Winners and Losers, February 28, 2014

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



Everyone seemed a bit jumpy this week: Sen. Tony Avella jumped to the IDC, Sen. Adriano Espaillat jumped back into the fray with Rep. Charlie Rangel, Assemblyman Micah Kellner jumped out of his race, and Donald Trump’s son-in-law jumped on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Where will they land in our weekly winners and losers? That’s up to you.


Tony Avella - There’s nothing like joining a playoff-bound team midway through the season after spending time with one below .500. Avella’s defection from the Senate Democrats to the Independent Democratic Conference not only benefits the IDC bench, but it raises his star status within the Senate. Co-leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos rewarded Avella’s move with the chairmanship of the social services committee and the vice-chairmanship of the environmental conservation committee. OK, so maybe those aren’t home runs, but at least he’s on base now.

Byron Brown - In a Rust Belt town built on manufacturing, IBM’s move to bring 500 new jobs downtown only adds to the allure of Brown’s new Buffalo—a city increasingly shifting to the tech sector. It’s still no Manhattan, but the state’s second-largest city just keeps adding to that “cranes dotting the Buffalo skyline” image that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has worked so feverishly to promote. While the governor has been lauded for the IBM move and the state’s initiative to invest the Buffalo Billion in the city and region—rightfully so given the state’s push to build up Buffalo—it’s still Brown’s city at the end of the day. And it’s increasingly becoming a town he can take pride in running.

Rose Harvey - Maybe Cuomo’s tourism ads actually are having an impact. Last year more than 60 million people visited state parks and historical sites in New York, the second-highest level of attendance on record. Not only that, but Commissioner Rose Harvey and her State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation was able to attract that many visitors even though Superstorm Sandy temporarily shut down some popular destinations on Long Island.

Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos - Did you hear that? That was the sound of the two Senate co-leaders exhaling. Klein and Skelos sured up—albeit in a minor way—their majority coalition by snagging Tony Avella from the Dems. The men also had room for a little dance when Sen. Ruben Diaz proclaimed that the days of the traditional Democrats are over. With the co-leaders moving a touch more freely, what you don’t hear is Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as she tries not to breathe or make any sudden movements, lest the already frail power structure topple in her opponents’ favor.

Jimmy Oddo - While the governor can take credit for approving a plan for Verrazano Bridge toll reductions, it is Oddo’s Staten Island constituents who will reap the benefits of the deal, making the borough president a winner by extension. In fact, it was a high-profile week for Oddo across the board, as not only did the MTA approve the toll reduction plan, but he also hosted Mayor Bill de Blasio in the borough for a meeting to discuss Sandy recovery, sharing the spotlight with the mayor at a press conference afterwards. Borough presidents rarely get to make a lot of citywide press, so even though he was only peripherally involved in these happenings, Oddo, quite literally, just had to show up to make some news.


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Micah Kellner - It was hardly a surprise when Assemblyman Micah Kellner of Manhattan announced last Friday that he would not seek reelection. Having been sanctioned by the Assembly for sexual harassing staff members and stripped of his committee chairmanship, Kellner had spent the last several months withering away in Albany’s wasteland. Though the Kellner mess has long been an embarrassment for his constituents on the Upper East Side, at least they can take some consolation that had Kellner just outright resigned they would have had no representation in the lower house of the Legislature until January 2015, since the governor is not calling special elections.

Ken Kurson and Jared Kushner - The editor and publisher of the Observer might have had plausible deniability that the lengthy cover story they ran this week about Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was little more than a hit piece in retaliation for Schneiderman pursuing Kushner’s father-in-law, Donald Trump, for his involvement in the now defunct Trump University. But any pretense of serious journalism was blown to smithereens in just the opening paragraph of the Times article about the profile’s inception, when it was revealed that Kurson recruited the manager of an ice cream parlor to write the piece, who ultimately quit the assignment after determining that the objective was “basically” to “smear” the AG. Oh, and the other tell was the fact that Trump tweeted back in December that a publication was working on a piece on Schneiderman to “get even” for the AG investigating him. Clearly, now Kushner needs to protect the reputation of the Observer by firing Sam Nunberg.

Preston Niblack - Nothing quite captures the season of love like allegedly bludgeoning your domestic partner with a statue and picture frame. Niblack, the New York City Council’s finance director, was arrested for assaulting his partner of 17 years after Niblack was reportedly revealed to have pursued a romantic relationship with another man. It’s an embarrassing incident to be sure, and considering Niblack was a holdover from former speaker Christine Quinn’s staff, it’s safe to say his arrest might very well adversely affect his future employment in the Council.

Charles Rangel - The Harlem congressman’s political career might very well be on its last legs with his 2012 primary foe state Sen. Adriano Espaillat officially throwing his hat in the ring this week. Rangel—once an indomitable force in the House—has largely been marginalized in recent years, and the demographics of his district have shifted to the point where his once solid base is now much more fragmented. Even the political establishment seems to be turning his back on him; not long after Espaillat announced his intention to run for congress, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito switched her allegiances from Rangel to Espaillat. It will take some serious campaigning—on 83-year-old legs no less—for Rangel to hang on for another term.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. - It is understandable that Kennedy would want to protect his sister, Kerry, from being convicted of a misdemeanor for allegedly driving impaired, but he picked the wrong shoulder to cry on when he appealed to the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser for compassion. She only does crocodile tears.

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