Winners & Losers 2/3/17
In this new, unpredictable era of President Donald Trump, Democrats are trying to unite in opposition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are hugging it out. Several potential de Blasio primary rivals are staying on the sidelines. And Democrats in the state Senate are, um … oh, right, they’re still squabbling among themselves. So it’s kind of like old times, right? And as always, we have our bipartisan list of Winners & Losers.
David Buchwald – As those familiar with New York state politics know, arrests and convictions of politicians happen … occasionally, to say the least. But after four years, Buchwald’s seemingly no-brainer efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to strip pensions from corrupt public officials finally will advance from the state Legislature. Maybe this will make the next politician thinking of breaking the law pause for just a moment.
Veronique Hakim – Hakim is one step closer to make history as the first woman to be permanently appointed as leader of the MTA, with Cuomo tapping the former executive director of New Jersey Transit as the interim executive director of the New York authority. And there’s a lot of reason to like her chances – many people inside the agency and around it believe she has the inside track among Cuomo and his advisers.
Patrick Lynch – Union bosses, take note. After months of protesting outside de Blasio's gym and accusing him of having workers’ blood on his hands, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president hashed out an agreement that gives his members a raise that is 2.25 percent higher than what other uniformed workers received. Cops will have to wear body cameras and engage in neighborhood policing, but other municipal employees would love to chat with folks on the corner while wearing a recording device if it meant extra cash.
Eric Schneiderman – The attorney general has found a convenient foil in Trump, joining with other attorneys general in a lawsuit against new restrictions on immigration from countries with Muslim-majority populations. Schneiderman also reached a $2.75 million settlement with DeVry University over false advertising, announced he is going after everyone’s least favorite internet service provider, Spectrum, formerly Time Warner Cable, over false internet speeds, and authorized a probe into Rensselaer County’s district attorney. Schneiderman can say he’s making a lot of New Yorkers very happy.
Staten Island Chuck – It’s all great news for New Yorkers and the Big Apple’s most famous groundhog. De Blasio wasn’t there to drop Chuck from titanic heights (which some conspiracy theorists say led to the previous Chuck’s death), and the rodent decided to bless the city for this kindness by seeing his shadow and promising an early start to spring this year. Please, whatever you do, de Blasio, please don’t ever go back to Staten Island for Groundhog Day, for all of our sakes.
Rudy Giuliani – When the acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce Trump’s order barring refugees and immigrants from several Muslim nations, her decision was based on evidence that the president essentially wanted to ban immigrants based on religion. So when Giuliani, a Trump ally who professed to helping craft the plan, said that it was indeed intended to be a “Muslim ban,” it wasn’t going to help the administration’s case. Then again, Trump’s memory about the whole thing – including who was involved or not – might not be that reliable.
Tom Rutledge – A fair amount of Spectrum's customers are giddy at the news that Schneiderman is suing its parent company, Rutledge's Charter Communications, over its alleged failure to deliver on promised internet speeds and reliability. The outcome remains to be seen, but hopefully will lead to less frustrating customer service calls that make customers want to bang their head against the wall.
Michele Titus – Caucus Weekend in Albany is known for music, dancing, speeches and … charity? Might be time for Assemblywoman Titus’ Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators to stop touting its supposed goal of raising scholarship money if only 6.3 percent of its revenue goes to scholarships. Thanks to a Times Union report, we know where the bulk of the money is being spent: party expenses like limos, concerts and speakers.
David & Jed Walentas – A new lawsuit makes the leaders of Two Trees look like the embodiment of every greedy landlord stereotype. Court papers allege the Walentas' filed false paperwork to secure $92 million in New York City tax breaks and subsidies while jacking up rents, driving out low-income tenants and illegally pocketing $10 million in rent. Regardless of what happens in court, the bad publicity might complicate the Walentas’ advantageous relationship with de Blasio.
Anthony Weiner – Any headline with your name and “child pornography” is bad news, especially when it starts with “Prosecutors weigh child-pornography charges.” Yes, the former congressman and mayoral candidate sunk even lower this week when news leaked that he could face such charges for allegedly exchanging sexually explicit messages and photos with a 15-year-old girl. Ever thirsty for attention, Weiner’s “incognito” get-up included an orange, plaid hat.