Winners and Losers 02/06/15
I think we can safely say the dust has settled following the ground-shaking leadership change in the Assembly. At least for now. While clearly new Speaker Carl Heastie landed on our list, he was not alone. Here's this week's Winners and Losers.
Carl Heastie - Well, it’s official. Heastie has become the state’s newest Assembly speaker after Sheldon Silver resigned on Monday. Heastie not only won the speaker election, but eliminated his opponents swiftly and effectively—partly because he had some help. We’re not sure if it was the quickest speaker campaign in history, but Heastie did make history by becoming the first black Assembly speaker in New York … and during black history month!
Vito Lopez – Paying tens of thousands of dollars to settle sexual harassment allegations is not typically evidence of a good week, but for the former Brooklyn assemblyman it wasn’t so bad, on balance. Two of Lopez’s accusers were awarded $580,000 in the settlement, bringing an end to one of the more sordid scandals to come to light in Albany in recent years. But Lopez only has to pay $35K, while taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab. He may be losing in life, but this week he dodged a half a million dollar bullet.
Eric Schneiderman – It may take the power, resources and political independence of the federal government to root out public corruption in New York, but when it comes to fraud in the herbal supplement industry, New York is taking the lead. The state attorney general’s office this week revealed that products advertised as gingko biloba, ginseng and Echinacea often had no trace of the actual herbs—and the mislabeling was not at fringe health shops but at major chains like Walmart, Target and GNC. Plus, Schneiderman compelled a manufacturer to lower the price of a heroin antidote—a remedy that actually works advertised.
Staten Island Chuck - Not only did the famous groundhog not die from a fall this year, but he predicted an early spring as well—two moves that are bound to make him popular with both the mayor and the general public. Thanks for the optimistic vibes, Chuck—one more winter like last year’s and we’d all have been killing each other.
Stanley Schlein – The attorney and political insider has been a power broker in the Bronx for decades now. But this week the controversial figure painted his Mona Lisa when he landed close ally Carl Heastie as the new Speaker of the Assembly. As City & State columnist Michael Benjamin put it... Schlein has been the only constant thing in Bronx politics for the past 35 years. At 67, it doesn't look like he is going anywhere.
Joseph Giulietti – Giulietti took over as president of the Metro-North just weeks after the 2013 derailment that killed four people. He quickly pledged to learn from the tragedy and move forward—a tough task for anyone following such a horrific event. Now he is dealing with an even worse tragedy. While it appears to be an unavoidable accident, it's little comfort to the man who has to lead the scarred employees of the railroad.
Carlos Menchaca – The Brooklyn Democrat found himself on the wrong end of a coup Thursday, and is now out as co-chair of the City Council’s Brooklyn delegation. Rumor has it that Menchaca’s ouster had something to do with his decision to quash a plan for the city’s economic development corporation to take control of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal—a move that reportedly infuriated Mayor de Blasio. Maybe some council members worried that Menchaca just wasn’t the guy to negotiate with the mayor’s office in the upcoming budget negotiations, but whatever the reasoning, Councilman Mark Treyger is now in as co-chair, and Menchaca—and the Progressive Caucus with which he is affiliated—are out.
William Scarborough - Clearly Heastie and the Queens assemblyman are not BFFs. Scarborough was the only assemblyman not to retain his committee chairmanship. Although, he might have bigger problems on the horizon.
Malcom Smith – The disgraced Queens pol faces up to 45 years in prison after a jury convicted him of attempting to bribe his way onto the GOP line in the 2013 mayoral elections. In the trial it was revealed that Smith was recorded saying those he believed he was bribing should announce, “He’s better than sliced bread.” Wonder if he can get some of that sliced bread in prison.
Ruben Wills – Prosecutors claim they have a second case in the Louis Vuitton bag. The southeast Queens City Councilman was charged with five counts of failing to disclose his financial dealings on disclosure reports. His arrest comes nine months after he was charged with using government money to buy a $750 designer bag and other personal items. Wills may not have great judgement but he does have good taste.