Winners and Losers, February 14, 2014

Written by City & State on . Posted in Winners & Losers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio loves to tell the “Tale of Two Cities.” But this week the narrative was a Tale of Two Leaders: It was the best of times for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it was the worst of times for New York City’s new mayor. Cuomo had everything before him—strong poll numbers, support for his pre-K approach—while for de Blasio, it was the winter of discontent. And, as always, there were plenty of other tales of winners and losers to tell this week.


Andrew Cuomo - From ABCs to pre-K to Q, Cuomo tops the list this week. First he slapped down the Board of Regents’ Common Core proposals as too little, too late, asserting himself on another election-year issue. Next a Quinnipiac poll showed state residents like his no-tax pre-kindergarten plan, and then he rubbed de Blasio’s nose in it, again offering to do whatever it takes to give kids pre-K. And for a back end of the week finale, Quinnipiac showed that he’d stroll into another term as governor, and President Obama gave him the $8 billion Medicaid waiver the state desperately needed. All together it’s no Sexiest Man Alive list mention week, but it was certainly a politically sexy one.

Joe Martens - The quick silver fox jumped over the lazy pols. After Cuomo threw his CNN anchor brother, Chris, under the bus for calling the DEC head “vertically challenged” during a conversation about basketball games with Mario Cuomo staffers, Chris defended Martens’ on-court honor, saying he was “fast as hell and had hops. We called him silver fox.” Of course, Martens’ focus nowadays is more on the outdoors—at work anyway—and the new lifetime fishing, hunting and parks permits might earn him some brownie points with sportsmen. Plus, have you seen those new license plates included in the package? They’re ballin’.

Shola Olatoye - Running the New York City Housing Authority is viewed by many in housing circles as a thankless job, owing to the agency’s shoddy finances, backlog of repairs, and generally poor management as a landlord for low-income New Yorkers. Mayor Bill de Blasio ensured that Olatoye, the new NYCHA chair, would not be wading into a complete cesspool by clearing a cool $52 million owed to the NYPD for policing NYCHA property off her ledger. Free of that burden, Olatoye can now get to work addressing the decrepit conditions of NYCHA facilities, and perhaps make some headway in improving the authority’s lousy reputation.

Sheldon Silver - If you ever wanted to party with Shelly, this week was your chance. The Assembly speaker marked his birthday and his 20-year anniversary of becoming speaker—one-third of his tenure in that job, according to Twitter’s Fake Sheldon Silver. Plus, other than Assemblyman William Boyland Jr.’s ongoing corruption trial, there wasn’t a scandal—sexual harassment, corruption or otherwise—in the Assembly this week. And, Mr. Speaker, with the Legislature off next week, you can party this weekend like it’s 1994.

Scott Stringer Scott Stringer found himself face to face with two powerful people this week. One was billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The other was the new mayor Bill de Blasio. In both disputes Stringer seemed to come out on top in public opinion—opposing Icahn’s push for Apple to give more cash to investors, and criticizing de Blasio for his decision to call police officials to check on the arrest of a political ally. Less than a month and a half into office that’s a pretty good week.


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Bill de Blasio -  An unhappy recap of de Blasio’s no good, very bad week: First, Republican Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos rained on the mayor’s universal pre-K parade by firmly stating his intention to block a floor vote on the mayor’s tax hike proposal to pay for the program. Skelos’ Democratic counterpart Jeff Klein then swelled up with courage to vigorously defend de Blasio’s proposal, only to play the shrinking violet less than 24 hours later by walking back his commitment to stall the budget if the tax hike did not receive a vote. If only it ended there, but de Blasio also displayed the downside to his micromanaging personality by reportedly personally calling to check on the arrest of a clergy member who happened to be on his transition team. The mayor was pilloried for what may have been an inappropriate phone call, with few coming to his defense, save for Rudy Giuliani. Rule of thumb, Bill: when Rudy, who can hardly be called an ally, is the only one patting you on the back, it might be a good idea to think twice about “inquiring” into police arrests no matter how “appropriate” you claim your actions were. Lastly, Mr. Mayor, when you’ve lost Al Roker, you’re in trouble.

Carmen Fariña - Look, we get it, New York City prides itself on almost never closing schools because of weather-related events. But anybody who took two steps outside on Thursday could understand why some parents may have been a wee bit ticked off to have to schlep their kids to school in the sopping wet, dense snow that blanketed the five boroughs. It certainly was no deterrent to Fariña, who touted what a “beautiful day” it was, while offering a rather meek defense for keeping schools open. Her statement may have been a joke, but a below 50 percent attendance rate at schools today proves that parents did not view the weather as a laughing matter.

Jeff Klein – What’s his favorite restaurant? Waffle House. The co-leader of the state Senate and the head of the Independent Democratic Conference seemed to actually take an independent step when he demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pre-K plan be included in the state budget. A day later, he somehow changed his mind. And his legislation dealing with wine warehouses—which would benefit a big out-of-state distributor who happens to be a big Klein donor—raised some eyebrows, even if the bill really is about job creation.

Madeline Lugo and Carlos Velasquez - Who doesn’t love a parade? These two surely did. Under Lugo’s watch Velasquez’ company allegedly skimmed more than a million dollars in donations for the Puerto Rican Day parade, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Now Lugo has been ousted as chairwoman of the parade and Velasquez has been ordered to pay back $100,000 while also being forced to forgive roughly a million bucks in fees. At least this deal ensures the parade will go off as planned this summer.

Lynne Nowick and Patrick Vecchio – Stupid technicality or not, if failing to sign a piece of paper gets you bounced from office you deserve to be among the losers of the week. That’s what happened to Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, and two other officials, all of whom were booted from their seats by the town clerk for failing to sign the written oath required within 30 days of assuming office. Most embarrassing is the fact that Vecchio is a 36-year-plus incumbent, so if anybody should have known about the requirement, it was him. At the end of the week Nowick and Vecchio were reinstated, but, really, all this fuss could have been avoided, if they had only picked up a pen.


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