Winners & Losers 9/22/17
World leaders are gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this month, and the biggest news so far has been the posturing on controversial issues like North Korea’s missile tests and the Iran nuclear deal. But as usual, our weekly Winners & Losers list is filled almost entirely with local political figures – plus one international man of mystery.
Diana Ayala – Beating an elected official as a first-time candidate is a big deal – and worth the wait. New York City Council candidate Diana Ayala declared victory against primary rival Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez on election night, but with only 200 votes separating the two. Ayala couldn’t breathe easy until a week later, when Rodriguez finally conceded. The win for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s favorite candidate was another reminder that mujeres still run East Harlem.
John & Andrea Catsimatidis – It was a big week for politically connected billionaire John Catsimatidis. Daughter Andrea became chairwoman of the best-funded and least-successful Republican club in the country, the Manhattan GOP. And he got a biofuels business boost from a new state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo … who got himself a ride on the family’s private jet. Ethics rules can’t stop the Cat Man.
Rubén Díaz Jr. – When he’s alone and life is making him lonely, the beep can always go … downtown! The lights will soon be brighter in at least one downtown in the borough, thanks to $10 million in new funding for the Bronx Civic Center area through Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Plus, in a closely contested race that had divided establishment Democrats in the Bronx, the Diaz-backed Ayala finally came out ahead this week.
Brian Kavanagh – Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh is climbing the political ladder with the help of Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio. Kavanagh is now poised to replace former state Sen. Daniel Squadron, as Seddio selected Kavanagh in spite of a 72 percent vote for his rival Paul Newell by the Manhattan Democratic County Committee. Only in New York can a politician like Kavanagh bypass the will of the voters and still claim the mantle of a reformer.
Helene Weinstein – Helene Who-stein? You may not have heard of the Brooklyn assemblywoman yet, but she’s about to have a lot more clout in Albany as the new chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee. And in a place long ruled by men, it’s worth noting that she’s the first woman to hold the post. With any luck, she’ll live up to her predecessor’s example by getting a park named after her and hand-picking her successor whenever she retires.
Anthony Weiner – The disgraced ex-congressman has been a loser for years, but this week saw a string of especially bad news for Weiner. Federal prosecutors recommended two years in prison for his illegal sexting with an underage girl, and a court filing on the same day revealed more creepy details of those interactions. Meanwhile, a judge ruled that his divorce case with Huma Abedin can be made public.
Jerri Bayly – Sometimes you pick a winning candidate, and sometimes you pick a losing candidate. And sometimes your spouse runs against the candidate that your boss supports, and so you get fired. That’s allegedly what happened to Jerri Bayly, who lost her job as an aide to state Sen. Kathleen Marchione after Bayly’s husband ran against another Marchione staffer in a Rensselaer County Legislature race.
Matt Driscoll – The former state Department of Transportation commissioner and current Thruway Authority executive director has been slacking on the job. A promised task force on tolls for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was created in 2015, to be chaired by the DOT and Thruway head – Driscoll past and Driscoll present. However, the task force has never met and is a year past its deadline to come up with recommendations. For Driscoll, apparently, it’s possible to fail the same way in two different positions.
O’Keefe Thompson – All too often, New York City police officers accused of breaking the law get little more than a slap on the wrist. Which makes the charges against NYPD Officer O’Keefe Thompson all the more remarkable. The cop allegedly attacked a Coney Island man over a spilled drink – and while he’s innocent until proven guilty, Thompson’s alleged crimes have already made headlines.
Kim Jong Un – The human rights abuser and nuclear bomb aficionado is always crying about not being respected in the world. So what a great burn for the North Korean dictator’s top diplomat to be chased down on the street by a TV crew and confronted about … parking tickets. Giuliani’s 1997 threat to sell off the U.N. over parking ticket debt didn’t seem to intimidate Kim, and the Hermit Kingdom now owes City Hall more than $150,000.