Governor Kathy Hochul, Representative Jerrold Nadler, and others march in the June 4, 2023 Israel Day Parade in New York City. Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Backing primary opponents to progressive Democrats, the new Solidarity PAC resembles a state-level analog to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
By Julia Rock and Chris Gelardi

The Republican treasurer and Democratic executive director of a pro-Israel political advocacy group have launched a state-level political action committee to spend directly in New York’s elections, according to Board of Elections records obtained by New York Focus.

The committee, called Solidarity PAC, is boosting Democratic primary opponents to candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party. It resembles a New York state-level version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backs pro-Israel candidates in federal elections.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie discusses last year's state budget in Albany on May 2, 2023. Hans Pennink / ZUMA Press Wire
As the relationship was coming to light, Heastie returned $5,000 in campaign cash to a labor group from which he'd recused himself.
By Chris Bragg

The lobbyist dating New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has been cleared to return to work before the Assembly, New York Focus has learned.

A spokesperson for the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, or LECET, told New York Focus that after being barred on the advice of its former ethics lawyer, legislative and communications director Rebecca Lamorte can resume lobbying the Assembly — including Heastie’s staff — but not the speaker himself. After Lamorte was cleared to return, the former ethics attorney quit.

When Lamorte’s employer confirmed the romantic relationship to New York Focus two weeks ago, Heastie was upset. The organization has taken steps to mend fences.

On March 13, the day before the news broke, Heastie called a top official within LECET’s labor arm to return a $5,000 campaign donation from a fundraiser in late February. The labor arm, the Mason Tenders’ District Council, had been barred from meeting with Heastie since November, according to a private letter drafted by the Assembly majority’s counsel.

New York lawmakers are in the process of negotiating a budget that determines how the state will spend over $230 billion in public money. It’s a massive sum, bigger than most countries’ budgets, and outpacing every other state except California.

Senior Reporter Sam Mellins broke down the process with Radio Catskill. 


Industrial development agencies can subsidize a range of projects, including manufacturing and warehousing, renewable energy, educational and cultural institutions, horse and car racing facilities, and retirement homes.

Economic Development Reporter Arabella Saunders explains how IDAs work with Radio Catskill.

Historical photo of the Ray Brook State Sanatorium, now Adirondack Correctional Facility. Photo: United States Library of Congress | Illustration: Maia Hibbett
Stark disparities in access to life-saving medication for opioid addiction persist between facilities — and racial groups.
By Spencer Norris

Speaking in Albany last month, New York’s commissioner for addiction said that all of the state’s jails and prisons were providing the “gold standard” for treating opioid addiction.

“I am very proud to report that all 44 prisons and all 58 jails are implementing all forms of medication treatment for substance use disorders,” said Chinazo Cunningham, commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, or OASAS, during a joint legislative hearing on February 13.

Many prisons appear to be doing well: Across facilities, 91 percent of applications reviewed were granted, suggesting that the people who requested the medication are, for the most part, receiving it. But internal data from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which runs the state prison system, show that stark disparities in access persist. Some facilities have made the life-saving treatment less widely available than Cunningham indicated.


The technology has serious flaws. Read our story about this from 2022.
Weapon detectors throughout the subway system would likely require thousands of police officers or security personnel to staff them. NYPD Transit Bureau
"Expect delays, expect secondary screening, expect frustration, and expect to miss your train from time to time."
By Chris Gelardi

In April 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams had an idea for improving transit security: Install artificial intelligence-driven “weapons detectors” in front of subway turnstiles.

“There’s a new method that can detect weapons that are not the traditional metal detectors that you see at airports,” Adams, just weeks into his tenure, said. “You don’t even realize it’s there.”

But the detectors Adams was talking about can be inaccurate, misidentifying an array of everyday objects, from cell phones to umbrellas, as threats. When the devices ping an item, the person carrying it must be routed to more conventional secondary screening, which can cause significant delays. They’re mostly used at event venues, and experts foresaw chaos if officials implemented the tech on public transit.

“Expect delays, expect secondary screening, expect frustration, and expect to miss your train from time to time,” said the CEO of one company that makes the detectors.

On Wednesday, two years after floating his idea, Adams announced that he was finally deploying the weapons detectors in the subway system. Read New York Focus’s prescient investigation into the embattled company he’s signed with.


Copyright © New York Focus 2023, All rights reserved.
Staying Focused is compiled and written by Alex Arriaga
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