Winners and Losers, January 31, 2014

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





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For some it was a Grimm week. For others, it was a Lovely one. Fortunately, nobody got thrown over a balcony, and there were punchlines a plenty to keep everybody everybody in good spirits … well, almost everyone. Before you tune into the Super Bowl this weekend, enjoy the pre-game show: your Winners and Losers of the week.

 

Fred Dixon and Cristyne Nicholas – Are you ready for some… tourism? New York State certainly is with the Super Bowl bonanza at long last finally descending upon the metropolitan region. Dixon, the interim head of NYC & Company, and Nicholas, the chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council, are two of the state’s tourism leaders who will revel in this weekend as tons of money floods into city and state businesses across the service industries and beyond. Joining Dixon and Nicholas in this end zone dance will be Woody Johnson, the Tisch and Mara families, Al Kelly, George Fertitta, and everyone else who worked so hard to bring the Big Game across the river from the Big Apple. Oh, and of course, all those strip clubs that are going to make out like bandits.

Bob Hardt - It’s hard to make anyone a winner out of an incident as ugly as the one that played out on camera after the State of the Union with Congressman Michael Grimm threatening Time Warner Cable reporter Michael Scotto. We could have made Scotto a winner for standing his ground against someone clearly acting as a lunatic, but it seems a little odd to say someone is a winner when they are threatened with bodily harm while doing their job. As the Political Director for NY1, Hardt was quick to come to his reporter’s defense, granting interviews and using his daily column the Political ItCH to criticize Grimm. It’s also clear that NY1 and its political unit came out looking like the professionals they have proven to be time and again. As the head of that group, Hardt seemed the best person to tap as a winner.

Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams - It’s not often that people score multiple victories in different places at the same time, but that’s what happened to New York City Councilmen Lander and Williams yesterday morning, as Mayor de Blasio announced the settlement of the stop-and-frisk lawsuit at the same time as the Council’s Rules Committee hearing on the nomination of de Blasio’s campaign treasurer, Mark Peters, for NYC Department of Investigations commissioner. The settlement of the case cements the Community Safety Act, of which Lander and Williams were lead sponsors. Meanwhile, the Rules Committee meeting, which Lander presided over as chair, presented at least the appearance of real oversight, as Williams, Lander and a host of other councilmembers like Rory Lancman, Inez Dickens and Dan Garodnick asked tough questions of the nominee on both the topics of his independence and how he would select the new Inspector General of the NYPD. While next week’s vote on the nomination will reveal to what degree yesterday’s hearing was just theater, Lander nonetheless got off to a commendable start as chair of the important committee, with Williams playing an important supporting role.

Shira Scheindlin -  Redemption, thy name is Shira. Judge Scheindlin took one on the chin back in October when a higher court blocked her ruling that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional. While the judge was a deserved loser at the time, we were prescient in predicting that Mayor de Blasio would implement her recommendations to the NYPD regardless of the appeal by his predecessor Michael Bloomberg. Sure enough, the mayor dropped formally dropped the appeal this week, validating Scheindlin’s decision and effectively crowning her a hero of the policing reform movement.

Lovely Warren - It was a Lovely week! Just two weeks after Warren became the new mayor of Rochester, she was already besieged by scandal and facing an ethics investigation by the City Council. Then this week—poof—it all suddenly vanished, like a rabbit disappearing into a, er, warren. The City Council dropped its investigation of the mayor following the resignation of her uncle/bodyguard, and Warren got to introduce the Vice President during his visit to Monroe County, who said, in classic Biden, that Lovely was “appropriately named, ’cause I love her.”

 

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Joseph Desmaret - Desmaret might have been the smallest fly caught in the tangled web of corruption that ensnared state Sen. Malcolm Smith and former City Council member Dan Halloran, but thus far he’s gotten the biggest punishment. The former deputy mayor of Spring Valley in Rockland County pleaded guilty this week to federal corruption charges and could face up to nine years in the clink. Surely Desmaret’s former boss, ex-Spring Valley mayor Noramie Jasmin, who faces extortion charges of her own for the same case, hopes to avoid his fate as she sweats it out, awaiting her trial.

Danny Donohue - Tensions have always run high between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s public employee unions, but Donohue, who heads the Civil Service Employees Association, crossed the line this week when he called the governor a “moron” and a “monkey” during a rally with hundreds of union workers. Donohue has never been known as a leader who minces his words, but antagonizing the chief executive of the state steals the attention away from the cause he was rallying against—the closure of an upstate correctional facility that cost his membership jobs. Donohue would be wise to stray from the derogatory insults, and stick to the script.

Michael Grimm - Grimm must have gleaned a thing or two from the mobsters he followed in the FBI, as the Staten Island congressman went Tony Soprano on a NY1 reporter after the State of the Union, threatening to throw him off a balcony inside the U.S. Capitol building. Grimm then exacerbated the incident with statements that showed a lack of remorse for his actions, before ultimately apologizing to the reporter in a later statement. Perhaps Grimm is feeling a little hot under the collar; after all, federal investigators are breathing down his neck and his last few press clippings have not exactly showcased his legislative chops. The timing of the balcony debacle could not have been worse, as Grimm faces re-election this year and now has armed his opponent, Domenic Recchia, with ample ammunition for attack ads.

John King - Make no mistake, the state education commissioner is in the middle of a fight. The Common Core rollout has made him one of the most derided people in the state. This past weekend King took another punch. NYSUT, the state’s largest teachers union, voted overwhelmingly to proclaim they had no confidence in his leadership. Essentially it’s the union’s way of saying we want you fired. Now tension between teachers and the state Education Department is not something new, but when they are calling for your job it’s pretty clear you have lost them.

Joseph Martens - The Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner once again had to throw himself at the mercy of state lawmakers and the press this week when he testified at the annual budget hearing that ultimately ended up being a grill session about hydrofracking, even though it’s not included in the budget. During his day of torture Martens said it was highly unlikely that fracking permits would be issued this year, and was instantly bombarded with criticism from pro-frackers. To top it off, his predecessor at DEC, Pete Grannis, also questioned what was taking so long to make a decision on the controversial natural gas extraction procedure. Some weeks you just can’t win.

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