Lately, there have been strange happenings within New York’s body politic. Here’s a sampling:
Every three hours a person in New York City dies from drug overdose. There were over 2,600 such deaths in 2022 and over 1,300 so far this year.
What is the City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner’s plan to address the crisis? In early June, Commissioner Ashwin Vasan unveiled a street vending machine that contains among other things “safe smoking” crack pipes and lip balm.
Items procured from the machine are free of charge. The city expects to include syringes in the future.
“The pretense,” the New York Post notes, “is that this will slow or stop the surge in overdose deaths, along with other grim side effects of drug addiction.”
Do you honestly believe free drug paraphernalia will combat drug abuse?
My guess: the free products will only further enable drug uses.
Speaking of drugs, the sales tax revenue the Hochul administration projected from the legal sale of marijuana is missing the mark by a mile.
According to a report commissioned the New York Medical Marijuana Operations, “the current state of the Cannabis Market in New York is an unmitigated disaster.”
The study concludes that “state cannabis laws are too restrictive for legal weed vendors while allowing an illegal market to flourish.”
While there are merely 15 legal dispensaries open at the present time, there are at least 1,400 illegal ones in New York City and hundreds more statewide—that are not reporting sales taxes.
What’s being done to crack down on the illegal vendors? Very little. There is more talk in official circles than action.
Shoplifting in retail stores is out of control. Struggling shopkeepers have been forced to expend scarce capital to install plastic anti-theft cases.
I wasted 10 minutes the other day in a New Hyde Park drugstore waiting for a worker to unlock a shelf that contained the toothpaste I wished to purchase!
In New York City there were 13,798 reported retail thefts in the first quarter of this year.
Thieves locked up are slapped with non-bail-eligible misdemeanors if they stole less than $1,000 in merchandise.
The results of no-bail in 2022: 327 people were responsible for 30% of the 22,000 shoplifting arrests.
Nallely De Jesus, owner of Associated Supermarkets in the Bronx, has written, “But the sad truth is too many workers have been attacked, too many stores have been robbed, and too many customers have been placed in danger, which is why we need the state to step up with tougher penalties for recidivist shoplifters who attack retail workers.”
Will Albany legislators act on her plea? Don’t hold your breath.
Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie, supports amending “Sammy’s Law” to drop New York City’s speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph.
However, the speed restrictions are often violated by State legislators.
The Post recently reported, “Speeding appears to be a way of life for the lower chamber. City Records show at least 125 traffic violations, overwhelmingly for speeding, by vehicles with Assembly-affiliated license plates.”
Speaker Heastie’s car with a NYA-1 plate has been hit with speeding violations at least 11 times, the Post reported Monday.
My question: Were taxpayer dollars expended to pay the fines?
The self-righteous former mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who claimed he always “put the public interest first,” was slapped with the biggest fine ever leveled by the City’s Conflict-of-Interest Board.
De Blasio has to fork over $155,000 in penalties and another $320,000 in reimbursement charges for using New York police officers for personal reasons.
The 40-page report released by the board lists de Blasio’s many abuses.
For example, cops were ordered to move his daughter’s personal effects from a Brooklyn apartment to her new residence in Manhattan.
Police officers were used as chauffeurs for members of the de Blasio family.
On one occasion, cops picked up de Blasio’s brother at an airport and drove for two hours to drop off the sibling at a New Jersey address.
The Conflict Board concluded that de Blasio, time and again, ignored ethics guidelines and used police personnel during his ill-fated presidential campaign for political purposes.
De Blasio, as well as Speaker Heastie and his Democratic colleagues, apparently subscribe to the adage “rules for thee but not for me.”
I will report more strange but true political happenings in future columns. Stay tuned.