Winners & Losers 8/4/17
Politics can feel like a game of musical chairs sometimes. Pat Foye and John Degnan are out at the Port Authority, and Rick Cotton and Kevin O’Toole are in. Foye jumped to the MTA, and Ronnie Hakim’s still there, too. In Washington, John Kelly took Reince Priebus’ spot and then booted “The Mooch.” Others – H.R. McMaster? Steve Bannon? Rick Perry? – may soon be on the move, too. Check out this week’s Winners & Losers to see who still has a seat – and who’s left standing.
Al D’Amato – The last time former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato made headlines, he had attempted (and failed) to start a rebellion against the crew on an airplane from Fort Lauderdale to JFK. This week, he received much better press for his 80th birthday bash. The party was attended by some recognizable names from both sides of the political spectrum. Happy birthday, Senator Pothole!
Carmen Fariña – Nobody wants their kids to be in danger when they’re in school, and this week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration rolled out new figures indicating that city schools are safer than they’ve ever been. That’s a nice bit of PR for Schools Chancellor Fariña, even if other statistics muddy the picture somewhat. As long as the Post reports it, the city can simply dismiss the critics by calling it fake news.
Eric Gonzalez – It’s not often that there’s a truly competitive race for district attorney in New York City, but that appears to be what’s happening in Brooklyn this year. As acting DA, Gonzalez has some built-in advantages – and he bolstered his candidacy this week with endorsements from four New York City members of Congress. And in a crowded race, every little bit of support helps.
Carl Heastie – As part of his grand tour of upstate New York, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie boldly went to Ticonderoga, where he visited a re-creation of the U.S.S. Enterprise's main bridge from Star Trek. A lifelong Trekkie, Heastie got to fulfill his childhood dream of sitting in Captain Kirk’s chair, a seat which he may enjoy even more than the Assembly speaker's chair.
Biggie Smalls – After several failed attempts to honor Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace in his hometown of Brooklyn, newly renovated basketball courts at Crispus Attucks Playground were officially renamed in his honor. The $2.5 million dollar renovation comes just in time for the annual basketball tournament held in the late rapper's name to raise money for youth programs in the surrounding neighborhoods. Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way!
Leticia Astacio – This Rochester City Court judge violated the conditions of her drunken driving conviction on the day she was released from jail and then proceeded to go ahead and violate it twice more – perhaps for good measure, since her lawyer warned she wouldn’t follow the rules. Astacio was required to abstain from alcohol, but registered a peak blood alcohol content of .127 percent. That’s one way to go out in style.
Steve McLaughlin – For a lawmaker who’s known to insult fellow elected officials on both sides of the aisle, perhaps an unfavorable court ruling this week was simply bad karma. McLaughlin, who’s running for Rensselaer County executive, failed – yet again – to get on the Independence Party line. If he’s making rookie errors at this level, just think what could have happened had the Republican opted to run for governor?
Rolfe Porter – One of the best things that the beleaguered city of Niagara Falls has going for it is its world-renowned waterfall. But last weekend that natural treasure was sullied by a dark and smelly discharge released into the Niagara River by the Niagara Falls Water Board. With the governor calling for an investigation and suggesting criminal activity, it’s no surprise that Porter, the board’s executive director, is laying low. Perhaps another shakeup is coming?
Anthony Scaramucci – The epic reign of “The Mooch” was more of a fiery footnote to the Trump administration. His tumultuous tenure as White House communications director did not even last a fortnight, but spurred the resignation of Sean Spicer, featured an an expletive-filled interview, the “slaying” of Mooch’s rival “brother” Abel/Reince Priebus and ended with his exile by the powers that be. Trump decided it was time for him to Mooch on out.
Kalman Yeger – A few weeks ago, it looked like Kalman Yeger was going to coast into the New York City Council – the result of either a long-planned conspiracy with outgoing City Councilman David Greenfield or an auspicious coincidence. But in a looming proxy war between Greenfield and Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Yeger will now have to fend off Yoni Hikind, the assemblyman’s son who just jumped into the race.