Winners & Losers 3/3/17
We may one day look back on last Friday’s meeting between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and federal prosecutors as the beginning of the end for an indicted, one-term mayor. Or, we could look back on it as the day he cleared his name en route to a resounding re-election victory, predicted by the two positive polls that came out days later. Only time will tell which side he’ll end up on – but we’re much more confident about the rest of this week’s Winners & Losers.
Michael Blake and Grace Meng – The Bronx assemblyman and the Queens congresswoman didn’t get the backing of de Blasio in their respective bids to get elected as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. But given de Blasio’s record – with the state Senate Democrats, Hillary Clinton and now Keith Ellison – an endorsement from the mayor may actually hurt more than it helps. Whatever the case, both Blake and Meng won, rounding out a nice string of DNC victories for New York natives.
Todd Kaminsky – Albany insiders know that trying to score local funding in the state budget process is usually a long, complicated process that often fails to work out – just ask Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. But state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, scored $130 million in funding for the local Nassau Expressway, the governor just announced. Drive safe!
Tom Perez – The Buffalo native nudged his opponent out of the Democratic National Committee chairmanship, and even managed to make himself look magnanimous after a hard-fought campaign. Perez was initially a single vote short of winning, and secured his win by a larger margin in a second voting round. He then elevated his competitor, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, to deputy chairman.
Wilbur Ross – The New York billionaire was easily confirmed as U.S. commerce secretary this week, showing once again that an ability to adapt one’s policy views is key to advancing in government. Ross, who will sell off many of his assets to avoid conflicts of interest, is known in New York political circles for his tumultuous relationship with the former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey. It would have been pretty awkward had she been brought on in Trump’s administration, too.
Keith Wright – Wooing Wright is now the top priority for Harlemites looking to fill a newly vacated state Senate seat. The governor called for a May 23 special election, which gives Wright’s Manhattan Democratic Party the power to hand-pick the party’s nominee – who will likely coast to victory. The stakes are particularly high, given the divided balance of power in the chamber.
Fred Dixon – Every bubble has to pop eventually – especially when Trump is poking at it with a pin. Dixon, the CEO of the city’s NYC & Company tourism arm, is predicting the first annual drop in foreign tourists since the recession – and blaming it on the new president’s rhetoric and short-lived but highly controversial travel ban. Dixon’s fighting back with a “Welcoming the World” ad campaign, but summer trips to Toronto may already be booked.
Patrick Foye – Not that it’s a big surprise, but New York City’s LaGuardia Airport is plagued with the most flight delays in the country, according to a new report. Foye’s Port Authority, which operates LGA as well as the similarly low-performing JFK Airport, is at least upgrading the terminals, even if it can’t actually add much-needed runway space. And just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, lightning struck a LaGuardia runway and caused even more delays.
Gregory Meeks – Only time will tell whether a handful of congressional staffers did anything wrong, but a criminal investigation into the potential theft of equipment and data is proving to be an embarrassment for U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks. Meeks finally let one staffer go, but he waited weeks after the allegations came to light – and claimed he only cut ties due to the disruption caused by the probe.
Ricardo Morales – We’re supposed to believe that firing the man who lifted the Rivington House deed restriction the same day that de Blasio met with federal prosecutors was a coincidence? Former DCAS deputy commish Morales didn’t buy it, and his lawyer said he was being scapegoated. The mayor’s spokesman then suggested the DCAS bosses who let Morales go just didn’t know that de Blasio was being questioned the same day … as if you could miss the GRILLIN' BILL cover on the subway.
Kurt Thompson – Health insurance is a touchy subject right now, but there’s little excuse for not providing coverage when you should. Thompson’s Oxford Health had to provide refunds to patients and pay $1 million for insurance law violations because it listed providers that they don’t actually cover and did not respond to customer complaints afterward. Now that’s just sickening!