Winners and Losers, January 10, 2014

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




Gov. Cuomo patted himself on the back for building on the progress of the last couple of years. Everyone in Albany patted Mayor de Blasio on the back for building on the progress of the last few months, as he has leapt from obscure public advocate to the nation’s progressive darling. All 51 New York Council members had to admit that Melissa Mark-Viverito had built on the progress of the last couple of weeks, out-dueling her rivals to win the speakership. And Chris Christie built on the progress of the humility training he has secretly been going through since the lane closure scandal came to light. And you get to build on your own progress by voting for the latest batch of Winners and Losers.


Bill de Blasio - The mayor got his speaker. When City & State first reported during the Somos conference in Puerto Rico that de Blasio was calling Council members pushing Melissa Mark-Viverito for speaker, it seems that was only the tip of the iceberg. The mayor and his team put on a full-court press to sway members to support MMV, cutting deals, making promises, all the while pulling a “see no evil, hear no evil” routine with the media. It was perhaps the best example of de Blasio’s keen political instincts, going for the win at all costs, even if the price was transparency.

Melissa Mark-Viverito - New York City’s first Latina speaker certainly did not have an easy path to victory. Mark-Viverito and her coalition of support held firm through occasionally nasty opposition research and a thorough vetting by the press, ultimately forcing her opponent Dan Garodnick to concede at the last minute. Mark-Viverito assumes arguably the second-most powerful position in the city with question marks surrounding her independence from the mayor who helped crown her, but she also has an opportunity to lead a new Council with an appetite for tackling some of the issues she has advocated for as a legislator. Has she learned from the missteps of her predecessor? Time will tell.

Frank Seddio - Give Seddio some credit. Rather then letting his Queens counterpart Joe Crowley be a kingmaker in the speaker’s race the Brooklyn Democratic boss seized the opportunity to score a big win for his Council members and county organization by supporting Melissa Mark-Viverito. The deal making was not without its risks, with the viability of his county organization at stake, and one has to believe Seddio was sweating out those final days before Dan Garodnick conceded. Now he will get to collect whatever he was promised in the back room.

Joe Sitt - One of the surprising nuggets of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address was the announcement that he wants the state to take over control of the development of LaGuardia and JFK airports. This was great news for New York City real estate mogul Joe Sitt, who has been pushing for changes to improve the aging structures through launching the Global Gateway Initiative. There are still some legal obstacles before Cuomo’s plan can take off, but for advocates of better regional air travel this week marked significant progress.

Dean Skelos – The governor’s decision to stick to the middle ground was a win for the Senate majority leader. Despite a surging progressive movement in New York City—and Mayor Bill de Blasio sitting in the crowd—the governor played it fairly down the middle with his State of the State proposals. While Cuomo renewed his calls for full passage of his 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, he did offer up a tax plan that includes cuts. Skelos said Cuomo sounded like a “good moderate Republican.” With the governor’s plans not to far apart from Skelos’s stance, the Republican can ride with some confidence into this year’s power struggle in the Legislature.

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Chris Christie - A “humiliated” Christie was forced to admit this week that his top aides were behind what could be the stupidest scandal to ever sink a top contender for the Presidency. Whether the Governor of New Jersey knew about the manufactured lane shutdowns drummed up by his sophomoric staffers to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not supporting his reelection bid is still an open question. What is already clear is that either the man W. dubbed Big Boy is an overgrown middle school bully, or he was utterly devoid of judgment in selecting his inner circle. In either scenario, GW-gate is a bumper-to-bumper jam of epic proportions that is hard to imagine how the governor can get through in time for 2016.

Joe Crowley and Carl Heastie - Despite the best efforts of Crowley and Heastie, chairmen of the Queens and Bronx Democratic parties, respectively, they ultimately were outplayed in supporting Dan Garodnick for speaker. The two overestimated the power they had over their own delegations, with key votes such as Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres and a handful of Queens members bucking the establishment to back Melissa Mark-Viverito. Worst of all, by dragging the fight out to the bloody end, Crowley and Heastie may have missed a key opportunity to strike a compromise where both sides shared in the spoils of victory.

Ed Cox - The chairman of the state GOP doesn’t have much of a bench when it comes to statewide and congressional candidates, and yet he can’t even keep the few prospects he has in line. This week former Gov. George Pataki tried to pull the rug out from under State Senator Lee Zeldin in his challenge to Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, urging Zeldin to drop out of the race to clear the way for Pataki’s pick, George Demos. At the same time this internecine strife was smoldering on Long Island, Cox’s choice for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, was making his chairman look like they weren’t on the same page, denying that he was all in for governor just a day after Cox was quoted saying he was definitely going for it. With friends like these, eh Ed?

Sigfredo Gonzalez - The corruption case against state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in many ways hangs on the testimony of Gonzalez, who wore a wire to catch the lawmaker allegedly accepting a bribe. Turns out, Gonzalez didn’t want the wire to record everything. He conveniently turned it off during a meeting in Albany with some of the alleged bribers because they brought a prostitute with them—and Gonzalez didn’t want his actions on tape. The snitch finally admitted he lied to the feds about his actions, which alone would have landed him on this list. But now his testimony is called into question, potentially blowing the Feds case against Stevenson. And you wonder why Albany has a tarnished reputation?

Sheldon Silver - First the Assembly speaker was outed on Twitter for apparently catnapping while sitting up front with Vice President Joe Biden during the Veep’s visit to the Captiol (“Fake Sheldon Silver” wrote tongue-in-cheek that the speaker was “Contemplating the serious issues facing New Yorkers as we rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Not ‘snoozing,’” and included a photo with the post that shows a slumbering Silver). Then the next day the governor got a few laughs at the speaker’s expense during the State of the State, poking fun at Silver’s (and Dean Skelos’s) absence from the Adirondack Challenge. But, hey, it wasn’t all bad. He at least he got an invite to the governor’s 2014 bass fishing challenge.

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