, advocates say. This year’s budget could see it repealed.

March 29, 2021
In an Upstate Jail, Incarcerated People Struggle to Access Promised Addiction Treatment

In 2019, Broome County promised an addiction treatment program in its jail. Two years later, the program is a “farce,” one advocate said.

March 26, 2021
Queens Public Defenders Win Unionization Vote

After months of conflict involving alleged intimidation and potentially illegal firings, workers at Queens Defenders voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

March 11, 2021
“It Damages Democracy:” Watchdogs, Reporters, Slam “Non-Functional” Board of Elections Campaign Finance Website

Flaws in an updated website make it extremely difficult to track who is funding campaigns, journalists and watchdogs say, but the BOE insists that “the site is fully functioning.”

March 9, 2021
Will New York allow incarcerated people to access treatment for drug addiction?

“People in prison deserve healthcare, and this is healthcare.” Legislators push to offer treatment for drug addiction in jails and prisons

March 5, 2021
In Manhattan D.A. Race, Momentum Builds to Decriminalize Sex Work

In a striking sign of activists’ success, most candidates running in the June election for DA say they would not prosecute cases involving consensual sex work.

March 4, 2021
Queens Defenders Fires Two Pro-Union Employees

Amid an ongoing union election at the Queens indigent defense law firm, two outspoken union supporters were fired without warning.

February 11, 2021
Will Manhattan’s Next D.A. Break Ranks With Tough-on-Crime Colleagues?

Three candidates in the June election say they would not join the association of state DAs, which has fought measures such as bail reform.

February 2, 2021
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