Winners & Losers 7/7/17
The press has been bashed and battered in recent weeks: The New York Times is under fire for its plans to thin its copy editing ranks, CNN had to retract a story about a President Donald Trump ally – and the president has showed the first lady what cyberbullying is all about with a series of bizarre online attacks against the media. Then again, maybe any press is good press. With that in mind, here are this week’s Winners & Losers.
Robert Ortt - The Republican state senator garnered his second straight win as the state Legislature approved a $55 million relief fund for flooding along Lake Ontario. The deal will allow homeowners to qualify for up to $50,000 for repairs, and also benefits businesses and municipalities. The initial push by Ortt and other lawmakers was for $90 million, but unlike in Washington, there’s still room for compromise in Albany. And as Ortt said, it “will provide much-needed relief to families devastated by the unprecedented man-made disaster.”
Bridget Rohde – While the Southern District feds get all the good press for nabbing ancient politicians, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde and her colleagues in the Eastern District are getting props for saving ancient artifacts – specifically, the clay cuneiform tablets allegedly looted from Iraq that Hobby Lobby smuggled into the U.S. as tile samples. With the story making Fox News, Rohde’s all but guaranteed a permanent spot in the Trump administration.
Barbara Sears Nevergold – The president of the Buffalo school board was re-elected on Wednesday, despite the machinations of Carl Paladino, who tried to nominate his colleagues for the presidency one by one instead. While the board’s reputation may be tarnished by the drama surrounding the trial to remove Paladino, Sears Nevergold seems to have emerged a victor regardless – she was also named vice chairwoman of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts for 2017-18.
Keegan Stephan – After a lengthy lawsuit, the NYPD has stated it will now accept and respond to Freedom of Information requests over email. The lawsuit was brought by law school student Keegan Stephan, who’s been pushing for greater NYPD transparency for years. Apparently the NYPD should have been doing this since 2006, but who would have thought the police might not always abide by the law?
Adam Weitsman – Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a man of the people: He’s paying for your kids to go to college, he cut taxes for the middle class and he’s doing the dirty work of cleaning up Albany. So it’s no surprise that when he wants to meet with wealthy folk like Weitsman, the Skaneateles restaurateur and art collector, it somehow doesn’t end up on his public schedule. Fortunately for everyone else who doesn’t have enough cash to roll with the guv, Weitsman offered to take suggestions on what to ask.
Bill de Blasio – If sticking taxpayers with $2.3 million in legal bills, or presiding over a 40 percent increase in street homelessness wasn’t bad enough, the mayor made his no-good-very-bad week just a little bit uglier when he was caught sporting cargo shorts and a belt during a stretch session at the gym. Who pays the legal bills might be lose-lose, and the homelessness metrics may be HOPE-lessly faulty, but cargo shorts, Bill?
Chris Christie – If it wasn’t bad enough that a government shutdown closed all New Jersey state parks and beaches just in time for July Fourth weekend, the photos that emerged of Gov. Chris Christie enjoying the beach with his family on Sunday were truly the icing on the cake. To top it all off, the Times reported that the governor diverted funding meant for a Hudson River train tunnel to a ferry service barely used by commuters.
John Porcari – The Gateway Tunnel, already facing more uncertainty than an 8:35 from Secaucus, just hit another bump as Trump’s Department of Transportation pulled out of its space on Porcari’s Gateway Development Corporation board. Commuters fear it could signal a lack of support for the crucial rail tunnel under the Hudson … which could turn one “Summer of Hell” into an ongoing “traffic armageddon.”
Tom Suozzi – Rep. Tom Suozzi has been taking some heat for his apparent attempt to find a way for commercial planes to D.C. to wait for him when he is running late. A Suozzi staffer reportedly emailed other congressional staff members asking if they knew of any ways to hold flights for their bosses. Unfortunately for Prince Suozzi, it seems to most airlines us plebeians matter too. Sad!
Ruben Wills – Opening arguments in the case against Wills, who was indicted for repurposing public funds for personal shopping sprees in 2014, began this week. In a stunning defense, the councilman’s lawyer said Wills was merely guilty of being “sloppy” with his bookkeeping, which is to be expected since he “isn’t a Harvard graduate.” Wills may be innocent until proven guilty, but the burns he received by his own defense attorney would make any victory seem hollow.