Winners & Losers 4/21/17
Earth Day is Saturday, and it’s a great reminder to appreciate the natural beauty of our city and state, from the Thousand Islands to Rockaway Beach. The people in the state? That’s a bit more of a divisive topic. As usual, we’re here to help you decide who deserves a beachfront vacation and who needs to take a hike.
Andrew Cuomo – Critics of the governor had a good laugh when his autobiography ultimately did not do quite as well as he would have wanted. However, the governor is having the last laugh. His recently released tax returns showed he made $783,000 from HarperCollins for selling only 3,200 copies, earning $245 per book despite an initial list price of $29.99. The math doesn’t add up – and neither Cuomo nor the publisher are in a rush to explain the discrepancy.
Melissa DeRosa – At 34, DeRosa has become the youngest person and the first woman to serve as secretary to the governor. Despite the historic promotion, her appointment to the influential post has drawn scrutiny, particularly because her father and brother work as lobbyists and her husband is an executive at Uber, which just got upstate ride-hailing approved in the state budget. And her promotion has even launched a partisan war in the press.
Kevin Ellis – All it takes to bring our politically divided country together is an upstate milk manufacturer under threat from our neighbors to the north. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer joined Ellis at his Cayuga Milk Ingredients headquarters last spring to challenge Canadian plans to restrict certain milk imports. Now, Cuomo is joining forces with GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and President Donald Trump has found something he and Schumer can agree on. Even if Canada doesn’t back down, Ellis always has Cuba.
Corey Johnson – Anti-smoking advocates criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York for not furthering the famous anti-smoking efforts of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But inspiration finally struck de Blasio just ahead of 4/20, with a big push backing City Council Health Committee Chairman Johnson’s anti-smoking bills like raising the minimum price on a pack of cigs and more. Honest about his own struggles to quit, Johnson’s getting executive help.
Eric Schneiderman – Cuomo’s book deal is nice, but can it beat $2,368 for 10 seconds of “Blue Bloods” screen time? At $852,480/hour, that’s Seinfeld money – and the AG’s apparently a big fan of the sitcom. But Schneiderman isn’t just hustling for his own bank account – his health care hotline saved New Yorkers $3 million, and he awarded a whistleblower $8.8 million for squealing on his tax dodging company.
Greg Ball – The former state senator left New York a few years ago, but he’s back in the local news for a shocking allegation that he tried to force a woman to perform oral sex. Ball denied it, and no charges were brought, but it’s not the first time he’s been accused of such misbehavior. More broadly, the alleged incident makes us wonder: Are state lawmakers more likely to face corruption charges or accusations of sexual harassment?
Bill de Blasio – De Blasio’s week was an exhibit in disappointment. He broke a pledge to detail a “stunning number” of political donors who did not get what they wanted from City Hall in favor of listing a few “powerful” examples in an op-ed. De Blasio’s team also admitted a planned streetcar may not magically finance itself; saw some wait times grow at NYCHA despite a renewed focus on repairs; and got blasted by The New York Times for the mayor's "petulant" whining.
Charlie King – New York politics is not always the most dignified space, but this is a new low. Responding to criticism from state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox on Melissa DeRosa’s recent promotion from chief of staff to secretary to the governor, the former state Democratic Committee executive director called Cox a “Cox sucker.” He maintains it wasn’t a gay slur, but his explanation seems a little weak.
G. Steven Pigeon, Kristy Mazurek & David Pfaff – Pigeon was once one of New York’s top-flight political operatives, with ties to the Clintons, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other friends in high places. But his downward spiral continued this week when he was charged with funding local races in violation of state election law. He and his old associates, Mazurek and Pfaff, pleaded not guilty – but it’s no stretch to say that in New York politics in general, where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.
Debbie Preston – Executive posts come with all kinds of perks in New York, but they typically don’t come with credit card privileges. And former town of Conklin Supervisor and Broome County Executive Debbie Preston was told this when she was allegedly caught using a credit card she unlawfully obtained in her name and in the name of Conklin. She nonetheless continued to use the card for personal expenses, prosecutors say, and was arrested this week and charged with official misconduct.