Winners & Losers 2/24/17
In time when the White House is accused of cozying up to Russia, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leaning more towards North Korea, with his comms director reportedly demanding more positive press releases. Today: Solar power increases 800 percent over five years. Tomorrow: Cuomo hits five holes-in-one in a round of golf? We at City & State believe the best way to stand up to propaganda is aggressively sharing the truth – after all, democracy dies in darkness! On that note, here are this week’s Winners & Losers.
Bob Megna – Gov. Andrew Cuomo thrives on the perception that he has made Albany functional again, and with effective aides like Bob Megna, he’s sometimes able to actually improve how state government works. Megna, a former budget director and a holdover from former Gov. David Paterson's administration, was assigned to clean up the Thruway Authority in 2015, and now he will take over two troubled nonprofit development arms at SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Tom Reed – Many Republican politicians have dealt with the fallout of President Donald Trump’s administration at recent town hall meetings. U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican, tried to open a dialogue with protesters – which is noteworthy when his neighbor, Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, who also jumped on the Trump bandwagon early, refuses to have any town hall meetings. Being an elected official means confronting your opponents.
Linda Sarsour – The Brooklyn-based Muslim activist, no stranger to online harassment, started the week reporting threats of a man hoping to find her and “spit in her face.” Instead of hiding, her next move to was to lead a crowdfunding effort to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri. She got great press, perfectly timed as she leaves her longtime position at the Arab American Association of New York for a more national role.
Eric Schneiderman – For those who follow New York politics, the rivalry between the governor and the state attorney general is nothing new. But Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gained national exposure this week after confronting Trump’s immigration changes and the travel ban, which comes after an investigation into Trump University forced the president-elect to settle. It remains to be seen whether Cuomo and Schneiderman will battle it out in 2020, but Schneiderman is definitely in a better position now.
Basil Seggos – Standing up to a boss like Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t easy, so kudos to Seggos for publicly giving support to New York City’s efforts to limit plastic bags – as long as it’s a ban. A city-approved fee was ultimately killed by Cuomo, who insisted the matter had to be addressed statewide. Plastic bags were never a simple party line issue as Democrats balanced environmental concerns with economic ones, but the state’s environmental conservation commissioner proudly spoke up against the “scourge.”
David Borge – It looks like the Hoosick Falls mayor’s political future cannot be doing much more than swan-diving down the falls. Locals opposed his second attempt to negotiate a settlement with two companies that polluted the area’s drinking water. And then Judith Enck, who previously oversaw New York for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, suggested that the community wait for a new mayor, who would have a better chance at reaching an amenable agreement.
Lisa Coico – The former City College president was already a controversial figure on campus when federal investigators began digging into her potential misuse of funds. And although she stepped down this past fall, things may only be getting worse for her. This week, The New York Times reported that the probe into her finances has expanded, including questionable payments from an alumni fund.
Robert Scott Gaddy – Aggressiveness may be a hallmark of a strong lobbyists, but the Excelsior Advocates president allegedly threw one punch too many at a gathering during Caucus Weekend. Columnist Gloria Winston Al-Sarag accused Gaddy of slugging her in the jaw and threatening to kill her over an unflattering piece. Gaddy has denied the accusations. Still, some politicians are already distancing themselves from him.
Kamran Hakim – A judge tossed out his lawsuit to have his name removed from the city’s 100 worst landlords list, which is pretty bad PR for anyone as it only drew more attention to several hundred violations at his buildings. Hakim claimed he shouldn’t be on the list since two of his buildings are vacant, but a judge wasn’t convinced. His tenants probably aren't, either.
Amy Peterson – The director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery may need to build up solid procurement protection practices before expecting to steer Build it Back onto solid ground. This week, it was reported that the city did not initially stop contractors from using a firm that was sued by New Jersey officials for engaging in “unconscionable consumer practices.” To her credit, Peterson’s agency did move to halt work with the firm a day after DNAinfo inquired about the matter.