Winners & Losers 12/22/17
With the passage of the Right to Know Act, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres was almost a winner this week, but it passed with such narrow majority and with so much opposition that it’s hard to rack that up as a real win. It passed, but at what cost? Not to worry though, plenty of others still made the cut this week with the GOP passing their federal tax cut and some big news happening in the New York City Council speaker race.
Chris Collins & Tom Reed – It took a while, but Republicans finally capitalized on their control of the White House and Congress with a major legislative win. The GOP’s sweeping tax legislation has as many opponents as supporters, but Rep. Chris Collins applauded the bill’s benefits for “working families” – not to mention his deep-pocketed donors – while Rep. Tom Reed called it a “transformational” tax cut helping hardworking Americans. They joined Reps. John Katko and Claudia Tenney in voting for the bill, and remain better positioned than many of their colleagues to win re-election next year.
Joe Crowley – King Crowley made his pick. Despite Rep. Joe Crowley himself downplaying his influence in the speaker’s race, his actions did nothing but confirm his role as the puppet master. As soon as word leaked out that Crowley was backing New York City Councilman Corey Johnson, the race was over, and most opponents conceded. If Crowley can keep it locked down till the Jan. 3 vote – and everyone expects he will – then his 2013 ratf**king will be forgotten.
Corey Johnson – Whispered of, with begrudging respect, as “the Frank Underwood of the speaker’s race,” Johnson played this race perfectly. Sure, the New York City Council speaker is decided by outside players, but Johnson worked harder than anybody to make his selection damn near inevitable. He wasn’t afraid to show ambition, running for at least two years, and freely giving time and money to get allies elected. Now hide your colleagues and cross your fingers till Jan. 3.
Jon Ledecky – It’s a good day when the sports team you own gets to play on it’s own turf again. Yes, the Islanders are coming home to Long Island where they belong after winning the competitive bid to redevelop Belmont Park. They beat out fellow New York sports team NYCFC, which will be forced continue to play soccer at Yankee Stadium. The Islanders moved to the Barclays Center in 2015, which, while geographically still technically part of the island, doesn’t actually count. Now, they’ll get a swanky new arena expected to open in 2020.
Jerry Nadler – The Manhattan Democrat was elected ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee this week with a decided victory over opponent Rep. Zoe Lofgren, bringing the number of New Yorkers in leadership roles in the House to seven. Ranking member is a plum post, but Nadler will be especially influential if Democrats win back the House in 2018 – and decide to bring impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Although Nadler has avoided the i-word, his promotion this week may be even more significant this time next year.
Sean Basinski – “We lost! (at least for now)” read an email from the Street Vendor Project executive director. We’re happy to accept self-nominations and Basinski made a strong case, after a bill to expand the number of street vendor permits died in the last days of the New York City Council session. The vendors were fired up, but couldn’t cook up a deal with the mayor and got left holding the (plastic) bag.
Bill de Blasio – Hizzoner left New York City to talk progressive values in Iowa. He told reporters he was still more than capable of governing New York City, even giving a demonstration of his ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. But in his time away, the new council speaker was all but decided and de Blasio was left out of the loop on the selection of Corey Johnson. Plus, even while he was still in the city, it was announced that several Renewal schools will be closed after his expensive initiative failed to provide results. Not exactly an A+.
Kristina Johnson & James Milliken – Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have had the state picking up college costs, which would have been a boon for these two chancellors, SUNY’s Johnson and CUNY’s Milliken. And with a budget shortfall expected next year, can they really blame the Guv? At the same time, SUNY’s enrollment numbers are still down.
Richard Luthmann – Well, that escalated quickly. This summer, this Staten Island lawyer made fake Facebook pages targeting his enemies. Last week, Luthmann was accused by federal prosecutors of unusual charges including kidnapping, trying to assassinate a Democratic official and extortion conspiracy. The eccentric hammer-wielder had his bail hearing postponed this week, meaning another week in jail.
Chuck Schumer – He may be the most powerful Democrat in Washington, but that distinction doesn’t amount to much when you’re powerless to stop Republicans from passing a landmark tax cut legislation – or “the GOP tax scam,” as Schumer’s calling it. Then again, things might be looking better next year, when President Donald Trump’s unpopularity just might flip a few seats and make give Schumer the long-sought title of majority leader.