De Blasio assailed from all sides over protests — City sees first day with no confirmed coronavirus deaths — MTA pushes for bus lanes

Presented by Citizens for Progress

By the time Mayor Bill de Blasio took the stage at a memorial for George Floyd in Brooklyn Thursday, anger against him was already emanating from protesters on the street, elected officials across the political spectrum, New Yorkers on social media, and his own current and former aides.

Earlier in the day — after a night of tension where police wielded batons to forcibly disperse peaceful protesters who were out past a citywide curfew — de Blasio delivered a staunch defense of the NYPD’s tactics. The police department, he said, “uses as light a touch as possible” — confident enough to make that claim despite admitting he had not seen videos circulated widely online of police rushing crowds and striking people with batons. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also defended the police response, saying of videos of police bludgeoning protesters: “They don’t do that.”

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De Blasio’s attempt to deliver remarks at the memorial for Floyd was almost entirely drowned out by boos and heckling. He spoke for just 85 seconds. Some in the crowd turned their backs on him — echoing a crisis early in his mayoralty when police turned their backs at funerals for slain officers, an incident instrumental to changing de Blasio’s approach to the NYPD. Now, he’s losing the goodwill of many of the people who overwhelmingly elected him, as our Sally Goldenberg, Joe Anuta and Michelle Bocanegra report.

“I got two black sons and I’m afraid when they go out. I call them every day to make sure they’re safe,” Donna Clinkscales, 60, who voted for de Blasio, said after the Cadman Plaza gathering. “He hasn’t done anything for police reform. He keeps supporting the policemen, and they’ve shown, time and time again, that they don’t care.”

It’s not as if de Blasio has won the favor of law and order types, either. Republican City Council Member Eric Ulrich in Queens is pushing for a no confidence vote against the mayor, saying he has lost control of the city, and he continues to face unrelenting hostility from police unions. De Blasio has dismissed criticism from former advisers, saying outsiders cannot fully appreciate the magnitude of the crisis he is forced to manage. But with similar scenes of forceful arrests playing out Thursday night, as at least 250 people were arrested, the onslaught is sure to continue.

IT MIGHT BE FRIDAY, but we’ve lost track. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know ... By email: [email protected] and [email protected], or on Twitter: @erinmdurkin and @annagronewold

WHERE’S ANDREW? No available public schedule by press time.

WHERE’S BILL? Holding a media availability and appearing on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show.


WHAT CITY HALL'S READING

“FOR THE FIRST day in months, New York City witnessed zero confirmed deaths due to coronavirus, current records show. The first confirmed COVID-19 death in the Big Apple occurred on March 11 with the death toll reaching its horrible peak at 590 on April 7, according to records put out by the city. Those same records show that there were zero confirmed coronavirus deaths Wednesday, with three deaths listed as having a ‘probable’ connection to COVID-19. Those probable deaths could later be reclassified as confirmed as more information emerges. Despite that caveat, the news offers a glimmer of hope to New Yorkers who’ve been awash in tragedy for months.” New York Daily News’ Anna Sanders

— “Public health experts who spoke with the Daily News this week fear that the mass protests are all but certain to trigger a new wave of coronavirus infections — especially given the face mask flouting. “I will be shocked if we don’t see a rise in cases. We’re all holding our breaths right now,” said Dr. Anne Liu, an infectious disease physician at Stanford University Hospital.”

“NEW YORK MAYOR Bill de Blasio is targeting a July relaunch of outdoor dining. More than 10 weeks after the city went on lockdown, the mayor is preparing for the June 8 start of phase one of reopening and said he anticipates reaching the second phase in July. Restaurants are a key part of New York City’s economy, de Blasio said Thursday at a press briefing. The city’s Transportation and Planning Departments will help create curbside restaurants to allow eateries for the first time to convert adjacent parking spots into more seating. No permits will be needed to certify the street-side restaurants, de Blasio said. “We will provide a massive expansion of curbside seating and an expansion of open streets,” de Blasio said. Bloomberg’s Henry Goldman

— While retailers will be allowed to open for curbside pickup on Monday when the city enters phase one, some of the city’s biggest stores do not plan to open. Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman are among those staying closed for now. Tiffany & Co. has a tentative reopening date later next week. Macy’s, which was targeted by looters this week, has not revealed its plans.

“POST-PANDEMIC London will limit some streets to buses, cyclists and pedestrians. In San Francisco, the head of the local Municipal Transportation Authority has spoken of using emergency federal funding to quickly build more lanes reserved for buses and taxis. And in Boston, there is talk of adding bus-only lanes and increasing stop sizes to allow for more social distancing among riders. As New York gets set to start ‘reopening’ on Monday, expanding the ranks of ‘essential’ workers in the construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale industries, the MTA is pushing City Hall to speed its rollout of 60 additional miles of bus-only lanes in all five boroughs. That would boost bus lanes on city streets to more than 200 miles. But the de Blasio administration isn’t hitting the gas just yet. In a letter sent Thursday to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the interim president of New York City Transit wrote that a ‘robust bus system’ is crucial for those heading back to work — and more dedicated lanes are urgently needed.” THE CITY’s Jose Martinez

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO is telling district attorneys who want to impose bail on looters to charge them with more serious crimes. The civil unrest of the past week has given new life to Republican criticism that bail reforms passed by Democrats in 2019 have returned dangerous criminals to the streets. “Because of bail reform, you’re back out on the street the next day,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told the New York Post on Tuesday. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. subsequently called on Cuomo to use his emergency powers to change the bail law and let him hold more looters. Cuomo said at his daily briefing on Thursday that prosecutors should already be able to do so. “To the New York City district attorneys, you look at these videos [of looting] — it would be nonsensical if the police were arresting looters and they were then being returned to the street the next day to loot again,” the governor said. The changes to bail first made in 2019 eliminated cash bail in the vast majority of cases. One of the crimes for which it can still be imposed is a form of burglary in the second degree that involves robbing a nonresidential building while using “a dangerous instrument.” POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney

“A MANHATTAN JUDGE sided with police on Thursday by denying Legal Aid lawyers’ request for the immediate release of hundreds of prisoners held in custody for days after their arrest amid George Floyd protests. The emergency lawsuit filed Tuesday against the NYPD called for the release of 108 New Yorkers ‘detained illegally’ in violation of New York state’s 24-hour arrest-to-arraignment requirement. As of the Thursday afternoon hearing, the number of people arrested in Manhattan who have been waiting to see a judge in cramped cells for more than 24 hours had climbed to 202, according to an NYPD lawyer. After lengthy arguments from Legal Aid and city lawyers — who all appeared via video — Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke denied the request, saying the police processing of the cases is ‘a crisis within a crisis.’...Burke said in this case, an exception the 24-hour rule could be made because of the unusual circumstances.” New York Daily News’ Molly Crane-Newman

— NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea made an impassioned plea to stop the violence on cops — and apologized for any improper acts of aggression by officers. He said some officers would be suspended as a result of their conduct at the protests.

— Arrested protesters have been denied the chance to speak to an attorney or make a phone call, lawyers said.

— The NYPD may be subject to its first major budget cut in decades.

— Police took protesters’ and reporters’ bikes during a peaceful protest Wednesday night in Brooklyn.

— Food delivery workers are supposed to be exempt from the curfew, but fear for their safety. At least one appeared to be arrested Thursday night, and de Blasio took to Twitter to criticize the arrest. Meanwhile, several medical workers have taken to social media to relay troubles getting home.


WHAT ALBANY'S READING

“NEW YORK has borrowed more than $1.1 billion from the federal government in recent weeks to pay the surge of unemployment claims triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The state's unemployment trust fund has run dry, so it must turn to the federal government for loans to cover its share of jobless benefits, which last up to 26 weeks. The federal government is picking up the tab for Congress' temporary enhancements to the program, which include boosting weekly payments by $600 and broadening eligibility to gig workers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus. New Yorkers, however, are guaranteed to get their benefits regardless of whether the money comes from the state's trust fund or a federal loan. It's not unusual for states to borrow federal funds during economic downturns....The Empire State has paid out more than $10 billion, as of May 20, the state Department of Labor said. More than 3 million claims have been processed, as of late May. The state received federal authorization to borrow up to $4 billion. It will not have to pay interest in 2020, thanks to a coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in mid-March.” CNN’s Tami Luhby

— GOOD NEWS, kind of: The 83,000 first-time jobless claims filed in the week ending May 30 was the lowest total since number surged in the wake of the pandemic lockdown in mid-March, and represents a 53 percent decrease from a week earlier.

“NEW YORK’s local government agencies are continuing to hope for financial relief from Congress, but local officials are warning state lawmakers that any cut to state aid would only deepen the deficits communities are facing. Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors, said municipalities already have ‘significant budget holes’ because of the coronavirus pandemic and further cuts are not sustainable. ‘They also want to make sure that legislators know that if, on top of that, there are cuts in state aid to municipalities, there is going to be a dramatic impact on public safety services,’ he said...

"In the Southern Tier, Binghamton has taken proactive steps to curb expenses — including voluntary furloughs of employees, hiring freezes, dipping into the city’s fund balance and working with labor unions on concessions, Mayor Richard David said Thursday. But Binghamton — and many other municipalities — still face millions in lost revenue, which David said includes at least $3 million in lost sales tax revenues. Should New York not come through with state aid that loss could increase to nearly $6 million, the Binghamton mayor said. ‘For any municipality, you can’t tax your way out of it,’ David said. ‘You can’t cut your way out of it without having massive, devastating impacts on essential services.’” Times Union’s Amanda Fries

“BACK IN MARCH a ban on single use plastic bags like the ones you find in grocery stores was supposed to take effect. But the ban has been in a form of legal limbo due to a court challenge. That has frustrated environmental advocates. ‘It's as if the law doesn't exist,’ said Judith Enck, a longtime environmental activist and a former EPA official in the Obama administration. The ban's full implementation was first delayed in February by the court challenge. ‘And then COVID hit,’ Enck said. ‘So the 30-day delay became a 60-day delay and then a 90-day delay.’” Spectrum’s Nick Reisman

“HEALTH OFFICIALS in Erie County, using a parity argument about elective surgery offerings in other counties, this week successfully pushed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to restart elective procedures more widely available in the county. Now, a state lawmaker from Buffalo is trying the same fairness argument with a 145-year-old institution in Western New York: the Buffalo Zoo. Assemblyman Sean Ryan, a Democrat, is urging Cuomo, a Democrat, to treat the Buffalo Zoo as the state has treated the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, an Onondaga County-owned facility in Syracuse. That central New York Zoo reopened on May 23 — while all other zoos, from Western New York to Binghamton to New York City zoos in Central Park and the Bronx remained closed...

"'If the state thought it was dangerous they would have shut it down,' Ryan said Thursday of the Syracuse zoo. ‘So why not give the Buffalo Zoo and other zoos around the state the same opportunity that the state is giving Syracuse? Why the special, privileged treatment to Syracuse? All zoos are hurting.’” Buffalo News’ Tom Precious

— New York will allow drive-in and drive-thru graduations for students.

“A 75-YEAR-OLD protester was injured Thursday night after being pushed by police as officers cleared Niagara Square as the citywide curfew went into effect. Following the incident, which has drawn national attention and scrutiny, the Buffalo Police Department has suspended two officers without pay and has begun an Internal Affairs investigation, according to a police official and a department spokesman. The incident came several hours after a standoff between demonstrators and police in tactical gear ended peacefully in Niagara Square after dozens of protesters blocked the street in front of City Hall.” Buffalo News’ Aaron Besecker

#UpstateAmerica: Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Jake Fromm apologized after claiming in a text conversation that only "elite white people" should be able to purchase guns. Unsolicited advice from your Playbookers: Don’t put anything in writing you wouldn’t want to be seen by 1) the entire National Football League and 2) your mother.


CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

— The city is planning to build three Covid-19 recovery centers in some of the hardest hit areas by the virus.

— Transportation projects in New York are seeing speedier turnaround times, as the coronavirus pandemic has given authorities more flexibility to perform repairs.

... 2020 VISION ...

“LAST NOVEMBER, Allison Fine resigned from the board of the prominent pro-choice group naral to enter the Democratic primary in New York’s Seventeenth Congressional District. Fine, a self-described futurist and activist, has written three books about online organizing, including ‘Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age.’ She came into her campaign already thinking about the tensions between new and old ways of connecting with people, and of building support. Then covid-19 arrived. For those campaigning in the Seventeenth, which was hit by the virus as hard as anywhere else in the country, this meant that the very mechanics of the election were thrown into question. ... Fine called her friend Seth Godin, a digital-marketing pioneer, who lives a few towns over. ‘I said, “All right, this will not be traditional in any sense of the word. What do I do?”’ Fine told me. ‘And he laughed and said, “You know exactly what to do.”’” The New Yorker’s Eric Lach

ONE OF NEW YORK City's congressional primaries is among the progressive movement's best hopes for a repeat of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's upset win in 2018. Another could deal a blow to that movement. In one district that touches the north end of the Bronx, a three-decade incumbent, white congressman will have to fend off a challenge from a progressive, black candidate just weeks after getting caught on a hot mic saying he “wouldn’t care” about speaking on the city's civil unrest if he didn’t have a primary to win. About a mile away, a conservative Democratic minister with a long history of homophobic remarks appears to have a slight edge in a crowded race with far more liberal contenders, including a young, gay progressive once labeled a "rising star" in Democratic politics. As the city careens from a crippling pandemic to civil unrest, the events of the past three months have upended — and largely overshadowed — the House primary races that would otherwise have dominated New York’s political calendar and attracted national interest. POLITICO’s Erin Durkin

— Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a full-throated endorsement for Rep. Eliot Engel in his primary race against Jamaal Bowman.

FROM THE DELEGATION

“WHILE much of the federal government is focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest that's occurred since the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis, the push for federal limousine safety reforms prompted by the horrific 2018 crash in Schoharie continues on two different fronts. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko and U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado announced Wednesday that they were hopeful that some of their proposed limo safety measures would be included in an upcoming transportation bill being crafted in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to pressure the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to adopt new seatbelt requirements for limousines. The NHTSA, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has not acted since the NTSB made the recommendation last September following a preliminary investigation into the Oct. 6, 2018 crash, which killed 20 people.” Times Union’s Larry Rulison


TRUMP'S NEW YORK

“A FEDERAL JAIL inmate in New York City died Wednesday after correctional officers sprayed him with pepper spray, the Bureau of Prisons said. Officers sprayed Jamel Floyd, a 35-year-old black man, after he barricaded himself in his cell at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center and broke a cell door window with a metal object, the agency said. ‘He became increasingly disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others,’ the agency said in a statement. ‘Pepper spray was deployed and Floyd was removed from his cell.’ Floyd’s mother said her son suffered from asthma and diabetes and that jail officials were aware of his health conditions.” Associated Press’s Michael R. Sisak and Michael Balsamo

AROUND NEW YORK

— Nearly five years after the removal of contaminated sediments in the Hudson River, environmental advocates remain concerned that levels of toxic chemicals detected in fish are not dropping quickly enough.

— Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne illness with symptoms similar to Covid-19, is on the rise in the Adirondacks and upstate New York.

— A man in Queens is facing charges for attempted murder after allegedly threatening to kill peaceful protesters while wielding a long-bladed glove.

NYT COLUMN: “Police Misconduct Records Are Secret. Protests May Finally Change That.”

— Assemblymember David Gantt in Rochester was missing from an event he hosted, again.

SOCIAL DATA BY DANIEL LIPPMAN

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: NYT’s Sam Sifton is 54 ... David Espo is 71 (h/t Jon Haber) ... Suze Orman is 69 ... Andrea Peyser ... Kara Hauck, a VP at Qorvis ... Bill Moyers is 86 ... Mark Weprin is 59 ... DKC’s Maya Bronstein ... John D’Adamo, VP at BizBash … Weber Shandwick’s Cherith CleavesSaturday: Sophie Emery of Civic (h/t James Fulgenzi)

MAKING MOVES — Regina Calcaterra and Janine Pollack have started Calcaterra Pollack LLP, a litigation boutique firm. … Andy Smarick will join the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow, beginning on June 22. His research and writing will focus on education, civil society, and the principles of American conservatism. (h/t POLITICO Morning Education) … Per POLITICO Influence: “General Motors has added former Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) of Sweeney & Associates, who worked on President Donald Trump’s transition team, to its ranks of outside lobbyists. The company retains about a dozen other lobbying firms.”


REAL ESTATE

“BRONX BUSINESSES besieged by looters and vandals will get a helping hand from City Hall. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced a $500,000 aid package from the Mayor's Fund—for grants up to $10,000—for mom-and-pop shops hit by the unrest. The money will go for repairs and enhancing security systems, mayoral representative Julia Arredondo said. The city’s Small Business Services emergency response team is getting applications to business owners. They can expect a check within a week of submitting their application. The mayor’s office initially encouraged businesses to turn to their insurance companies for help before making the decision to offer city assistance.” Crain's Natalie Sachmechi

— But some business owners in the Bronx say the NYPD responded late to their 911 calls, while others said cops never showed up.