Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio made news this week, many times in the same headline, though their coverage took divergent paths thanks to the budget and a blizzard. Cuomo won the first round of the passive-aggressive universal preschool dispute with de Blasio, promising unlimited state resources to fund the mayor’s proposed preschool and after school program for the city, while de Blasio continues to hold out for the symbolic win of a tax hike to pay for it. Cuomo also delivered his budget address, which went down relatively smooth, unlike de Blasio’s snow removal. Will this be one of many wins over the next six months for Cuomo? As always, your votes will decide who are the week’s Winner and Losers.
Andrew Cuomo - The governor unveiled his latest executive budget this week, once again reminding lawmakers that if anyone is in control in this state, it’s him. Exhibit A was his continued standoff with Bill de Blasio over how to pay for more pre-K, with the governor ratcheting up the pressure by insisting the state would be “proud” to pay and pledging to fund new programs as fast as New York City can get them up and running. And of course, Cuomo holds the trump card—it’s ultimately up to Albany to decide whether to allow New York City to raise taxes, regardless of what de Blasio wants.
Julissa Ferreras - Ferreras was the big winner in the City Council committee shuffle, edging out her Queens colleague Jimmy Van Bramer for the Finance chair. The plum position is a reward for Ferreras, a supporter of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, for bucking her county’s establishment, and further consolidates the Progressive Caucus’ power within the Council. Honorable mention goes to Ritchie Torres, the only Bronx member to originally support Mark-Viverito, as well as the only freshman to get both a leadership position and a committee chair.
Mike Hein - Bill de Blasio is New York’s new big-shot mayor, having enjoyed an inauguration ceremony featuring the Clintons, a visit with President Obama at the White House and a high-profile spot at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ meeting in D.C. this week. But a lesser known local official, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, just got something de Blasio doesn’t have and desperately wants—Albany’s approval of a home-rule request to raise local taxes.
Kevin Parker - Who says bow ties are passé? Certainly not Long Island politico Brad Gerstman, who ranked dapper, occasional pugilist State Senator Kevin Parker #1 on his annual list of the ten best-dressed men in government in New York State. Gerstman’s praise of Parker’s sartorial savvy was rapturous. According to the self-styled Anna Wintour of Albany, “Parker adds to his daring look by not being afraid to include a colorful pocket square to his dashing ensemble.” We couldn’t agree more, Brad. What could be more daring than a pocket square?
Tom Prendergast - New Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t the only one rolling in the cash this week. The MTA got its first reimbursement for Hurricane Sandy Recovery efforts—a cool $866 million. In the era of constant fear of Congressional gridlock, it has to be nice to finally get the dough you were promised.
Bill de Blasio – De Blasio’s shtick about shoveling his own sidewalk got stale the second time he rolled it out this week. In part, that was because Upper East Side residents didn’t get their streets plowed for some mysterious reason, which for most of the day was attributed to traffic and then ended up in an about-face by the mayor, who issued a wholly unnecessary apology that gave legitimacy to a non-story. Really, the storm wasn’t half as icy as the treatment the mayor got from Albany this week, as the governor co-opted de Blasio’s signature issue, and then successfully spun the narrative that the mayor was being unreasonable for insisting on a tax hike when he should be claiming victory for realizing his chief campaign promise in record time. Now that’s cold.
Michael Grimm - The Staten Island Congressman has become a broken record of bad headlines, usually relating to campaign fundraising. This week, he was accused of irregular (and possibly illegal) campaign donor swapping; basically matching a donor who wants to give more than the legal limit with a like-minded individual in a different state so multiple candidates end up getting twice as much cash even though they are taking a contribution from someone they don’t know and likely doesn’t even care about them. The accusation may have been harmless on its own. Frankly, most voters probably don’t care enough to take the time to understand this issue. But Grimm’s steady stream of stories about controversial campaign practices is starting to turn him into a walking “death by a million paper cuts” cliché.
John King - It’s been a tough past year for the Education commissioner, ever since those pesky Common Core tests started to get handed out (and the scores came back). Until lately, it seemed like he at least had the governor on his side. Then this week Cuomo labeled the implementation “flawed” and called for legislative action to fix the problem. If that wasn’t bad enough, King had to sit through a grilling from state senators on Thursday, who were amped up to score political points hammering him as an easy target in an election year. He’s getting push back from everyone—Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents, school administrators. Whoever said “change doesn’t come easy” nailed it on the head.
Dick Iannuzzi - To hear the governor tell it, the new budget will provide one of the largest investments in education the state has ever made—and it’s something Cuomo and Co. are darn proud of. But the state of school funding is not quite so rosy to NYSUT, the statewide teachers’ union. Assuming the numbers that Iannuzzi’s union put out this week add up, more than two-thirds of school districts have less state aid than they did five years ago, and state support for public education is at its lowest levels since the 1940s. That’s what politicians call “building on success.”
Rosie Mendez & Annabel Palma - Only four of the 51 City Council members did not receive a subcommittee or a committee chair, but Mendez and Palma were the only senior members to be shut out. Palma’s punishment comes as no surprise, as she was open from the beginning in her opposition to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, but Mendez’s treatment is more of a mystery, as the two were previously friendly. But the art of politics tends to lose its meaning if you can’t reward your allies, and in the end, both Mendez and Palma backed the wrong horse.
Tags: Andrew Cuomo, annabel-palma, Bill De Blasio, Brad Gerstman, dick-iannuzzi, Jimmy Van Bramer, John King, Julissa Ferreras, Kevin Parker, Melissa-Mark Viverito, Michael Grimm, Mike Hein, Ritchie Torres, Rosie Mendez, Tom Prendergast