Winners & Losers 10/23/15
No one in New York can equal the performance of NCLS MVP and Mets’ wunderkind Daniel Murphy this week. But the fight for second place (and last place as well) will be tight, with advocacy leaders, on-trial politicians and an oddly named town mascot battling it out in this week’s Winners & Losers.
Anthony Albanese - Add another $787 million to the government coffers thanks to the latest action from the Department of Financial Services. Albanese seems to have picked up right where his predecessor Ben Lawsky left off, striking a settlement this week with Crédit Agricole for funneling money to countries subject to U.S. sanctions. The state gets $385 million of that pot, which will make Albanese a popular man among Albany lawmakers come budget time.
Seymour James - It only took three years and a little help from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, but The Legal Aid Society and two private firms - Ropes & Gray and Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady - formalized a settlement with New York City over inmate treatment at Rikers Island. A judge signed off on a deal calling for a federal monitor, restrictions on use of force by guards and installing surveillance cameras. Mary Lynne Werlwas, one of the Legal Aid attorneys who spearheaded the case, supervisor Jonathan Chasan and attorney-in-chief James all praised the city’s ongoing reform work at Rikers Island.
Karen Magee – It's been a rough road for the state teachers’ union in the past few years, but the union has been getting a better progress report from state officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for a review of the Common Core standards and, notably, both state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch this week walked back on the controversial teacher evaluation system. Looks like NYSUT, under Magee’s leadership, gets a passing grade.
Totes McGoats - Niagara Falls’ new goat man recycling mascot took the Internet by storm after being introduced recently, getting write-ups in Huffington Post and Time, while filling Twitter feeds across the state. And he got his creator, Niagara Falls Solid Waste Education and Encouragement Team director Brook D’Angelo, some good press as well. We’ll have to wait and see if the terrifying, cloven-hoofed biped can help the city actually raise its recycling rate - an abysmal 4 percent last year, though city officials claim it has gone up to 23 percent - but, as far as publicity stunts go, Totes is off the charts.
Eric Schneiderman - Preet’s not the only sheriff in town – the state’s AG burned Big Tobacco and left New Yorkers breathless with a $550 million settlement over funds withheld from a 17-year-old public health agreement. Add that to his delivery of a $1.2 million settlement over slow UPS packages and there’s a reason rumors of higher office keep being floated for Schneiderman.
Katherine McNally - Interim Healthcare Inc. of Nanuet recently posted an job ad looking for a registered nurse. The qualifications? Female, state-certified, “laid back” - and “no haitians” need apply. McNally, the president of the in-home nursing provider, apologized for the discriminatory advertisement, but that hasn’t stopped the state attorney general from launching an investigation, nor has it assuaged an outraged public.
Kate Murray - The Town of Hempstead supervisor and former assemblywoman has the advantage of much higher name recognition in the Nassau County district attorney contest, but she apparently doesn’t know a lot about being a prosecutor. In a recent interview with the Daily News editorial board, she didn’t have much of substance to say about police killings, setting bail, political corruption and other issues. The tabloid concluded that she was “utterly unprepared” – yet “perfect for the machine.” That's about as bad as it can get.
Sheldon Silver – Things are not going well in the proceedings leading up to the former Assembly speaker’s federal corruption trial. This week a judge rejected a request from Silver’s attorneys to exclude evidence they deemed irrelevant and prejudicial. And that evidence is pretty damning, with former associates claiming that there was a direct understanding that there would be adverse consequences to doing business with law firms where he was not employed. Once one of the most powerful men in Albany, Silver will get his day in court, but with this evidence admitted the job for his lawyers just got tougher.
Dean Skelos - It's early, but the trial does not seem to be going in the the Long Island pol’s favor. This week a judge denied a request by Skelos and his son, Adam, for a hearing on the allegation that the federal government “leaked grand jury information” to the press. It’s not over until it’s over (just ask Joe Bruno), but its also not looking good for the former state Senate majority leader.
Scott Stringer - The city comptroller has uncharacteristically avoided acting as the bearer of bad news about one aspect of the city’s governance - the pension fund he oversees. Like many municipalities, New York City’s retirement fund fell short of its anticipated 7 percent return rate this year. Stringer, however, delayed publicizing this fact and also stalled on releasing an estimate of how much in additional pension contributions the city will now have to kick in - receiving scorn from the press for the tactic.