Winners & Losers 3/24/17
Capitol-watchers in Washington, D.C., were shocked, appalled and confused that the American Health Care Act might be edited at the last minute behind closed doors, giving lawmakers little time to know what they’re actually voting on. New Yorkers just thought, “Sounds like Albany!” Take a minute to read this week’s Winners & Losers carefully, and remember: Your votes matter.
Yoav Gonen & Grace Rauh – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the big winner last week when prosecutors announced that he wouldn’t face charges following probes into his fundraising. But he’s not winning all of his legal battles. A case in point is a judge’s ruling in favor of the New York Post’s Yoav Gonen and NY1’s Grace Rauh, who sought emails between the administration and “agent of the city” Jonathan Rosen. The mayor seems to find NY1 more respectable, but it must be especially galling for him to lose a lawsuit to the “propagandistic” Post.
Andrew Hamilton – Speculation around where fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara would go next was so heated, we’re surprised ESPN didn’t run an hourlong special. In possibly the biggest cross-town snub since Jeremy Lin joined the Nets, Columbia Law alum Preet announced he’ll be joining New York University's School of Law as a “Distinguished Scholar in Residence,” getting NYU President Hamilton a marquee name in the Village and an easy pick for commencement speaker.
Jeff Klein – The indictment of Republican state Sen. Robert Ortt could be bad news for the Republican majority – but it might be good news for Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein. If Ortt resigns – voluntarily or not – it would further strain the tenuous hold Republicans have on the majority, making Klein and his conference even more important to their GOP allies. With the budget due in one week, Klein may win a few more concessions than he would have just a few days ago.
Laurence Laufer – The reputation of de Blasio’s election lawyer has been through a spin cycle: He steered a client uncomfortably close to legal charges, but ultimately ensured de Blasio and his allies avoided prosecution. This may turn off some clients. But Laufer doesn’t have to worry about any potential losses just yet, given that de Blasio said he will stick with Laufer this election cycle. Then again, de Blasio has deferred his legal bills and still needs to raise the funds to pay them.
Eric Schneiderman – The state attorney general was already back in the headlines where he likes to be, thanks to his high-profile legal tussles with the POTUS himself. Now, on the heels of Preet Bharara losing his badge, Schneiderman is bringing high-profile cases against state Sen. Robert Ortt and Ortt’s predecessor, George Maziarz. Maybe Schneiderman will be remembered one day as the sheriff of Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue AND Albany.
Angel Barbosa – The chief MTA chief procurement officer does not seem to be living up to his heavenly name – but then again, when does anything related to the MTA run as smoothly as advertised? The Post reported that Barbosa was fired as the authority investigates whether he sought favors from KPMG in exchange for getting the accounting firm lucrative contracts. Additionally, he may have had his girlfriend promoted to be his assistant.
Chris Collins & John Faso – These two New York reps are an odd couple: Collins, the Western New York businessman who got on the Trump bandwagon early, and Faso, the moderate with years of Albany experience who was elected to Congress in a Hudson Valley swing seat. Earlier this week, there was a chance that their bold “Buffalo buyoff” might have put the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill across the finish line. Instead, the legislation was delayed – and might be on life support.
Carmen Fariña – The New York City schools chancellor can’t win: Some families claim their schools were overly scrutinized and are unfairly slated to be shut down. And others contend her team is stalling an investigation into whether yeshivas provide sufficient secular education for fear of provoking the politically powerful Brooklyn Hasidic community. In both instances, Fariña claimed that DOE decisions are guided by what’s best for children.
Jason Helgerson – Being the state’s Medicaid director isn’t an easy job – but the current federal goings on over a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act brings this job to a whole new level of stress. A new amendment to the American Health Care Act would shift the cost to the program onto the state – a $2.3 billion burden. The effort has sparked anger from the governor’s office and a Twitter fight between them and the sponsors, the state’s own John Faso and Chris Collins.
George Maziarz & Robert Ortt – Some Albany lawmakers give off a vibe that makes you wonder if they're somehow gaming the system. But Maziarz and Ortt, Maziarz’s successor in the state Senate, came across, at least publicly, as nice guys with nothing to hide. An indictment against the two claims otherwise, with allegations of “no-show jobs and secret payments.” Of course, we at City & State had our suspicions about Maziarz since 2014, when we broke the news on his suspicious campaign expenditures.