Winners & Losers 7/28/17
In this week’s episode of “Whose Subway Is It Anyway?” Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his handpicked MTA Chairman Joe Lhota unveiled their latest plan to fix the subways and … surprise! It’s basically just one big money grab. By asking New York City to pony up half of the $836 million plan, Cuomo and Lhota appear intent on painting Mayor Bill de Blasio into a corner and making him a loser. By not blinking in this staredown, the mayor may get himself a political win, but if the subway continues to fall apart, don’t we all lose? Here are this week’s Winners & Losers.
Gale Brewer & Dan Garodnick – These two towers of Manhattan politics may soon be joined by new, gleaming office towers in the area around Grand Central Terminal after the long-delayed Midtown East rezoning plan passed the City Council Land Use Committee on Thursday. Term-limited City Councilman Dan Garodnick and the beloved Beep ushered in the plan and negotiated it over years in an effort to give the old-school neighborhood a new-school vibe.
Pete King – Not content with a visit from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rep. Pete King pulled some strings and announced that his new bestie President Donald Trump will be visiting Long Island on Friday to deliver a speech on MS-13 gang violence. That’s a hell of a get, considering how infrequently the Donald visits his home state these days.
Mark Poloncarz - The Erie County executive made headlines this week with the announcement that the county will be buying 148 acres of land where the Bethlehem Steel site once stood in Lackawanna. The $5.5 million deal looks to bring new life and industry to the once thriving, but now abandoned, area. The move has drawn praise from local residents and construction is already underway.
Anthony Scaramucci - New York’s fast-talking finance and banking icon, “the Mooch” was appointed last Friday as White House communications director, triggering the resignation of Sean Spicer, the displeasure of “brother” Reince Priebus (Abel to Scaramucci’s Cain?), and the publishing of his financial disclosure forms Thursday – which show $85 million in assets and $10 million in income since 2016. Sure, some of what he says is loony tunes, but that probably means he'll fit right in.
Zephyr Teachout - The former gubernatorial candidate and darling of the left may be sitting out the 2018 midterms after a tough congressional loss to John Faso in the Hudson Valley, but she’s keeping her name in the mix with this week’s news that she was elected to a state Democratic Committee post. It’s not exactly a consolation prize, but Teachout is still considered a rising star in Democratic politics and many on the left are clamoring for a solid primary challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year. Hmmm.
Merlin Alston - The crooked cop was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was busted for diving headfirst into the drug trade, including informing dealers of raids, distributing narcotics himself and using his badge and issued gun to make it all happen. Alston is said to have worked under his longtime buddy/drug dealer and delivered an estimated 200 kilos of cocaine over four years.
Bill de Blasio – The mayor saw some bad press this week with a New York Times feature looking into his alleged favors for a campaign donor, restaurateur Harendra Singh. The mayor also got battered after police were reportedly ordered to sweep homeless people from a subway station before he did a press event, which his office denied, even after the email supposedly giving the order was published. “Read my lips: I don’t care,” de Blasio said Wednesday about the email. That’s probably what got him in trouble in the first place.
John Flanagan – Every politician loves to be showered with praise, but it seems few love to have their shower appraised. The state Senate majority leader’s shower in the Capitol cost taxpayers $24,000, according to the Daily News, but even though he’s not the only one with bathing benefits – with four private showers in the Capitol and five more in the Legislative Office Building belonging to as-yet-unnamed bathers – much to the chagrin of Flanagan, this “bottom of the drain” story has legs.
Naquan Hill – The burglary suspect and Rikers Island inmate gave the slip to four correction officers, climbed a fence, and escaped from jail on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the Correction Department), Hill couldn’t actually go full Andy Dufresne, and he was recaptured early Thursday morning. Say what you will about the ethics, apparently the whole jail-on-an-island thing works as advertised.
Neal Kwatra – The über-lobbyist is caught in the world’s most boring flame war, as the hotel-backed group he’s representing, Share Better, exchanges dueling JCOPE complaints with Airbnb, alleging improper lobbying and missing registrations. But there’s more: The Times uncovered Kwatra’s communiqués with City Hall over his work on behalf of scandal-plagued Harendra Singh’s restaurant lease – maybe is/maybe isn’t lobbying that Kwatra never registered for. It may amount to nothing, but it’s not a good look, is it?