New York City will ban flavored electronic cigarettes after the City Council voted overwhelmingly for the prohibition Tuesday amid growing concerns about the health effects of vaping.
The city becomes the largest jurisdiction in the country to outlaw flavors like bubblegum, cotton candy, lemonade and sour apple. Ban backers argue the fun flavors are intended to lure kids, who are using the products in large numbers, reversing years of work by health professionals and government programs aimed at tamping down tobacco use.
It’s Take 2 for a flavored vape ban in New York, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the products banished from store shelves statewide through a temporary, emergency action. But a court put the brakes on that effort.
The vaping industry and its allies aren’t taking the city’s ban lying down either: Protesters who insist vaping presents a healthier option than traditional cigarettes and helps ween smokers from their habit interrupted the Council’s meeting to pelt lawmakers with $1 bills, accusing them of being in the pocket of the tobacco industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. (And take note: The cash was real!)
Even Speaker Corey Johnson acknowledged puffing a mint-flavored Juul after quitting smoking. “Is it going to be difficult for me? Potentially,” he said, according to Gothamist. “What is way more important is us protecting kids.”
But here’s what wasn’t on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting: a companion bill to ban menthol cigarettes. The Council didn’t mind staring down critics in the vaping industry, but backed off on menthols after criticism from activists, including Rev. Al Sharpton, who argue banning menthols will lead to more black residents being harassed by police.
It fits a pattern for the Council. They backed down on plans to ban fur as part of a wide-ranging package on animal welfare issues after black clergy came out in opposition, while nevertheless charging forward with a controversial ban on foie gras. So the flavored e-cigarette legislation is set to take effect in July, but the menthol cigarette bill will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future.
IT’S WEDNESDAY and, if you celebrate, have a great Thanksgiving. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know … By email: [email protected] and [email protected], or on Twitter: @erinmdurkin and @annagronewold
WHERE’S ANDREW? Headed to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving with his daughters Mariah, Cara and Michaela Wednesday afternoon, returning to New York Sunday Morning. More than three whole days!
WHERE’S BlLL? Signing a bill to extend the hotel occupancy tax and speaking at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Eve Balloon Inflation event.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The speaker and I were asked this question; we said that we’ve never had an inappropriate conversation about JCOPE.” — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, characterizing any conversations he *might* have had regarding leaked votes and an IG probe as legally permissible
PROGRAMMING NOTE: POLITICO New York Playbook will not publish the rest of the week. We’ll be back on our normal schedule come Monday.
COUNCIL MEMBER Andy King spent the last month gallivanting around his district, handing out proclamations and appearing for photo-ops alongside elected officials such as Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, Rep. Eliot Engel and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. But King was on a 30-day suspension, part of one of the the stiffest punishments for ethics violations in City Council history, stemming largely from abusive and retaliatory behavior toward his staff. Council staffers currently working toward forming a union have cited what they see as a lax punishment for King as one reason they need greater protections against retaliation and harassment. King’s political exploits during his 30-day suspension — evidenced by numerous posts on Twitter and Facebook — have exacerbated those concerns. While not expressing explicit support for unionization, current and former Council employees said at a rally Tuesday that King’s punishment did not go far enough and he should be fired. “I have watched for a month as Council Member King has appeared publicly in his community — embraced, able to promote himself — while reinforcing that we staffers who spoke our truth are liars,” one anonymous staffer wrote in a letter read by a colleague at the rally. POLITICO’s Joe Anuta
“A NEW TENANT protection law enacted by the state may already be paying off for tens of thousands of New York City renters, as the number of eviction cases filed by landlords has plummeted. The decline was steepest for the most common type of cases, those brought by landlords against tenants who fell behind on rent payments, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of court data. The new law eliminated certain incentives for landlords to turn over rent-regulated apartments because they could no longer significantly raise rents on the next tenants, or remove most apartments from city rent rules. As a result, New York landlords—not known for their patience when it comes to late rent checks—appear to be giving tenants more time, lawyers said.” Wall Street Journal’s Josh Barbanel
“THE CITY COUNCIL is trying to curb the worst parkers in government. The Council Tuesday passed nine pieces of legislation targeting parking placard abuse among government workers. Among the bills include new requirements for police reports on enforcement; steeper fines; and a three-strike rule that would revoke placards after repeated misuse. ‘Placard abuse is corruption,’ said Speaker Corey Johnson, who sponsored three bills in the package. Council members lambasted city drivers who use their placards to park illegally on sidewalks, in crosswalks and bike lanes or in front of bus stops—measures that erode public trust and make streets less safe, he said.” amNewYork’s Vincent Barone
THEY ARE IMMIGRANT activists and advocates for the homeless, urban planners and budget watchdogs, and they all agree that Gov. Andrew Cuomo must “cancel” his plan to hire 500 new MTA police officers. In a letter sent to Cuomo Tuesday morning, 70 organizations urged him to both halt the police surge and withdraw the additional 500 MTA and NYPD officers who “were unnecessarily added to mass transit this past summer.” The signatories range from the the Brooklyn NAACP to the Riders Alliance, from the Center for Constitutional Rights to Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. For a transit-related issue, the swath of civil society represented in the letter is unusually broad. The groups’ rationale is straightforward: Major crimes on the subway are down; the MTA is facing revenue shortfalls that the hiring spree will severely aggravate; and the police have ”exacerbated conditions of hyper-aggressive policing that criminalizes and harms Black and other New Yorkers of color every day.” POLITICO’s Dana Rubinstein
THE NEW YORK CITY Commission on Human Rights Tuesday announced a $155,000 civil penalty for sexual harassment, the commission’s second largest to date and one that adds to the $2.2 million in damages and penalties it has ordered in the past two years. The penalty was part of a recent settlement in a sexual harassment case against legal recruitment firm Wegman & Partners. While the commission announcement did not specify the actions that resulted in the penalty, a 2017 complaint filed against an executive at the firm accused him of groping, harassing and threatening a female co-worker. The settlement also mandates trainings, nationwide policy changes and establishing an independent counsel or human resources firm to deal with harassment complaints. POLITICO’s Anna Gronewold
“GOV. CUOMO says the Working Families Party has to get to work if it wants to remain relevant. The governor showed little sympathy Tuesday for his one-time political allies after a state commission approved a plan that could boot the progressive party from the state ballot. ‘If it’s not a credible party, then it shouldn’t be getting credible tax dollars,’ Cuomo said at an event where he gave away Thanksgiving turkeys on Long Island. The Public Campaign Finance Commission, tasked with creating a public matching funds program for state elections, voted on Monday to raise the requirement for minor parties to maintain ballot status from 50,000 votes in statewide elections every four years to 130,000, or 2% of the total vote every two years. The higher threshold could wipe out the WFP and other minor political parties who fail to meet the mark. ‘The Working Families Party, I think, would meet that threshold,’ Cuomo claimed. ‘You have to work to meet that threshold, but if you’re not working to meet a threshold, then you shouldn’t be qualifying for public money anyway.’” Daily News’ Denis Slattery
— While some state lawmakers expressed their disapproval with the final plan, legislative leaders haven’t said much about the expected outcome.
“BEING A REPUBLICAN in Westchester County, a sprawling landscape of suburban wealth and power that is home to nearly 1 million residents just north of New York City, used to be a communal rite of passage. Voting Republican was as common as the smell of fresh-cut grass on a bucolic golf course. Joining the GOP was considered the first step to ascending the county’s economic, religious, academic and social power structure — and for good reason. Westchester was, after all, the springboard for such moderate Republican stalwarts as Nelson Rockefeller in the “Mad Men” era of Brooks Brothers suits, three-martini lunches, stay-at-home mothers and all-male train commuting to Manhattan. Years later, Westchester became the base for the political ascendancy of another middle-of-the-road Republican, George Pataki.
But in the last two decades, Westchester’s political topography — like that of other suburbs across America — changed dramatically. Republicans — and especially Trump supporters — have had to change too.” Journal News’ Mike Kelly
“A FEDERAL JUDGE has thrown out a lawsuit from a coalition of advocacy groups against the Rensselaer County Board of Elections over a proposal to share voter registration data with federal current events authorities, saying both parties shouldn’t have acted so quickly. U.S. District Judge David Hurd of the Northern District of New York wrote Tuesday that both the advocacy groups, and county officials, should have taken a breath over the whole ordeal. Hurd threw out the lawsuit because, as he said, the advocacy groups hadn’t convinced him they would be harmed by the county’s proposed policy, which was never codified and didn’t take effect after it was announced. ‘Perhaps, had they waited for any actual policy to take effect, and had they brought forward a proposed plaintiff who had a less tenuous grasp at standing than those it mustered, this Court might have examined its claims and taken a careful look at the proposed policy,’ Hurd wrote.” New York Law Journal’s Dan Clark
#UpstateAmerica and FIRST LOOK: What does it take to rename a mountain? Turns out a lot of work and a lot of big names. Last week, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul sent a letter to trump Board of Geographic Names in her role as head of the New York State Women’s Suffrage Commission urging them to get a move on renaming Mount Discovery in the Adirondacks as Mount Inez.
The new name is actually an old one. The town of Lewis passed a resolution in 1916 to rename the peak after suffragist Inez Milholland Boissevain, whose last public words were famously to Woodrow Wilson: “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” But the town never went through the actual naming process. Now local advocates are doing the work. Hochul and the commission want the board to approve the renaming before the August 26, 2020 19th Amendment centennial. Other public officials on board are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, NY-21 Rep. Elise Stefanik, and state Sen. Betty Little. — Anna
“REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES once led the fight against Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s signature ‘stop and frisk’ policing policy. But the Democratic rising star from Brooklyn says he’s now willing to give the billionaire a second chance as a presidential candidate. ‘The more the merrier,’ Jeffries told the Daily News editorial board on Tuesday. ‘His entry into the race, from my standpoint, is a welcome development, because he’s got a track record to run on.’ Jeffries said Bloomberg would have to show he can ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to moving past his apology for ‘stop and frisk’ and other problematic policies he championed during his GOP-friendly tenure in Gracie Mansion.” New York Daily News’ Dave Goldiner
“CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON slammed Mayor de Blasio for his nearly non-stop attacks on his predecessor since Michael Bloomberg announced his renewed interest in running for president earlier this month. Johnson on Tuesday pointedly noted that Bloomberg refrained from commenting on de Blasio’s own presidential run, and said Johnson and his predecessors have shown a ‘level of graciousness’ that de Blasio lacks. ‘There, I think, is typically a level of graciousness that occurs,’ Johnson said at a Tuesday news conference. ‘Now that may change when someone decides to run for president.’ ‘When Mayor de Blasio was running for president, I didn’t see Mayor Bloomberg criticizing him.’ While de Blasio was widely pilloried for his abysmal presidential run, which came to an end in September, Bloomberg refrained from making public remarks. Bloomberg’s also been silent during other perceived low points of de Blasio’s two terms.” New York Daily News’ Shant Shahrigian
— Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick both qualified for the ballot in Florida.
— Here’s why Bloomberg insists he’s not crazy, our John F. Harris, Sally Goldenberg and Marc Caputo write.
— Per POLITICO Influence: “The Democratic consultant Doug Schoen has stopped working for a Ukrainian billionaire in anticipation of working on Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Schoen notified the Justice Department in a recent filing that he stopped working as a foreign agent for Viktor Pinchuk, a longtime client, on Nov. 6.”
“REP. CAROLYN MALONEY’s first official act as chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee is a lawsuit filed Tuesday to force the Trump administration to hand over documents that Democrats suspect will reveal attempts to sabotage the U.S. census. Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross refused to fork over numerous documents as the Oversight Committee probed how and why the administration wanted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Opponents of the question argued that it would suppress the count of minorities in the country. The Supreme Court ruled in June that Team Trump could not add the question, finding the justifications for it were made up. Still, Barr and Ross refused to comply with congressional subpoenas. Congress voted in July to hold them in contempt.” New York Daily News’ Michael McAuliff
“FOUR BLUE STATES that had unsuccessfully sued the IRS over a new $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for state and local taxes filed an appeal on Tuesday. The states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland — originally filed suit against the Treasury Department, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the IRS, among others, in July 2018. They alleged that the new limit on the so-called SALT deduction, part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, was ‘an unconstitutional assault on states’ sovereign choices.’ U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan dismissed the suit on Sept. 30, saying that the plaintiffs ultimately failed to show that the SALT cap was unconstitutionally coercive or that it imposed on their own sovereign rights. The four states are challenging the dismissal, and filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today.” CNBC’s Darla Mercado
— How Anthony Weiner changed the course of history.
— Staten Islanders’ new subway cars won’t run until 2022, THE CITY reports. Residents say the old trains are poorly insulated from the winter cold.
— The Holland Tunnel’s controversial holiday decorations are coming back.
— While protests at Syracuse University have calmed, some students of color have reflected on what they deem “a hollow commitment to diversity and inclusion,” The New York Times writes.
— Hundreds of genetic profiles of victims and witnesses have been removed from the city’s DNA database.
— Council members are proposing new city offices dedicated to pedestrians and bicyclists.
— Electric Citi Bikes deemed too dangerous to ride in New York have been converted into traditional bikes and sent to Chicago.
— The Fifth Avenue Association hired a designer to create holiday displays for vacant stores on the fabled stretch.
— Vending machines selling fresh food like salads will get letter grades and health inspections just like traditional restaurants.
— An analyst said Gov. Cuomo’s “design-build” program might cost the MTA more money.
— “The New York Power Authority is moving to increase its budget for energy efficiency capital projects by $1.5 billion to avoid a financing shortfall as customers demand more, projects get more complex and state emissions goals accelerate.”
— The latest from Mount Vernon: Cop Mike Bovell is alleging that his colleagues have labelled him a rat for uncovering corruption.
— The Buffalo News’ Editorial Board wants more Robin Schimmingers.
— Airport catering workers at JFK protested for better wages and healthcare.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Caroline Kennedy is 62 … Gail Sheehy … Alex Wagner, co-host and EP of Showtime’s “The Circus,” special correspondent for CBS News and contributing editor at The Atlantic … Andrea Koppel-Pollack … WSJ’s Katie Honan … Libby Leist, EP of NBC’s “Today” show … Dina Cappiello, editorial director and EVP at Edelman … Christine Taylor … Tim Pawlenty is 59 … (was Tuesday): Ethan Bronner turned 65
MEDIAWATCH — Gretchen Morgenson will be a senior financial investigative reporter at NBC. She is a senior special writer for investigation at the WSJ.
— Per AP’s David Bauder: “Former CNN mainstay Nancy Grace is signing up for a crime show on Fox Nation, an illustration of how Fox News’ streaming service has evolved counter to expectations one year into operation. Cameras will show her delivering her podcast and SiriusXM radio show, ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace,’ five days a week. The program is modeled after her popular television series that ran on the HLN network for many years.”
— Per AP’s Mark Kennedy: “Showtime will be putting the spotlight on Cindy Adams, the New York Post columnist and elder stateswoman of Manhattan gossip. The 89-year-old Adams will be the subject of a documentary series in 2021 with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive producing.”
MAKING MOVES — Wellesley Daniels is now campaign manager for Evelyn Farkas’ NY congressional campaign, which raised over $235K in its first week. She most recently managed a local race in Virginia for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and in 2018 was comms director on Nancy Soderberg’s congressional race in FL-06 and on Alison Friedman’s primary in VA-10.
ENGAGED — “Hoda Kotb is engaged to Joel Schiffman,” by CNN’s Lisa Respers France
THE FIRM ACTING as a federal monitor overseeing reforms at the New York City Housing Authority is being paid $12 million for a year’s worth of work — with the city paying firm chairman Bart Schwartz a rate of nearly $600 an hour, according to a draft copy of the agreement. The city’s Law Department posted a public hearing notice Tuesday indicating the annual payment for Schwartz’s Guidepost Solutions, which was named monitor in February after a settlement between the de Blasio administration and federal prosecutors in Manhattan … Schwartz himself pulls in $594 per hour under the contract, with his 2019 take-home capped at $350,000. Executive officers just under him are paid more than $500 per hour, according to the agreement. POLITICO’s Joe Anuta
— A pregnant woman said she and her son would rather move into a shelter for Thanksgiving than continue to deal with the smell of sewage in their NYCHA apartment.
The day ahead: A return for Canadian RJ Barrett to Toronto, where the Knicks face the Raptors. The Nets are in Boston. Lots of fun college hoops on the schedule as well, including a Stony Brook matinee in Brooklyn against LIU and St. Bonaventure at undefeated Binghamton on the women’s side. A holiday weekend that follows includes highlights like the Bills on Thanksgiving at Dallas, the Sixers at The Garden Friday night, and Army-Marist men’s hoops in Poughkeepsie on Saturday. Enjoy it all.
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