Winners & Losers 3/31/17
Some weeks, a politician is both a winner AND a loser. Take New York City's Bill de Blasio. The mayor won political points when a state court ruled in favor of a rent freeze he had championed. But he took a hit when the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board restricted his fundraising scheme to pay his legal bills. To see who was a winner OR a loser, read on.
Andrew Cuomo – While we wait to see if the governor emerges the true winner of the state budget showdown, he already got some good news this week when a Quinnipiac University poll found that he has reached his highest approval ratings since 2014. On top of that, he avoided major Medicaid cuts – at least for now – and the state budget has given him a platform to talk about his new favorite topic: President Donald Trump.
Jason Helgerson – The state’s Medicaid director better relish the R&R afforded by the collapse of the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Had the legislation passed, the state would have been responsible for some $2.3 billion in Medicaid costs now handled by the counties – and that would have been on top of another $4.5 billion in cuts. Still, Helgerson can’t get too comfortable. There’s already talk in Washington of revisiting health care reform.
Carolyn Maloney – She may have seen a little bit of herself in the "Fearless Girl." The New York City congresswoman led the charge to keep in place the temporary bronze statue facing down the famous Wall Street bull. The diminutive statue started drawing crowds of admirers after being placed on International Women’s Day, and while the firm that put her there isn’t faultless, the statue has taken on life as “symbolism of the resiliency of women.”
Jerry Neal – The co-chairman of Akoustis, a North Carolina tech firm, was positively giddy this week, thanks to its $2.75 million acquisition of a Canandaigua chip manufacturing facility from SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Investors were equally positive about the development, sending the company’s shares soaring and boosting its market capitalization – giving Neal in a good argument for a hefty pay raise or at least a nice bonus come holiday time.
Harvey Weisenberg – There were plenty of advocates behind the BFair2DirectCare campaign, which pushed for $45 million in the state budget to cover higher wages for staffers of nonprofits serving the developmentally disabled – and ended up with an agreement for $55 million in an early budget deal. Since we have to single out someone, we’re recognizing Weisenberg, a former state lawmaker whose son is disabled and joined forces with groups from all across the state to get the message across.
Bill Baroni & Bridget Kelly – Getting stuck in a traffic jam can feel like a total loss of freedom – so the two brains behind “Bridgegate” were just getting a taste of their own medicine by being sentenced to two years and 18 months, respectively, for their roles in the political payback scheme. And yet … the pair still probably have higher approval rating than their old bud Chris Christie.
Chris Collins & John Faso – You have to give it to these two New York Republicans: They were audacious enough to try to get President Donald Trump’s sweeping health care reform plan – ahem, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan – across the finish line. But the whole package bombed, and their proposal to shift county Medicaid costs to New York state only brought down the wrath of Cuomo.
Barry Diller – Sure, the billionaire media tycoon won’t be earning much sympathy, but his privately funded island park just off of 14th Street can’t catch a break. The latest: A federal judge ordered Pier 55 construction to be halted pending a review of its potential impact to wildlife – that’s animals, not wild Meatpacking District clubgoers. Adding to the intrigue, the lawsuit is likely being funded by fellow tycoon Douglas Durst.
Tara Lenich – A word of advice for the former Brooklyn assistant district attorney: All those love songs are about engaging in careless whispers, not encountering them – and most certainly not listening to them through illegal wiretaps. Lenich is expected to plead guilty to forging judges’ signatures so she could listen in on convos her love interest, a detective, had with a colleague, according to the Daily News.
Shola Olatoye – Add violent felons to the list of structurally unsound elements of Shola Olatoye’s NYCHA portfolio. The New York City Department of Investigation found that NYCHA often declines to evict the tenant of record in apartments where felons live, which results in many “permanently excluded” felons sneaking back into these tenants’ homes.