Winners & Losers 5/19/17
President Donald Trump must have thought that firing James Comey as FBI director was a good idea, although he’s had a rough stretch ever since. But since Trump doesn’t get back to his hometown much these days, here are some New York political figures who had a big league week – and those whose week was so sad!
Bill de Blasio – Hizzoner’s been hitting a rhythm. He outpaced Paul Massey Jr., a Republican real estate developer who’s running against him, in fundraising for the first time, raking in over $600,000. Plus, he hit a 60 percent approval rating recently, a record high. With the election now just months away, it looks like the mayor’s peaking at the right time.
Andrew Cuomo – While Gov. Andrew Cuomo swears he has no presidential aspirations, despite widespread beliefs to the contrary, a new poll found that New York City residents want him for president in 2020 – by a 2-to-1 margin. One must think that spells good fortune for his gubernatorial run in 2018.
Josh Hughes & Phil Leinhart – Sure, we ale laugh at Cuomo’s complete and utter obsession with all things beer, but the respective brewmasters of Sullivan County’s Roscoe Beer Co. and Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang must be pretty pumped for the publicity they’re getting as co-winners of the Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge. Sweetest part for the upstaters? Stoutly beating all the city breweries on their own turf while they cry sour grapes.
Melissa Mark-Viverito – There were smiles and tears for the prominent supporter of the recently-freed Oscar López Rivera. The New York City Council speaker capped off a Cuba visit with a flight to Puerto Rico to welcome the controversial Puerto Rican nationalist, 35 years after his conviction for involvement with the paramilitary group FALN. New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade will honor him next month, at the expense of losing Goya as a major sponsor, but retaining the mayor’s support.
Charles Schumer – As the U.S. Senate minority leader, Schumer doesn’t have a lot of obvious tools at his disposal to obstruct the Republican agenda. But President Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving, with one bad news cycle after another threatening to derail the GOP’s ambitious agenda. And some credit also goes to Schumer for keeping the Democrats unified and on message, which built pressure for the appointment of a special counsel to handle an investigation into ties between the Trump team and Russia.
Chris Collins – The freshman congressman was prescient in his early support for Donald Trump, but he hasn’t had the easiest time in Washington, D.C., recently. Jumping on the Trump train has arguably helped him, but now he faces a congressional ethics investigation into potential conflicts of interest involving investors in an Australian biotech company.
John Flanagan & Jeff Klein – The state Senate Republicans’ Flanagan and the Independent Democratic Conference’s Klein maintain they partner to promote good government, but that argument got much harder to believe over the past week or so as one revelation after another raised serious legal questions about the secretive process by which several GOP and IDC members got higher stipends, or “lulus,” for chairing committees that they didn’t actually run. Is Albany turning into “lulu land” – or has it always been that way?
Jacques Jiha – Jiha’s Finance Department double-billed thousands of New York City residents, according to a report in the New York Post. And that’s just the latest criticism of Jiha, who’s also been blasted in recent weeks for selling off nonprofit properties and for failing to fix an unfair property tax code that he pledged to address when he first came on.
Gregory Meeks & Grace Meng – Sweetheart real estate deals, nonexistent offices and attacks on the “deplorable state of American journalism” – this Observer bombshell had it all, building a case alleging that Meeks and Meng are using taxpayer funds for their district offices to offset rent on their campaign offices in the same buildings. Long dogged by corruption allegations, Meeks apparently pays more for one Jamaica office than fellow U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney pays for THREE offices combined.
Joseph Ponte – That’s three losing weeks in a row for Ponte, but hopefully his last, as the city’s correction commissioner resigned after being caught taking his city vehicle on vacations despite rules against it. Top aide Gregory Kuczinski’s going down with him after accusations of eavesdropping on investigations. His union head foe Elias Husamudeen always said “take a dump or get off the stool” – and Ponte finally listened.