Winners & Losers 11/20/15
Next week, lawmakers and politicos can be thankful that they will not be on the losers list. Our staff is taking the week off to enjoy Thanksgiving, but this week we are dishing out some piping hot critiques. Winners and Losers are served.
Anthony Albanese – The acting superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services is on his way out, but his job’s not over yet. This week he announced a settlement with Barclays, which will cough up $150 million as a penalty for its computer-driven shenanigans that allowed the bank to manipulate foreign exchange trades. Add to that a crackdown on a scheming mortgage banker and the recruitment of several insurers to pick up customers left abandoned by the closure of Health Republic, and the governor may want Albanese to stay on.
Preet Bharara – Only in Albany would the high-profile trials of New York’s two legislative leaders fail to spur any change. This week, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he did not plan for any new ethics reform to be taken up in the 2016 legislative session. “Business as usual” should ensure plenty of future targets for the crusading U.S. Attorney who continues to bolster his reputation as he collects scalps.
Michael Bloomberg - A comedian one week, a schoolmaster the next. Bloomberg’s legacy got a boost this week from NYU, whose new report suggests the former mayor's policy of closing failing schools (which the current mayor rejected) actually improved students’ academic outcomes. The mayor has a lot of supporters defending his time in office, but it's always better when independent sources make the case for you.
Walter E. Carver - This Brooklyn Vietnam vet probably thought it was his lucky day when he won $10,000 in a scratch-off lottery game. Instead, the state seized half his money because he had been on welfare. Carver balked, saying he deserved it all after cleaning Staten Island ferries under the Work Experience Program. His real payday finally came this week, eight years later, when the Court of Appeals ruled in his favor. Let’s hope he invested wisely.
Hector Figueroa - By threatening to resign from a task force convened to tackle worker exploitation, the 32BJ SEIU president prodded the governor into placing airport workers under the panel's purview. Figueroa also managed to direct attention to the cabin and airport cleaning industry ahead of a strike at metro airports this week.
Michele Adolphe - We almost feel bad for Adolphe, who was arrested and charged with failing to file campaign financial-disclosure statements, a relatively common occurrence which rarely led to criminal charges before the position of chief enforcement counsel of the Board of Elections was created last year. But in the end, rules are rules, and the arrest, combined with a loss in the Democratic state Assembly primary last year, make a political future for Adolphe unlikely.
MaryEllen Elia – The State Education commissioner’s first draft at recommendations to reform Common Core got low marks from the Cuomo administration this week, as they called the preliminary plan more of the “status quo.” The critique was not shocking, but the harsh rebuttal definitely puts pressure on the new commissioner as she gears up for the inevitably tough fight with Albany lawmakers expected in 2016.
Bruce Karam – The Utica City School District this week was sued by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who alleges that since 2007 the district diverted refugee students over the age of 16 from its high school and into alternative programs where they could not earn credits toward a diploma. Karam, the district’s superintendent, denied the claims, but still had to bear the bad headlines as the topic of handling refugee populations has been thrust into the forum of public debate in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Richard Kauffman – Getting the state’s innovative Green Bank up and running was always going to take some time, but now there aresome indications that it still hasn’t generated a lot of interest from the private sector. Kauffman, New York’s top energy official, may yet be able to gain more traction with his $1 billion pet project, and the state says money should be flowing soon. But if things don’t pick up, the former banker may have to cut his losses and move on to the next project.
Adam Skelos – We don’t know if he has committed any crimes, but the son of embattled lawmaker Dean Skelos is unquestionably guilty of being whiny and entitled. Those characteristics were fleshed out in greater detail this week during the high-profile trial of Skelos and his father, the former state Senate majority leader. The younger Skelos struggled in a no-show job. Hehowled in anguish when the governor banned hydrofracking. And heck, evenhis own lawyer described him as “immature,” “emotional” and “nasty.”