Winners & Losers 1/27/17
Welcome to the new world order, where “alternative facts” matter as much as actual facts and the rule of law can be overruled by the cult of personality. But at least one thing is consistent: Winners & Losers. The same as every other week, we’re here to highlight the biggest successes in New York politics and put the state’s biggest screwups in their rightful place.
Kirsten Gillibrand – Whispers of the junior senator’s name as a potential 2020 Democratic frontrunner became an open source of discussion this week as the Trump opposition commended the Albany native for being the only member of the U.S. Senate to vote against confirming the first three Trump Cabinet picks. Whether or not she follows her predecessor into the presidential race, it rarely hurts to have the hype. And if she does, she better give Rachel R. Gonzalez a job!
Jeffrey Grybowski – While climate change skeptics in President Donald Trump’s administration – including the president himself – are doubling down on dirtier energy sources and scaling back environmental protections, New York is charging full steam ahead in the opposite direction. Just this week, the Long Island Power Authority approved the largest offshore wind farm in the country, a multimillion-dollar project proposed by Grybowski’s Deepwater Wind. (No, not that Deepwater.)
Jeff Klein – After a bruising election, Democrats are still licking some serious wounds. In New York, the pain is even worse, though, as state Senate Democrats once again failed to gain control of the chamber. This week, they fell even further when state Sen. Jose Peralta left the mainline Democrats for Klein’s influential Independent Democratic Conference. As anyone in politics knows, power counts more than ideology, and right now Klein is gaining more and more of the power in Albany.
John McAvoy – After trying and failing quite a few times, state regulators finally approved the first rate hike for Con Edison in five years. That means millions more for the utility’s coffers and the chance for McAvoy to implement his plan to buy smart meters for New Yorkers' homes. And the best part is that the process took so long that the rate increase seemed to slip by with no public outcry.
Edwin Rodriguez – Look down! This upstate prisoner at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility was having a “Miserables” time being charged for smuggling and stealing state property. That property? A piece of baked chicken in our modern-day Jean Valjean’s pocket. We don’t know what charges got him sent up river in the first place, but he’s free on these new charges for now after he won a preliminary case against the state, in which it was found that he was denied due process rights.
Andrew Cuomo – The governor loves to tout his Start-Up NY program, bragging about the money and jobs the program brings to the state. But what once started out as a specialized program to create jobs and revenue has now magically become a “generic advertising effort” that cost the state “nothing.” Somehow, we think U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara would disagree. On top of that, Cuomo is getting boxed out of the liberal cred-boosting in New York as Gillibrand takes up more and more of the spotlight each day.
Bill Perkins – If a legal challenge proves true, the state senator's effort to get on a "Community First" ballot line in a bid for a vacant Harlem City Council race could leave him in last place. A lawsuit filed by an opponent’s ally alleges Perkins’ campaign prematurely collected signatures and then falsified dates to hide the transgression. Perkins’ campaign called the claims false, but no matter what he can't be happy about the unfavorable press.
Frank Max – The Democratic operative from Erie County – and a close ally of indicted former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon – accepted a guilty plea this week, admitting to state election law violations brought by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Max, Pigeon and others in their crew have long been accused by their adversaries of skirting the rules. Now it looks like the law is finally catching up with them.
James O’Neill – O'Neill's NYPD continues to deny the existence of summons quotas, but under a $75 million settlement proposal the department would have to reiterate that the tactic is prohibited. The high cost of the agreement suggests the lawsuit, which alleges that a quarter of summonses issued between 2007 and 2015 lacked legal justification, must have some serious heft. This comes just as O’Neill’s boss is getting his re-election run in order, and for a campaign that will likely emphasize improved police-community relations, this can’t be good.
Joel LaPierre – It appears Carl Paladino has an admirer. This upstate county legislator fired off quite the HOT TAKE on Trump’s presidency, writing on Facebook that he wanted to personally send former President Barack Obama and his family “on a one way trip to Kenya where you were born.” After being censured by the St. Lawrence County Legislature, the lawmaker issued an apology, calling the dustup a “learning experience.” Indeed, the incident shows that, no matter how small a role in government, your words matter, and may end up kissing your career goodbye in national, or even global, ridicule, if they are not chosen wisely.