Winners & Losers 8/26/16
As the summer winds down, you can feel the pressure building. Autumn is right around the corner, and with it the onset of the election season and a rush of political maneuvering. So while you still can, take a cue from Mayor Bill de Blasio: Schedule some time off, kick back and help us decide who were the biggest Winners & Losers this week.
Bill de Blasio – Sure, he’s fond of cheesy dad-jokes, but the mayor is winning major cool-dad cred with his Bernista kids this week, getting a sit-down dinner with Bernie Sanders in Burlington. Some have questioned his seemingly frequent sojourns out of the city, including a certain governor, but why should de Blasio care?! Take Cuomo’s comments with a grain of salt, then rim your margarita with it. You’re on vacation!
Rich Funke – Funke’s Democratic rival, Steve Glickman, was off the ballot – then back on – now he’s off the ballot once more. It’s all been a little confusing (sort of like the sexuality of another well-known Funke). Ultimately, this is good news for state Sen. Funke, who is now running unopposed. Makes his life and career a whole lot easier.
Paul Katz – Katz and other Columbia University grad students made national news when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that teaching and research assistants at private institutions can unionize. Administrators said the move would undermine student-teacher relationships, but their case came across as a bit self-serving – and the NLRB didn’t buy it, either. Katz, something of a spokesperson for the movement, will now have to persuade his classmates to unionize, but this week was a major milestone for him and his peers.
Donovan Richards – Far Rockaway was battered and beaten when Superstorm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, and several years later the Queens neighborhood is still on the mend. The city’s official announcement of $91 million in funding for everything from business revitalization to community programs won’t fix everything, but it’s a big step in the right direction. And for Richards, the local councilman, it’s a nice investment in his re-election prospects.
Ed Riley – For the first time in 12 years, the Hotel Syracuse, a symbol of the city’s decline, reopened last Friday. While other developers had failed to revive the downtown Syracuse gem, long a landmark in the city, Riley was able to leverage tax breaks and development momentum downtown to revive the long-beleaguered historical structure. The next time you are in the ’Cuse, check in and check it out.
Steve Banks – There are no quick fixes to defeating homelessness in NYC, but the Human Resources Administration chief sure seems to be moving slowly. Complaints by shelter residents to 311have jumped 50 percent this year, with tough tales of non-responsiveness. And despite a promise by the mayor to stop housing the homeless in hotels, that practice hasincreased by 50 percent this summer as well.
Byron Brown – As more and more children test positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood, Buffalo’s testing of its water supply has been conducted disproportionately in more affluent neighborhoods with fewer minorities, despite reported cases of lead in the blood being concentrated in lower income, minority neighborhoods. While Brown denies anything is wrong with the city’s testing policies, it’s not a good look for his administration.
Jeffrey Immelt – For a few decades now, General Election has been required by the EPA to pay for a massive cleanup of the Hudson River after regularly dumping PCBs into the river. GE has spent more than$1 billion to mitigate the pollution and its dredging project officially winded down last year. But the state Department of Environmental Conservation is now saying it’s not enough and the company needs to do more to right their wrong. That seems to make sense, as officials say it’ll be decades until fish from the river are safe to eat.
Martin Nussbaum & David Schwartz – The principals of Slate Property Group may have pulled a fast one on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio when they got City Hall to lift a deed restriction on 45 Rivington St. and made a tidy profit, but the shady deal looks to have cost them an even bigger property deal. Slate is pulling out of the Bedford Union Armory redevelopment under pressure from City Hall and local activists who thought the developers’ actions at Rivington showed they couldn’t be trusted. So while Slate may be gaining 100 condos at Rivington, they’re losing out on 300 at the Armory.
Ken Thompson – If you’re job is to prosecute lawbreakers, you probably shouldn’t be breaking simple, easy-to-follow laws yourself. Thompson spent nearly $2,000 reimbursing his security detail for the small convenience of having them pick up his lunch and dinners. Thompson was ordered to pay $15,000, among the largest fines in a decade and the first against a district attorney in the history of the Conflicts of Interest Board.