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New York press criticized Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., for what they called “11th hour” proposed changes to bail reform and “cowardly” caginess regarding any questions about her rollback plan.
The controversial 2019 bail reform law passed by the state’s Democrat-majority legislature limited a judge’s discretion to consider whether an individual should have to post bail. Hochul said in January that she supported the “fundamental premise” of the reforms.
The changes in her new 10-point plan, however, include provisions to give judges new criteria to determine who is eligible for bail, targeted reforms of the “Raise the Age” statute, raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old, and a strengthening of Kendra’s Law, which requires people who have mental health issues receive treatment, among other changes.
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When pressed about how she intends to amend bail reform, Hochul has told reporters in recent days that she “doesn’t negotiate in public.” Yet several in the press accused her of hypocrisy after she co-authored a defensive op-ed with Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin in the New York Daily News Wednesday, arguing that their opinion piece was the definition of public negotiation.
In their joint piece, Hochul and Benjamin said the 2019 bail reform passed by the state legislature was “successful,” but not “perfect.” Since the measure passed, New York has seen a crime wave, including “a distressing increase in shootings and homicides,” they wrote.
“We are committed to protecting the progress we’ve made toward a fairer criminal justice system,” Hochul and Benjamin said. “But that is not at odds with making thoughtful, measured changes to our laws that would strengthen public safety.”
“Monday: we won’t negotiate our positions in public and in the press, full stop Wednesday: here’s an op-ed in a newspaper about the thing we said we wouldn’t negotiate in public and in the press,” Dan Clark, host of PBS’ “New York Now,” said of the op-ed.
NY1 News reporter Zack Fink shared a video of Hochul ignoring his questions on bail reform on Twitter, along with some commentary.
“Another day, another ditch,” Fink tweeted. “@GovKathyHochul is whisked into an SUV shortly after delivering remarks in the Bronx. @nyspolice block us from getting close. Hochul has refused to answer any specific questions about her 11th hour proposal to change criminal justice laws in budget.”
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“Cowardly Kathy,” Law & Crime editor Colin Kalmbacher tweeted.
“Hopefully no one tells @GovKathyHochul that the executive budget she proposed in January was released to the public or she won’t be able to keep claiming she doesn’t ‘negotiate in public,’” David Lombardo, host of WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, tweeted Monday.
Some Democratic New York lawmakers and political activists were just as irritated at the lack of transparency regarding Hochul’s alleged plan.
“Governor Hochul ran from the media because what she’s offering most of us is a combo of crumbs + criminalization,” Bright Dae-Jung Limm of the Working Families Party of New York tweeted. “We need the whole meal and policies that will actually create public safety. And we will get what we need if we say no, to her budget proposal and to her next term.”
One lawmaker, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn), even threatened to go on a hunger strike to oppose Hochul’s plan.
The back and forth over Hochul’s proposals comes just weeks before the state budget is finalized.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams ran and won last year on a platform that included what some considered a tough-on-crime policy, saying it was a far cry from the strained relationship between the police and the mayor’s office under the leadership of Bill de Blasio.
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Hochul’s disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned from office following sexual harassment allegations, is reportedly considering staging a political comeback and running against Hochul next year. Media analysts and observers called Cuomo’s purported move “insane,” but not surprising, arguing that was his plan since the day he resigned.