Winners & Losers 10/20/17
Aaron Judge not, that ye be not judged, but it’s hard to see how New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t getting caught up in Yankee fever as the Bronx Bombers continue to cruise in their playoff run. Lighting up the Empire State Building orange? De Blasio said it’s for Amazon, but some saw the skyscraper bathed in Houston Astros’ orange as the passive-aggressive action of a known Yankee hater.
Ovadia Abulafia – They say don’t go into teaching for the salary, but it’s worked out alright for Abulafia, the state’s highest-paid public educator, according to Gannett Albany's new rankings. Dr. Abulafia makes more than $550,000 teaching at SUNY Downstate, but that may be inflated by the fact he’s also an OB-GYN at the hospital. The real winner? Kelly Fallon, who makes almost $400K superintending some of Long Island’s wealthiest kids at Half Hollow Hills.
Chris Collins – How does one manage to be a winner while under congressional investigation for ethics violations? While there’s a lot of smoke around Collins for insider trading, the most explosive allegation against him – that he wrote legislation on behalf of a biotech firm in which he is the largest investor – was nowhere to be found in the 29-page Office of Congressional Ethics report. Combine that with a $400,000 fundraising windfall courtesy of Vice President Mike Pence, and no serious Democratic challenger in sight, Collins can sleep well at night – at least this week.
Sarfraz Maredia – Uber’s black cars aren’t icons like the classic yellow taxi cab – but they are busier. For the first time, there are now more Uber trips per day in New York City than yellow cab rides. It’s a big win for Uber’s Northeast General Manager Maredia, and it came thanks to an increased focus on the outer boroughs – plus a couple million bucks in lobbying expenses to keep regulation to a minimum.
Shankar/Jimmy K. – New York City had a collective cow on Tuesday – a young Brahman steer, actually – when this heartthrob heifer broke loose in Flatbush, trotting around a local baseball field for hours, stealing hearts as police tried to wrangle the wily escapee they dubbed Jimmy K. But despite knocking a toddler out of her stroller, the dangerous dogie was released from police custody. Now this breakout bovine has made it to the Skylands Animal Sanctuary in New Jersey and renamed Shankar. No bull!
Stanley Brezenoff – Late last month, with the state refusing to shell out the $380 million NYC Health + Hospitals said it was owed, its interim President Stanley Brezenoff warned that the hospital system would run out of funding in two weeks – and would have to cut back on hiring. Two weeks later, almost to the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo caved to threats of lawsuits, agreeing to release $360 million. Apparently Cuomo realized that sticking it to de Blasio wasn’t worth devastating New York City’s safety net hospitals.
Eva Moskowitz – Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools network was hit with quite the one-two punch this week. First, New York City’s Department of Education announced that it would not find space for five new Success middle schools in time for the locations to win approval from a city panel. Then the city and state teachers unions filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent charters from certifying their own teachers. Will Moskowitz go quietly into the night or launch another all-out offensive on her archnemesis, Bill de Blasio? Stay tuned.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi – The “Chelsea bomber” was convicted on all eight counts of transporting and setting explosives for use as weapons of mass destruction for an explosion in the Manhattan neighborhood last year that injured about 30 people. (It helps that his lawyer pretty much admitted that he did it.) He’s likely to serve a life sentence, but he’ll have to wait for the final gavel to fall on his sentencing on Jan. 18.
John Sampson – How do you manage to make the Losers list when you’re already in jail for obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI about illegally skimming more than $400,000 and forever disgraced for violating the public trust? Apparently, if prosecutors have to ask to drain your retirement account for a $75,000 corruption conviction fine you still haven’t paid.
Cy Vance Jr. – He may be receiving gifts left and right, but when it comes to the Losers list, the Manhattan DA is the gift that keeps on giving. Soon after the revelation that he declined to prosecute Harvey Weinstein back in 2015, it was reported that Vance had received $70,000 from the law firm representing Bill de Blasio – before meeting with the firm about the mayor’s campaign finance case. Though Vance pledged to put contributions on hold while he gets his house in order, the incidents sparked a citywide conversation about donations to district attorneys – and promised to make this the hardest election ever for a guy running unopposed.
Howard Zemsky – How ’bout that Buffalo Billion? For all of the money that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is spending to revitalize the upstate economy – and lavishing praise on Zemsky for leading these efforts – all he has to show for it is a pathetic 0.3 percent job growth, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While Zemsky is the one ostensibly responsible for this economic inertia, it’s Cuomo who could suffer for it as he enters his re-election campaign in 2018.