Winners & Losers 5/12/17
It’s been a weird week in Cuomoland. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s brother, Chris, went hard after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on his CNN show, getting compliments from the left and derision from the right. And the gov's partner, Sandra Lee, threw some extra salt into her cooking, reportedly treating House Speaker Paul Ryan with disdain on the set of Fox & Friends. But Andrew himself was chumming it up with a Republican, dining with Gov. Chris Christie at a New Jersey diner – and crossing paths again in Midtown. While our Cuomologists read the tea leaves of what this all means for the 2020 election, check out some more straightforward Winners & Losers.
Anthony Bonomo – If Bonomo was "Always Dreaming" of redemption, his aptly named horse gave it to him by winning this year’s Kentucky Derby. The former New York Racing Association chairman’s been plagued by scandal, accused of providing a no-show job, giving sketchy campaign donations and suffering huge losses at his medical malpractice insurance firm – but that scarcely matters when you’ve got “Kentucky Derby-winning horse owner” on the top of your resume.
Betty Little – The North Country state senator was appointed to lead the newly created Senate Republican Women’s Caucus, which is aimed at touting women's growing ranks in the conference while also helping the GOP connect with female voters. We just hope it’s a genuine effort – unlike another oft-criticized and arguably self-serving effort to capitalize on women voters – and isn’t driven solely by recent voting trends.
Julie Menin – Let the music play for commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Menin was at the forefront of successful efforts that will bring the Grammy Awards back to New York City after a 15-year hiatus. Not bad for a commissioner whose office added music to its portfolio about a year ago.
Jose Peralta, Diane Savino & David Valesky – Members of the breakaway Independent Democratic Caucus in the past have been accused of being political opportunists – but now they’re laughing all the way to the bank. As the Times reported this week, the three IDC state senators are getting stipends they would not normally receive if they were mainline Dems – even though the IDC had maintained Peralta wouldn’t get the extra cash. Then again, maybe state Sen. Tony Avella is the bigger winner for opting not to take the money.
Mark Peters – When New York City Bill de Blasio appointed campaign treasurer Mark Peters to run the city’s Department of Investigation, the decision was widely questioned. And a year into the job, the City Council grilled him over a drop in agency arrests and criminal referrals. But in the wake of a bombshell DOI report on Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, Peters has rehabilitated his reputation as an aggressive, independent investigator – even if it’s ultimately with an eye on running for office himself.
Christopher Crowningshield – While there are plenty of complaints about taxi service outside of New York City, Crowningshield may be the best argument we’ve heard yet for bringing Uber upstate. The Plattsburgh taxi owner was fined by $2,500 for charging foreign refugees exorbitant rates as they got rides to the Canadian border to take advantage of our northern neighbor’s hospitable resettlement policies. With service like Crowningshield’s, no wonder they’re fleeing.
Melissa Mark-Viverito – The City Council speaker doesn’t have much to say about a doomed development pledge that has been dogging her community for years. The Post reported that the de Blasio administration plans to break the city’s promise to replace all the parkland lost during the construction of Yankee Stadium. Instead, the administration seeks to add high-rise development. The speaker said she is undecided and needs to “review” the proposal.
G. Steven Pigeon – It’s a rare bird that lands in court in separate cases three times in a single year, but that’s where Pigeon found himself this week. The latest charges were brought by federal prosecutors, who allege the Western New York political operative illegally funneled a Canadian company’s campaign contribution to Cuomo. Pigeon may be wondering why prosecutors are flocking to him – he insists he’s a good egg – but we’ll wait and see if he ends up free as a bird.
Joseph Ponte – Everyone seems to be punting Ponte’s head. Mark-Viverito called for the correction commissioner to resign and he is expected to step down Friday. Her colleagues grilled him under oath, asking about departmental aides listening in on investigators’ conversations with informants on Rikers Island and Ponte leaving town in his city-owned car for 90 days. And the hunt may not be over: Mark-Viverito said she wanted to examine whether Ponte committed perjury, and the Post reported that his out-of-state travel may merit attention from the IRS.
Michael Powers – And to think college students in Albany get a bad rap. This week, Albany police reportedly were called to a hotel multiple times during responding to complaints about rowdy and intoxicated correction officers partying through the night. The reason they were in town? To hold a press conference at the state Capitol calling for measures to make prisons safer. To professionalism!