Winners & Losers 10/16/15
A former New York senator, a Brooklyn native, a viable VP candidate and two little-known Republicans-turned-Democrats – who wins? We’re leaving that question to the national pundits, but as always, we do have your city and state Winners & Losers.
Vicki Been – While toiling away on the de Blasio administration’s ambitious affordable housing program, the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation has also been building up a diverse roster of developers and contractors. Under Been’s leadership, HPD became the lone New York City agency to earn an “A” grade on the city comptroller’s latest annual review of agencies’ contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses.
Robert Capers - The office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York sometimes is overshadowed by its more glitzy counterpart in the state’s Southern District, but let’s not forget that Brooklyn (not Manhattan) is where U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch quietly built up her strong résumé. Plus, who actually put William Boyland Jr. behind bars? Assuming Capers’ nomination is confirmed, the prosecutor will have plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself, as well.
Jeff Gural - It looks like Gural’s temper tantrum has paid off. After his Tioga Downs racino was passed over in an initial round of bidding for a full-fledged commercial casino in New York, Gural was livid. Not long after, the governor suggested the independent siting board take another look, and lo and behold, this week Tioga Downs was recommended for the fourth and final license in upstate New York. Cha-ching!
Tom Prendergast - Ask and ye shall receive may be the lesson Prendergast takes home (by subway, of course) from the MTA funding saga. He pushed City Hall to triple its expected contribution to the capital plan, and got almost all of it — with an assist from a crumbling retaining wall that stranded G train riders for a night and made additional funding a political necessity. We can only hope this will make winners of all MTA riders in the future.
Roberto Ramirez and Patrick Jenkins – As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. And Ramirez and Jenkins happen to know one of the most powerful people in state government. Since Carl Heastie became speaker of the Assembly, the pair of lobbyists and their firms have seen their client lists grow significantly. It kind of makes us curious which firms are on the losing end of the equation since Shelly left office.
Chris Kay - NYRA still can’t seem to get it together. The New York Racing Association got called out by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for allegedly failing to properly flesh out its capital plans and no cohesive vision for the future. The kicker, of course, is that we’ve all heard this before: NYRA’s management was supposed to be under a concerted reorganization effort after the organization filed for bankruptcy in 2006 – and a 2007 audit found very similar conditions to the ones listed above. Looks like Kay, the president and CEO of NYRA since the state seized control of the staggering organization in 2013, will have some explaining to do.
Yvonne Lewis - Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Yvonne Lewis’ had been under investigation by the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct for a potential conflict of interest, and this week the news came that she would simply resign. Of course, we’re guessing the party organization will find some way to take care of her. Then again, maybe she was just planning to retire all along. Not that anyone would ever question the probity of a Brooklyn judge, of course.
Bruce Menin – Mr. Menin is probably going to be in the doghouse for quite a while. The developer caused some trouble for his wife, New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin, when his real estate company was accused of improperly forcing tenants out of a building the company is trying to convert into condos and settled with the attorney general’s office for $1.7 million. That’s not a good look for the woman charged with protecting Big Apple residents from scam artists.
Wendell Walters – The ex-assistant commish of the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development learned there are limits to what friends are for. In an apparent attempt to avoid serving time in prison, Walters cooperated with the feds and testified against three pals, but still wound up with a three-year sentence. Walters, who pleaded guilty in 2012 and admitted to accepting cash and vacations in exchange for awarding city housing contracts, apologized to HPD for the way his actions reflected on its work.
George Zoley - It hasn’t been a good year for the prison system in New York, and the problems aren’t solely being blamed on the public sector. This week, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli placed GEO Group, a private corrections company, on the restricted list for active management and directing all actively managed shares from the company be sold by the end of the year. The news could’ve made comedian and activist Randy Credico a winner this week, but he’ll have to find another reason to dress up in prison garb.