Winners & Losers 1/5/18
Sometimes the feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio goes too far. In his inaugural address, de Blasio spoke for 13 minutes in 18-degree weather. Not to be outdone, Cuomo held forth for more than an hour and a half – and cranked up the air conditioning to keep his audience nearly as cold. Of course, neither could compete with the severe blizzard that hammered the East Coast on Thursday. This week, here’s who’s inside sipping hot chocolate – and who’s been whipped by the wintry winds.
Geoffrey Berman & Richard Donoghue - U.S. attorneys, both of them. A pretty good line to add to the resume, especially for Berman, who becomes the latest legal celebrity to run the “Sovereign District.” As a former paratrooper, Donoghue has the more interesting past, but Trump likely nominated the pair for what he sees in their future: a quiet, uneventful few years of not bringing criminal charges against President Donald Trump.
Akeem Browder – Perhaps the most powerful moment in Cuomo’s 90-minute State of the State speech came when he retold the tragic story of how Browder’s brother Kalief was jailed for three years for allegedly stealing a backpack at age 16. Akeem was asked to stand for rousing applause for championing bail reform. If you can’t be mayor of New York City – Akeem ran and won 1.4 percent of the vote, besting Bo Dietl – getting a show-stopping shoutout in the state’s biggest political speech of the year ain’t half bad.
Corey Johnson – It was a done deal in December, but now that he’s officially New York City Council speaker, the perks started rolling in. There’s the effusive praise from colleagues. There’s the epic blizzard photo shoot. The celebrity shoutouts. The hugs from mom. And even the self-appointed “CoJo” nickname. But the best part of a big position? Your friends in the theater and hotel industries will keep on donating.
Ydanis Rodriguez – To make the streets a little safer, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to install 1,500 bollards in heavily trafficked areas. They’re meant to help prevent terror attacks that use cars as a weapon, though the $50 million price tag has left some wondering why they’ll cost so much. Still, it’s a win for Rodriguez, who’s has been pushing for the posts to be installed. He also introduced and passed legislation in December that will require the city to keep a record on all the bollards put in place. Not a bad consolation prize after coming up short in the the speaker's race.
Chris Ward – The former Port Authority executive director’s idea for a Red Hook to Manhattan subway won a coveted mention in Cuomo’s State of the State address, opening up the possibility of drastic redevelopment to revolutionize South Brooklyn. Never mind that climate change experts predict such low-lying areas will be underwater in the not-so-distant future. But if you’re Ward, who stands to get credit for the $3.5 billion concept, solve poverty in the area and maybe even make big money for his firm in the process, who cares!
Rodneyse Bichotte – The Brooklyn assemblywoman was celebrating back in June, when both houses in Albany passed her legislation aimed at expanding the number of minority- and women-owned businesses that can qualify for state contracts. But the victory was short-lived, as Cuomo vetoed the legislation just before the end of the year. While the governor did sign another MWBE bill sought by New York City, he cited what he called “fundamental flaws” in Bichotte’s bill.
Ed Cox – It’s hard enough to run a viable Republican candidate in New York. But when you put all your cards in one basket, or in this case, one candidate, it must sting when that candidate decides not to run. Harry Wilson, who state GOP operatives had pegged as their first and only choice as a challenger to Cuomo, announced this week he’s not going to run. Then another possible candidate, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, has also decided against a run. The pool of candidates is dwindling, but at least Cox still has former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, who has officially announced his candidacy.
Brad Hoylman & Linda Rosenthal – For advocates and lawmakers who are trying to pass the Child Victims Act, it may not be a good sign that the governor failed to mention the bill in his State of the State address. There’s still a chance that the sponsors, Hoylman and Rosenthal, will be celebrating the bill’s passage by the end of session, as it is on the governor’s official list of priorities this year, but something would have change in the state Senate for it to advance.
Robert Mujica – Cuomo’s State of the State address was filled with big policy ideas, designed to garner multiple standing ovations from a willing audience. But as appealing as bail reform, cashless tolling and other reforms may be, Cuomo also noted that the state is facing a $4 billion deficit and $2 billion in federal cuts – not to mention fallout from the federal tax overhaul. Budget director Mujica is going to have to figure out a way to pay for those grand ideas, leaving him the unenviable choice of expanding the deficit or cutting back on Cuomo’s dreams.
John Porcari – President Donald Trump may or may not have killed the proposed Gateway rail tunnel underneath the Hudson River, reneging on a promise by the Obama administration to provide half the funding for the desperately needed upgrade to the tubes connecting New Jersey to New York Penn Station. Even if the Trump administration calling the agreement “nonexistent” doesn’t mean it’s dead, it’s on life support, as Porcari, executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corp. in charge of building the tunnel, called it a “near-death experience.”