Winners and Losers 05/30/14
New York State's political winners and losers for the week of May 26, 2014.
While everyone’s been speculating about whom the Working Families Party will endorse for governor at this weekend’s convention, the infamous Albany Bear finally met its maker at the hands of the Department of Environmental Conservation and Rep. Michael Grimm’s prospects sunk to new lows. But Grimm’s loser-status being nearly perennial at this point, we didn’t even bother to include him on this week’s list. Here's who did make our ballot as nominees for Winners and Losers of the Week:
Dan Cantor - You know it’s a boring gubernatorial election when a third party endorsement provides the most political intrigue of the race thus far. Ahead of their convention this weekend, Cantor’s Working Families Party is the talk of the town, with Gov. Cuomo courting the WFP to help give him the sizable victory he desires, but party leadership reportedly leaning toward naming a challenger. This is a crucial moment for the WFP’s political viability at a moment when the party has never been stronger. Do they make a statement or fall in line with the status quo?
Betty Jean Grant - In 2012 Grant almost eked by Tim Kennedy without much cash or party support to become the 63rd District senator. This time around, it's still not clear just how much support (monetary or otherwise) she'll have as she tries to unseat the incumbent Kennedy, but things are looking up for Grant after she snagged the endorsement of the Erie County Democrats this week. The backing may actually be a bigger slap for Kennedy than it is a boost for Grant, though. He'll have the support of the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, but losing the support closer to the grassroots may cost him votes. There's also this question: With the locals supporting the Democratic primary challenger, might Jeff Klein follow suit in an effort to try to expand his Independent Democratic Conference into Western New York? That could make September's primary even more consequential and exciting to watch.
Andrew Lanza - The Superstorm Sandy recovery on the city level has largely been a debacle, so it was good to see some positive steps taken with Lanza’s Property Tax abatement bill for Sandy-impacted residents signed into law by the governor this week. A quirk in state property tax law left Sandy victims facing potentially higher tax bills if they repaired or renovated their home because of the storm, but Lanza’s bill provides a very necessary abatement. The only downside is the legislation is essentially a one-off for tax relief—applying only to this coming tax year.
Frank MacKay - Editorial board after editorial board urged Gov. Cuomo and the rest of the Democratic ticket to shun the state Independence Party in the 2014 elections. But MacKay laid low... and heading into the long Memorial Day weekend it was announced that the whole ticket accepted the party's backing, virtually ensuring the party another four years of viability. Even better for MacKay, the story emerging from the whole ordeal was about when Cuomo signed the paperwork and not about his actual decision to take the line.
Paul Thompson - The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and their chief, Paul Thompson, can breathe a collective sigh of relief this week, having ratified an agreement that brings them closer than they’ve ever been to ending a decades-old land dispute involving the state and St. Lawrence County. Under the agreement—the terms of which still need to be hammered out with neighboring Franklin County—the tribe gains the right to purchase their historic land from willing sellers and will receive millions of dollars from the state Power Authority over the next three decades, along with cheap power and free tuition to state universities for Mohawk members who qualify for admission. The Mohawks will also see a $4 million increase in annual casino revenue from the state. Money and education might not be miracle cures for centuries of ill treatment, but the stage has been set for new beginnings.
Albany Bear - When a small black bear was cornered in a tree in Albany this week, just about everyone wanted to keep him alive. State lawmakers, who happened to be celebrating Animal Advocacy Day, said the animal should be allowed to live. An animal rights group, NYCLASS, put out a statement urging a "non-lethal resolution." The bear itself, via the Twitter account @AlbanyBear2014, pleaded, "Don't let him kill me!" But in the end, for safety reasons, the Albany Bear was shot with tranquilizers, carried off and euthanized.
James Barker - Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It started from the Rockaways with a small ferry ship. Twenty-five passengers set sail that day, to study a new route to JFK (it's unclear if was supposed to be a three-hour tour), but the ship struck ground on an unchartered shoal, causing a headache for ferry operator Seastreak and its president, James Barker. Luckily, all the passengers were taken to safety and no one was hurt.
Dan Halloran - The indicted former Queens Council member appears to be trying to pull a Vincent “Chin” Gigante by reportedly trying to cop an insanity plea in his corruption case. Never mind that the basis for Halloran’s insanity plea is the surgery he had in 2012 to remove a benign brain tumor, a claim made flimsier by the fact that the plea request was filed at the same time as a six-month continuance application for his trial. However, we wonder if the prosecution would have been so quick to dismiss Halloran’s claims if they saw pictures like this one.
Don Peebles - What is it with Long Island College Hospital? First, the top bid, from Brooklyn Health Partners, fell through. Now the second-ranked bid, from Peebles, has also failed after the hospital's owner, SUNY, said that several parts of his proposal had "dramatically changed." Now it's up to a third bidder, Fortis Property Group, to try to seal the deal. Of course, the biggest loser in the end may be Mayor Bill de Blasio, who seems to have jumped the gun by announcing the latest bidding process as a "truly historic moment."
Larry Silverstein - Was Silverstein really "surprised" that he didn't get the government handout he wanted to complete the construction of 3 World Trade Center? When the Port Authority's board held off on a hefty $1.2 billion loan guarantee, citing the risk to the agency's finances and the potential for private investment, the real estate developer was oh-so-shocked that an agreement was not reached. Now perhaps the Port Authority can get back to dealing with, oh, you know, bridges and tunnels and airports and all that transportation stuff that makes up its core mission.