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    The Key Elections Taking Place in 2023

    Among the races to watch are governors’ contests in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi and mayoral elections in Chicago and Philadelphia.It might be tempting to focus on the 2024 presidential election now that the midterms are in the rearview mirror, but don’t sleep on 2023: key races for governor, mayor and other offices will be decided.Their outcomes will be closely watched for signs of whether Democrats or Republicans have momentum going into next year’s presidential election and congressional races — and for what they signal about the influence of former President Donald J. Trump.Virginia and New Jersey have noteworthy state house elections, and in Wisconsin, a state Supreme Court race will determine the balance of power in a body whose conservative majority routinely sides with Republicans. Here’s what to watch:Kentucky governorOf the three governors’ races this year, only Kentucky features an incumbent Democrat seeking re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2020. The race also appears packed with the most intrigue.Gov. Andy Beshear won by less than 6,000 votes in 2019, ousting Matt Bevin, the Trump-backed Republican incumbent in the cherry-red state that is home to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate G.O.P. leader.A growing field of Republicans has ambitions of settling the score in 2023, including Daniel Cameron, who in 2019 became the first Black person to be elected as Kentucky’s attorney general, an office previously held by Mr. Beshear. Mr. Cameron, who is seen as a possible successor to Mr. McConnell, drew attention in 2020 when he announced that a grand jury did not indict two Louisville officers who shot Breonna Taylor. Last June, Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Cameron for governor, but there will be competition for the G.O.P. nomination.Attorney General Daniel Cameron, signing the papers for his candidacy last week, is among Republicans seeking to challenge Gov. Andy Beshear this year.Timothy D. Easley/Associated PressKelly Craft, a former ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Trump, is also running. So are Mike Harmon, the state auditor of public accounts, and Ryan Quarles, the state’s agricultural commissioner, and several other Republicans. The primary will be on May 16.Louisiana governorGov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who narrowly won a second term in 2019, is not eligible to run again because of term limits. The open-seat race has tantalized some prominent Republicans, including Jeff Landry, the state’s attorney general, who has declared his candidacy.Two other Republicans weighing entering the race are John Schroder, the state treasurer who has told supporters he will run, and Representative Garret Graves.Shawn Wilson, the state’s transportation secretary under Mr. Edwards, is one of the few Democrats who have indicated interest in running in deep-red Louisiana.Electing a New Speaker of the HouseRepresentative Kevin McCarthy won the speakership after a revolt within the Republican Party set off a long stretch of unsuccessful votes.Inside the Speaker Fight: Mr. McCarthy’s speaker bid turned into a rolling disaster. “The Daily” has the inside story of how it went so wrong and what he was forced to give up.A Tenuous Grip: By making concessions to far-right representatives, Mr. McCarthy has effectively given them carte blanche to disrupt the workings of the House — and to hold him hostage to their demands.Looming Consequences: Congressional gridlock brought on by far-right Republicans now seems more likely to lead to government shutdowns or, worse, a default on debt obligations.Roots of the Chaos: How did Mr. McCarthy’s bid become a four-day debacle? The story begins with the zero-sum politics of Newt Gingrich.Mississippi governorGov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, is running for a second term. But the advantage of incumbency and a substantial campaign fund may not be enough to stop a primary challenge, especially with his job approval numbers among the lowest of the nation’s governors.Philip Gunn, Mississippi’s House speaker, has been coy about possible plans to enter the race after announcing in November that he would not seek re-election to the Legislature. Among the other Republicans whose names have been bandied about is Michael Watson, the secretary of state. But Mr. Reeves is the only Republican to have filed so far; the deadline is Feb. 1.A Democrat hasn’t been elected governor of Mississippi in two decades, since a contest was decided by the Legislature because the winning candidate did not receive a majority of votes. Not surprisingly, few Democrats have stepped forward to run. One name to watch is Brandon Presley, a public service commissioner. Mr. Presley is a relative of Elvis Presley, who was from Tupelo, Miss., according to Mississippi Today, a nonprofit news website.U.S. House (Virginia’s Fourth District)The death in late November of Representative A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Virginia, prompted Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, to schedule a special election for Feb. 21.In December, Democrats resoundingly nominated Jennifer McClellan, a state senator, to represent the party in the contest for Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Richmond and leans heavily Democratic. She could become the first Black woman elected to Congress in Virginia, where she would complete the two-year term that Mr. McEachin won by 30 percentage points just weeks before his death.Republicans tapped Leon Benjamin, a Navy veteran and pastor who lost to Mr. McEachin in November and in 2020.Chicago mayorMayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, a Democrat who in 2019 became the first Black woman and first openly gay person to lead the nation’s third-most populous city, faces a gantlet of challengers in her quest for re-election.That test will arrive somewhat early in the year, with the mayoral election set for Feb. 28. If no candidate finishes with a majority of the votes, a runoff will be held on April 4.Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago faces several challengers in her re-election bid.Jim Vondruska/ReutersThe crowded field includes Representative Jesús G. García, a Democrat who is known as Chuy and who was overwhelmingly re-elected to a third term in his Cook County district in November and previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor. In the current race, Ms. Lightfoot has attacked Mr. García over receiving money for his House campaign from Sam Bankman-Fried, the criminally charged founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX.Ms. Lightfoot’s other opponents include Kam Buckner, a state legislator; Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner; Sophia King and Roderick T. Sawyer, who both serve on the City Council; Paul Vallas, a former chief executive of Chicago public schools; and Ja’Mal Green, a prominent activist in the city.Philadelphia mayorAn open-seat race for mayor in Pennsylvania’s foremost Democratic bastion has attracted an expansive field of candidates. The office is held by Jim Kenney, a Democrat who is not eligible to run again because of term limits.Five members of the City Council have resigned to enter the race, which city rules require. They are Allan Domb, Derek Green, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quiñones Sánchez.The field also includes Rebecca Rhynhart, the city’s controller, who has likewise resigned in order to run; Amen Brown, a state legislator; Jeff Brown, a supermarket chain founder; and James DeLeon; a retired judge.Wisconsin Supreme CourtConservatives are clinging to a one-seat majority on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, but a retirement within the court’s conservative ranks could shift the balance of power this year. The court’s justices have increasingly been called on to settle landmark lawsuits involving elections, gerrymandering, abortion and other contentious issues.Two conservative and two liberal candidates have entered what is technically a nonpartisan election to succeed Judge Patience D. Roggensack on the seven-member court.Daniel Kelly, a conservative former justice on the state Supreme Court who lost his seat in the 2020 election, is seeking a comeback. Running against him in the conservative lane is Jennifer Dorow, a circuit court judge in Waukesha County who drew widespread attention when she presided over the trial of Darrell E. Brooks, the man convicted in the killing of six people he struck with his car during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis., in 2021.Janet Protasiewicz and Everett Mitchell, judges from Milwaukee County and Dane County, which includes Madison, the capital, are seeking to give liberals a majority on the court.The two candidates who receive the most votes in the nonpartisan primary on Feb. 21 — regardless of their leanings — will face each other in the general election on April 4.Legislature (Virginia and New Jersey)Virginia is emerging as a potential tempest in 2023, with its divided legislature up for re-election and elected officials squarely focused on the issue of abortion — not to mention a Republican governor who is flirting with a run for president.Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s repeal last summer of Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old constitutional right to an abortion.His proposal is expected to resonate with Republican lawmakers, who narrowly control the House of Delegates. But it is likely to run into fierce opposition in the Senate, where Democrats are clinging to a slender majority. All seats in both chambers are up for election.Another Mid-Atlantic state to watch is New Jersey, where Republicans made inroads in 2021 despite being in the minority and are seeking to build on those gains. More

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    $142,000 a Year: State Legislators’ Expected New Salary

    Lawmakers are headed to Albany today to vote themselves a raise that would make them the best-paid legislators in the nation.Good morning. It’s Thursday. We’ll find out why the State Senate and the Assembly will convene today in an unusual special session. We’ll also look at why some New Yorkers say race shapes the criticism of Mayor Eric Adams.Tristan Spinski for The New York TimesState lawmakers are gathering in Albany today to give themselves a raise. If only a salary bump were that easy for everyone. The bill before the lawmakers, who already get six-figure base salaries for a five-month scheduled session in Albany, would boost their pay to roughly twice the median family income in the United States and slightly more than five times what lawmakers in neighboring Connecticut make. I asked my colleague Jesse McKinley for details.How are lawmakers in New York paid in comparison with other state legislators?Pretty darn well. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New York lawmakers rank No. 2 in the nation in base pay, thanks to a raise they received in 2018. California, which has a habit of besting New York in all kinds of categories (population, economic output, number of professional baseball teams) is No. 1 for the moment.Won’t this make lawmakers in New York the best-compensated in the nation?Yes, with Thursday’s anticipated pay hike, Albany’s 213 lawmakers will now have the highest base salary of any in the country: $142,000 a year, from the current $110,000 a year. State lawmakers in California will still be taking home $119,702 a year.What’s the catch?The concession made by lawmakers to get that $32,000 raise is that they will agree to a $35,000 cap on outside income, something that good government groups have long pushed for (though some would like an even lower threshold for such nongovernment earning).The concern is the potential for corruption and conflicts of interest that could arise from, say, working in a law firm. Legislative leaders say this is a big step toward wiping out Albany’s well-deserved reputation for money-driven malfeasance. But the $35,000 limit won’t take effect until 2025, unlike the raise, which will take effect on Jan. 1.Why did they go back to Albany for one day just to give themselves a raise?Albany loves leaving things till the last minute, including its budgets, which used to be chronically late and now are only periodically late.The more germane answer, however, is that the bill authorizing the raise has to be approved before the new session of the Legislature begins in January. Lawmakers cannot vote themselves a raise that takes effect during the same session as the vote. It says so in the state Constitution. Obviously time is running out between now and January — hence, a lot of people descending on the capital for a one-day-only session.Will Gov. Kathy Hochul sign the bill raising their compensation? What happens if she decides not to sign it?The governor hasn’t explicitly said she’ll sign the bill to hike the lawmakers’ pay, but she’s expressed support for such an increase in the past. Also, it seems unlikely to me that the legislators would go all the way back to Albany without an implicit understanding that Hochul — a Democrat, like the leaders that control both houses of the Legislature — is cool with higher salaries.If she decided not to sign the bill, my best guess is that she would get very few Christmas presents from legislative leaders this year.What has the reaction been?Giving yourself a raise is always a bad look for politicians, even if many outside groups agree that it’s not unjustified. Republicans have lambasted the raise — and its timing during a “special session” — and some watchdog groups have said it doesn’t go far enough to limit outside earning.But legislative leaders stand by it, including the speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie. “I don’t think there’s enough money in the world,” he said recently, “that could compensate you for being away from your families.”WeatherPrepare for wind gusts and rain persisting through the evening. Temps will be steady around the low to mid-50s.ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKINGIn effect until Dec. 26.The latest New York newsJohnny Milano for The New York TimesCrimeSuffolk cyberattack: The malicious cyberattack that forced the county government offline for weeks this fall began more than a year ago, officials revealed.Brooklyn subway shooting: The man accused in a shooting spree on an N train has told his lawyers he wants to admit to the April attack. He is expected to plead guilty to terrorism as well as a firearms charge.Councilman’s home invaded: Protesters descended on the home and the office of a gay member of the New York City Council, vandalizing the walls with homophobic graffiti and attacking one of his neighbors, over his support for Drag Story Hour events at libraries.More local newsA fall triathlon: The New York City Triathlon will move to the fall, with a race date of Oct. 1, following years of interruptions from extreme summer heat.Seasonal staples are back: After one holiday season lost to the pandemic and another curtailed by Omicron, “The Nutcracker” is being danced, “A Christmas Carol” is being performed and “Messiah” is being sung again.“Almost Famous” closing: “Almost Famous,” a stage adaptation of the acclaimed 2000 film, will close on Broadway on Jan. 8 after facing soft ticket sales in a competitive market.Race and criticism of the mayorDavid Dinkins in 1988.Joyce Dopkeen/The New York TimesThe end of the year is in sight — the end of Mayor Eric Adams’s first year in office. It has been a difficult 12 months in which he faced the challenges of moving the city past the pandemic, reinvigorating a weakened economy and tempering heightened fears of crime.Some New Yorkers have questioned whether he moved fast enough to address intractable problems like homelessness and a lack of affordable housing. Complaints have also focused on his hiring practices, his response to the crisis at the Rikers Island jail complex and how he handled the influx of migrants from Texas.But my colleagues Jeffery C. Mays and Emma G. Fitzsimmons write that several Black leaders are raising concerns that criticism of the mayor has been shaped by race. They suggest that implicit racism undermined Mayor David Dinkins, the city’s first Black mayor, a generation ago, and could undercut Adams now.Adams himself said that he was accustomed to criticism, but that when some people “look at these two Black mayors, Dinkins and my role now, there are those that wish we fail.”“Look at all the mayors,” he said. “Dinkins and I are the only two mayors that people talk about how we went out at night. They used to say he had a tuxedo in his car all the time because he went out to different galas and balls and what have you. That’s the role of the mayor.”Adams’s allies may be hoping to discourage criticism at a time when his popularity appears to be waning: In a recent Siena College poll, 50 percent of voters in the city viewed him favorably and 35 percent unfavorably.Adams, a former police captain, has sought to have a better relationship with the police than Dinkins did: He brought back a controversial plainclothes police unit. He has also dispatched waves of officers to address crime on the subway and protected police funding in his budget while often standing by officers accused of misconduct.Adams said he had drawn two lessons from Dinkins’s loss to Rudolph Giuliani in 1993: Focus on making “real changes in office” and do not allow your political coalition to erode. He has made sure that his base feels heard after winning the mayoralty with a coalition of Black and Latino voters and moderates outside Manhattan.“My secret sauce is everyday working-class families,” he said, adding that he had met some of those families on a recent visit to the Rockaways in Queens. “They’re just not complicated. They just want a safe place to raise their children and families. Those are my folks.”METROPOLITAN diaryRock, rock, rockDear Diary:“Rock, rock, rock,” I heard a voice repeating. “Rock, rock, rock.”I was walking up a trail into the Ramble in Central Park when I came upon the voice’s owner: a tall, slender man with a twist of silver hair over one eye.I waited, not wanting to interrupt whatever it was that he was doing.“Rock, rock, rock,” he said again in a monotone. “Rock, rock, rock.”Two minutes later, a red cardinal flew down from a tree, landed on a large flat rock and did the hokey pokey, hopping tentatively toward the middle of the rock.That was when I noticed a single peanut in the shell sitting there. The cardinal grappled with how to lift the nut. After finally securing it, the bird flew off.The man turned to me.“The wife is much smarter,” he said in a serious tone. “I’ve known the family for years. I never have to wait when she’s around.”— Sharyn WolfIllustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.Melissa Guerrero, Morgan Malget and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team nytoday@nytimes.com.Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox. More

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    Scott Stringer Sues for Defamation Over Sexual Assault Claim

    Mr. Stringer, the former New York City comptroller, said that a woman’s claims of sexual assault were lies and caused “irreparable harm” as he ran for mayor.Nearly 20 months after allegations of unwanted sexual advances derailed his campaign for New York City mayor, Scott M. Stringer sued one of his accusers for defamation on Monday, arguing that she smeared his reputation with falsehoods and misrepresentations.In a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Stringer said that the woman, Jean Kim, had done “irreparable harm to him and his political future” by portraying what he called an “on-and-off” consensual relationship as predatory. He demanded that Ms. Kim retract her accusations and pay damages.“These defamatory statements have caused Mr. Stringer emotional pain and suffering, as well as injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,” lawyers for Mr. Stinger, a longtime Democratic politician and former New York City comptroller, wrote in the 12-page complaint.The legal action appears to be a calculated risk for Mr. Stringer, 62. If successful, it could help clear up his public image as he contemplates a political comeback. But it also serves to resurface Ms. Kim’s decades-old claims of misconduct, while posing the risk of an embarrassing legal defeat and reopening scrutiny into an earlier chapter in his life.Defamation cases are notoriously hard to prove, especially for public figures. To even get his case heard in court, Mr. Stringer must get around New York’s statute of limitations for defamation, and his lawyers are relying on a relatively novel legal theory to do so.They wrote in the suit that the matter was reopened legally in August 2022, when they assert — with scant detail — that Ms. Kim caused Representative Carolyn Maloney to resurface her defamatory statement against Mr. Stringer.The factual and legal issues are particularly relevant at a moment when New York and the country are still grappling with balancing the claims of women propelled by the #MeToo movement against the right to due process, and appraising what should happen to public figures like Mr. Stringer who are accused of misconduct decades after the fact.Ms. Kim and a lawyer who had represented her during the mayoral campaign did not comment on Monday morning, after the suit was filed.In an interview on Friday, Mr. Stringer said that he decided to take legal action now, after a needed “cooling-off period” for his family, to salvage his reputation. He acknowledged that waiting so long after the initial statements may have constrained his options legally.“There are times you could just walk away,” Mr. Stringer said. “But it was a lie. It was just a total lie. And I can’t live with myself if I did not do everything in my power to expose it.”Ms. Kim came forward in April 2021, in the heat of the Democratic primary for mayor. At the time, Mr. Stringer, a liberal who had slowly risen through the ranks of city politics, was considered a top-tier candidate for the nomination, though he seldom led early public polls.In a news conference and media interviews, Ms. Kim said that Mr. Stringer sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was working as an unpaid intern on his unsuccessful campaign for public advocate. She said Mr. Stringer, then a state assemblyman whom she viewed as an older mentor figure, repeatedly groped her without consent, put his hands down the back of her pants, pressured her to have sex — and then warned her not to tell anyone.“He constantly reminded me of his power by saying things like, ‘You want me to make a phone call for you to change your life,’ ‘You want me to make you the first Asian district leader,’” Ms. Kim later told The New York Times. Many prominent supporters quickly backed away from his campaign. Mr. Stringer stayed in the race, but ultimately finished fifth in a primary election won by Eric Adams, who went on to become mayor.Mr. Stringer disputed Ms. Kim’s account, saying they were peers and that their relationship had been consensual and public within the tight circles of Upper West Side Democratic politics. His campaign also presented documents that showed that Ms. Kim, who has worked as a political lobbyist, might have helped one of Mr. Stringer’s rivals, Andrew Yang, which she disputed.Monday’s lawsuit largely repeats the conflicting stories without new evidence, and seeks to highlight factual errors or inconsistencies in Ms. Kim’s claims.It remains unclear if Ms. Kim’s version of events can be independently corroborated; she has not provided any records, nor has she mentioned associates with whom she discussed the allegations at the time.Defamation, particularly cases involving public figures like Mr. Stringer, can be difficult to prove, and the contradictory claims by Ms. Kim and Mr. Stringer — involving shifting sexual and romantic mores, political power and few hard pieces of evidence — only add to that burden.Mr. Stringer appears to have even more pressing legal burdens, with Ms. Kim likely to argue for dismissal because her original statements fall outside New York’s statute of limitations.His argument that the timeline was restarted in August rests on photos on social media that apparently show Ms. Kim at a campaign event with Ms. Maloney, who was running in a primary contest against Representative Jerrold Nadler, a longtime mentor of Mr. Stringer’s.Two weeks later, the congresswoman attacked Mr. Nadler in The New York Post for supporting “a man accused of sexual assault.” The lawsuit argues that it should have been “reasonably foreseeable” for Ms. Kim that Ms. Maloney would “republish” her claims after their meeting.Some allies of Mr. Stringer, left, believe he should be considered a potential heir to his mentor, Representative Jerrold Nadler, right, if he decides to retire.Hiroko Masuike/The New York TimesLegal experts briefed on the issues raised by the case, though, said that the application of the theory known as “republication” would be ripe for challenge on multiple grounds. Though the suit insinuates that Ms. Kim somehow prompted Ms. Maloney’s statement, Mr. Stringer’s lawyers never actually state what, if anything, she told the congresswoman to encourage or direct her to reference Mr. Stringer. “If there’s no clear evidence that the defendant directed the third party to make the statement, it’s fairly likely the case would be dismissed,” said Lee Levine, a retired media lawyer with decades of experience litigating defamation cases, including some for The Times.Though The Times reviewed a draft of the complaint before it was filed, it agreed with Mr. Stringer not to share details of the case with Mr. Levine or anyone else ahead of time.Mr. Stringer and his lawyers were clearly aware of the statutory limits. The suit filed on Monday made no mention of a second woman, Teresa Logan, who followed Ms. Kim’s allegations by accusing Mr. Stringer of kissing and groping her at a bar he helped found in the 1990s. That instance, Mr. Stringer conceded, was clearly outside the statute of limitations.Mr. Stringer said in 2021 that he had “no memory” of the woman but added that if they had met, he was sorry to have made her uncomfortable.If the case proceeds, Mr. Stringer and his allies believe the discovery process will turn up new and relevant information related to Ms. Kim’s actions and whether she coordinated her public statements with any of his political rivals.Mr. Stringer is represented in the suit by Milton L. Williams Jr., a former federal prosecutor and white-collar criminal defense lawyer who currently serves as the chair of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board.After his loss, Mr. Stringer finished out his term as comptroller last December and began a consulting practice. But he almost immediately began discussing a political comeback.He went as far as to briefly campaign for a State Senate seat in Manhattan this spring, but he never actually entered the race. Allies still believe he should be considered a potential heir to Mr. Nadler should the congressman decide to retire.Still, the accusations of misconduct would almost certainly complicate any effort to return to public office.“Right now, I don’t have any plans to run for office. It’s something I’m not ruling out someday,” Mr. Stringer said. “This lawsuit is what’s in front of me at the moment.” More

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    Kamala Harris Swears In Karen Bass as LA’s Mayor

    Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Ms. Bass in a ceremony that celebrated her historic win but also underscored the obstacles she will face.Karen Bass is the first woman and the second Black person to be elected mayor of Los Angeles. During her inaugural speech, Ms. Bass said her first act would be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesLOS ANGELES — Karen Bass was sworn in as the first female mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday and vowed to build consensus among elected leaders as Angelenos contend with racial tensions, surging homelessness and a new rise in coronavirus cases.Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Ms. Bass in a ceremony that celebrated her historic win but also underscored the obstacles she will face. Ms. Bass said that her first act as mayor on Monday would be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.“If we are going to bring Angelenos inside and move our city in a new direction,” Ms. Bass said during her inaugural speech, which was interrupted by protesters at one point, “we must have a single strategy to unite our city and county and engage the state, the federal government, the private sector and every other stakeholder.”Ms. Bass, a former Democratic congresswoman who was on the shortlist to be President Biden’s 2020 running mate, won election against Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer, in a hard-fought race that remained too close to call until a week after the election.Los Angeles, a city of four million people, has been rocked by a surge in post-pandemic homelessness and violent crime, prompting an outcry from citizens who say their quality of life has spiraled in recent years. A citywide poll conducted early this year by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University found that for the first time since 2012, a majority of Angelenos felt the city was going in the wrong direction.The coronavirus itself also remains a scourge: Officials at the event required attendees to wear masks amid an alarming rise in case numbers in the city.Ms. Bass, 69, said she entered the race because the heightened racial divisions and civic unease reminded her of the unrest that preceded the riots that tore the city apart in 1992. In September, her home was burglarized. Ms. Bass, who has long been an advocate for liberal crime prevention policies, promised during her campaign to put more police officers on the streets.She has also promised to declare a state of emergency on homelessness and find homes for 17,000 homeless people in her first year. In practice, she will have to rely on a broad coalition of city and county officials to enact any sweeping plans to bolster social service programs. According to a September report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, some 69,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.Fesia Davenport, the chief executive of Los Angeles County, attended Ms. Bass’s swearing-in ceremony. She said she was hopeful that the new mayor would collaborate with the county to help address homelessness.Ms. Davenport said she did not usually attend political events but made an exception this time.“I wanted to help celebrate and commemorate this momentous occasion,” Ms. Davenport said. “I really feel like she has signaled that she’s willing to tackle the really tough issues, not just manage them.”Though voters have said they are frustrated and cynical about whether a course correction is possible, thousands gathered at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday to celebrate the election of the first woman to lead the city and the second Black mayor after Tom Bradley, who retired in 1993 as the longest-tenured executive in Los Angeles history. Ms. Bass is the latest in a growing number of women who have been elected to local leadership positions.The ceremony featured musicians including Stevie Wonder — whose performance of “Living for the City” brought the new mayor to her feet — Chloe Bailey and the duo Mary Mary. The event also featured a reading from the poet Amanda Gorman, who ended with a line that drew a standing ovation: “Where there’s a will, there is women, and where there’s women, there’s forever a way.”Attendees wore rain jackets and carried umbrellas as they waited to go through security. Some were decked out in suits, others in sequins and Santa hats. While the lines wound through the L.A. Live complex, guests held out their phones to snap selfies in front of the theater’s marquee, showing Ms. Bass’s smiling face and her motto: “A New Day for Los Angeles.”Earle Charles, a professor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., approached the front of the line for his first mayoral inauguration in Los Angeles, where he has lived for almost four decades. He said he is a longtime supporter of Ms. Bass and trusts her to carry through on her campaign promises.“One of the first things, of course, is to take care of the homeless situation,” said Mr. Charles, 69, who lives in Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley. “To me, that’s the primary issue.”Other attendees agreed that homelessness should be at the top of the new mayor’s agenda. Bertha Scott-Smith, 54, said she felt as though Ms. Bass’s predecessor, Eric Garcetti, had not had the easiest time making real progress on the issue.“I hope she doesn’t meet that same pushback,” said Ms. Scott-Smith, who lives in the historically Black neighborhood of Leimert Park.She said that Ms. Bass’s inauguration felt like a historic moment, particularly with the vice president attending.Ms. Harris — the first female vice president, the first woman of color to hold her job, a former California attorney general and a former senator — flew to Los Angeles for the occasion with a planeload of Democrats. The roster included Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands and Representatives Frederica S. Wilson of Florida, Bobby L. Rush of Illinois, Nanette Barragán of California and Tony Cárdenas of California.Kirsten Allen, the vice president’s spokeswoman, said that Ms. Bass had asked Ms. Harris to swear her in, and the vice president obliged.“The vice president is invested in her success and knows what she’s up against,” Ms. Allen said, “and will do what she needs to do to make sure she’s successful.”At the ceremony, Tamaqua Jackson, wrapped in a beret and a scarf, said she believed in Ms. Bass’s ability to tackle homelessness and also help heal a splintered city.“She seems like she can bring Los Angeles together as one,” Ms. Jackson said, adding that she would like to see Ms. Bass “clean up” the City Council, which has been besieged by controversy in recent months.Ms. Jackson, 48, has lived in Los Angeles all her life, but this was her first mayoral inauguration, she said. She said the vice president’s appearance added to the appeal of attending in person.“That’s another high for me: To actually see two people I’ve voted for in person is awesome,” said Ms. Jackson, who works as a commercial driver. “Go women!”Soumya Karlamangla More

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    A Times Square Hotel Was Set To Become Affordable Housing. Then the Union Stepped In.

    At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Paramount Hotel, sitting empty in Times Square, was on the verge of turning into a residential building, offering a rare opportunity to create affordable housing in Midtown Manhattan.A nonprofit was planning to convert the hotel into apartments for people facing homelessness. But after 18 months of negotiations, the plan collapsed this year when a powerful political player intervened: the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, the union representing about 35,000 hotel and casino workers in New York and New Jersey.The union blocked the conversion, which threatened the jobs of the workers waiting to return to the 597-room hotel. Under the union’s contract, the deal could not proceed without its consent.The Paramount reopened as a hotel this fall, an illustration of how the union has wielded its outsized political power to steer economic development projects at a critical juncture in New York City’s recovery.The pandemic presented a devastating crisis for the city’s hotel workers, more than 90 percent of whom were laid off. But as the union has fought harder to protect them, its political muscle has also drawn the ire of hotel operators and housing advocates, who say the group’s interests can be at odds with broader economic goals.After the conversion failed, the Paramount reopened this fall, saving about 160 hotel jobs.Ahmed Gaber for The New York TimesThe union’s impact ripples throughout New York. It can block or facilitate the conversion of large hotels into housing and homeless shelters, a consequential role in a year when homelessness in the city reached a record high of about 64,000 people. The union pushed for the accelerated expansion of casinos, which could transform the neighborhoods of the winning bids. And it was a driving force behind a new hotel regulation that some officials warned could cost the city billions in tax revenue.The union’s influence stems from its loyal membership and its deep pockets, both of which it puts to strategic use in local elections. Its political strength has resulted in more leverage over hotel owners, leading to stronger contracts and higher wages for workers.In this year’s New York governor’s race, the union was the first major labor group to endorse Gov. Kathy Hochul, whose winning campaign received about $440,000 from groups tied to the union. The group was also an early backer of Eric Adams, whose mayoral campaign was managed by the union’s former political director.“H.T.C. is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers,” said Chris Coffey, a Democratic political strategist, referring to the union’s more common name, the Hotel Trades Council. “They’re just operating on a higher playing field.”Origins of the union’s powerHistorically, the Hotel Trades Council avoided politics until its former president, Peter Ward, started a political operation around 2008.Mr. Ward and the union’s first political director, Neal Kwatra, built a database with information about where members lived and worshiped and the languages they spoke. This allowed the union to quickly deploy Spanish speakers, for instance, to canvass in Latino neighborhoods during campaigns.Candidates noticed when the Hotel Trades Council, a relatively small union, would send 100 members to a campaign event while larger unions would send only a handful, Mr. Kwatra said.The Aftermath of New York’s Midterms ElectionsWho’s at Fault?: As New York Democrats sought to spread blame for their dismal performance in the elections, a fair share was directed toward Mayor Eric Adams of New York City.Hochul’s New Challenges: Gov. Kathy Hochul managed to repel late momentum by Representative Lee Zeldin. Now she must govern over a fractured New York electorate.How Maloney Lost: Democrats won tough races across the country. But Sean Patrick Maloney, a party leader and a five-term congressman, lost his Hudson Valley seat. What happened?A Weak Link: If Democrats lose the House, they may have New York to blame. Republicans flipped four seats in the state, the most of any state in the country.To recruit members into political activism, the union hosted seminars explaining why success in local elections would lead to better job protections. Afterward, members voted to increase their dues to support the union’s political fights, building a robust fund for campaign contributions. Rich Maroko, the president of the Hotel Trades Council, said the union’s “first, second and third priority is our members.”Ahmed Gaber for The New York TimesThe Hotel Trades Council ranked among the top independent spenders in the election cycle of 2017, when all 26 City Council candidates endorsed by the union won. Some of these officials ended up on powerful land use and zoning committees, giving the union influence over important building decisions in New York.In a huge victory before the pandemic, the union fought the expansion of Airbnb in New York, successfully pressuring local officials to curb short-term rentals, which the union saw as a threat to hotel jobs.Mr. Ward stepped down in August 2020, making way for the union’s current president and longtime general counsel, Rich Maroko, who earned about $394,000 last year in total salary, according to federal filings.The union’s sway has continued to grow. Some hotel owners, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say they are fearful of crossing the union, which has a $22 million fund that can compensate workers during strikes. In an interview, Mr. Maroko pointed out that the hotel industry is particularly vulnerable to boycotts.“The customer has to walk through that picket line,” he said, “and then they have to try to get a good night’s rest while there are people chanting in front of the building.”The Hotel Trades Council’s contract is the strongest for hotel workers nationwide, labor experts say. In New York City, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour, housekeepers in the union earn about $37 an hour. Union members pay almost nothing for health care and can get up to 45 paid days off.During the pandemic, the union negotiated health care benefits for laid-off workers, suspended their union dues and offered $1,000 payments to the landlords of workers facing eviction.Along the way, the union has become known for its take-no-prisoners approach to politics, willing to ally with progressives or conservatives, with developers or nonprofits — as long as they support the union’s goals.“There may be no union which has more discrete asks of city government on behalf of its members,” said Mark Levine, the Manhattan borough president, who was endorsed by the union. “You can’t placate them with nice rhetoric. To be a partner with them, you really need to produce.”Political wins during the pandemicLast year, the union scored a victory it had sought for more than a decade, successfully lobbying city officials to require a special permit for any new hotel in New York City.The new regulation allows community members, including the union, to have a bigger say over which hotels get built. The move is expected to restrict the construction of new hotels, which are often nonunion and long viewed by the Hotel Trades Council as the biggest threat to its bargaining power.Budget officials warned that the regulation could cost the city billions in future tax revenue, and some developers and city planners criticized the rule as a political payback from Mayor Bill de Blasio in the waning months of his administration after the union endorsed his short-lived presidential campaign in 2019. Mr. de Blasio, who did not return a request for comment, has previously denied that the union influenced his position.In the next mayoral race, the union made a big early bet on Mr. Adams, spending more than $1 million from its super PAC to boost his campaign. Jason Ortiz, a consultant for the union, helped to manage a separate super PAC to support Mr. Adams that spent $6.9 million.Mr. Ortiz is now a lobbyist for the super PAC’s biggest contributor, Steven Cohen, the New York Mets owner who is expected to bid for a casino in Queens.The union, which shares many of the same lobbyists and consultants with gambling companies, will play an important role in the upcoming application process for casino licenses in the New York City area. State law requires that casinos enter “labor peace” agreements, effectively ensuring that new casino workers will be part of the union.A new threatDuring the pandemic, as tourism stalled, there was growing pressure to repurpose vacant hotels. With New York rents soaring, advocates pointed to hotel conversions as a relatively fast and inexpensive way to house low-income residents.But the union’s contract, which covers about 70 percent of hotels citywide, presented an obstacle. A hotel that is sold or repurposed must maintain the contract and keep its workers — or offer a severance package that often exceeds tens of millions of dollars, a steep cost that only for-profit developers can typically afford.A plan to convert a Best Western hotel in Chinatown into a homeless drop-in center was scuttled by city officials after the effort failed to win the union’s endorsement.Ahmed Gaber for The New York TimesEarlier this year, Housing Works, a social services nonprofit, planned to convert a vacant Best Western hotel in Chinatown into a homeless drop-in center. There was opposition from Chinatown residents, but city officials signed off on the deal. It was set to open in May.Right before then, however, the Hotel Trades Council learned of the plan and argued that it violated the union’s contract.Soon, the same city officials withdrew their support, said Charles King, the chief executive of Housing Works. He said they told him that Mr. Adams would not approve it without the union’s endorsement. Mr. King was stunned.“Clearly they have the mayor’s ear,” Mr. King said, “and he gave them the power to veto.”A spokesman for the mayor said the city “decided to re-evaluate this shelter capacity to an area with fewer services,” declining to comment on whether the union influenced the decision.The Chinatown hotel remains empty.An obstacle to affordable housingIn the spring of 2021, state legislators rallied behind a bill that would incentivize nonprofit groups to buy distressed hotels and convert them into affordable housing. They sought the Hotel Trades Council’s input early, recognizing that the group had the clout to push then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to oppose the bill, according to people involved in the discussions.The union supported the conversions, but only if they targeted nonunion hotels outside Manhattan. Housing groups have said that, unlike large Midtown hotels, nonunion hotels are not ideal candidates for housing because they tend to be much smaller and inaccessible to public transit.As a compromise to gain the union’s support, the bill allowed the Hotel Trades Council to veto any conversions of union hotels.“While we certainly support the vision of finding shelters and supportive housing for the people that need it,” Mr. Maroko said, “our first, second and third priority is our members.”One housing advocate involved in the legislation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she warned elected officials that the veto provision would diminish the law’s effectiveness.The law, which passed last year, came with $200 million for conversions. Housing experts criticized the legislation for not sufficiently loosening zoning restrictions, prompting another law this spring that made conversions easier.Still, no hotels have been converted under the new law.Now, with tourism rebounding, housing nonprofits say the window of opportunity has largely passed.“It’s not like hotel owners are clamoring to sell the way they were two years ago,” said Paul Woody, vice president of real estate at Project Renewal, a homeless services nonprofit.How the Paramount deal endedIn the fall of 2020, the owners of the Paramount Hotel began discussing a plan to sell the property at a discount to Breaking Ground, a nonprofit developer that wanted to turn it into rent-stabilized apartments for people facing homelessness.But as the deal neared the finish line, Breaking Ground failed to anticipate pushback from the Hotel Trades Council. In a series of meetings last year, the union said its obligation was to fight for every hotel job and it proposed a range of solutions, including keeping union employees as housekeepers for residents. Breaking Ground, however, said the cost was too high.The nonprofit even asked Mr. Ward, the union’s former president, to help facilitate the conversion. Mr. Ward said he agreed to call Mr. Maroko to gauge his interest in Breaking Ground’s severance offer.This spring, lobbying records show, union representatives met with Jessica Katz, Mr. Adams’s chief housing officer, and other officials about the Paramount. Soon after, Ms. Katz called Breaking Ground and said city officials would not be able to make the conversion happen, according to a person familiar with the conversation. A spokesman for the mayor said the city “cannot choose between creating the housing the city needs and bringing back our tourism economy,” declining to comment on whether the union swayed the decision on the Paramount.The failed conversion saved about 160 hotel jobs, and the Paramount reopened to guests in September.It was a relief for workers like Sheena Jobe-Davis, who lost her job there in March 2020 as a front-desk attendant. She temporarily worked at a nonunion Manhattan hotel, making $20 less per hour than at the Paramount. She was ecstatic to get her old job back.“It is something I prayed and prayed for daily,” she said. More