Winners & Losers 11/13/15
The jokes were flying at this week’s Al Smith dinner, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio the butt of some hilarious cracks including Michael Bloomberg’s comparison of the two power brokers to pop stars Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. We hope our winners and losers list doesn’t create any bad blood.
Michael Bloomberg - The former mayor’s ribs at an annual charity dinner were so entertaining they elicited praise from a man who owes at least part of his campaign’s success and current career to ragging on Bloomberg: Bill de Blasio. The current mayor was so enamored with Bloomberg’s performance that he returned to a scrum of reporters after a press briefing and responded to a question about Bloomberg’s roast, calling the performance "first rate."
Andrew Cuomo - It’s like a parallel universe. CSEA is sending out press statements praising the governor and the federal government is giving the state money for transportation. Cuomo’s decision to raise the minimum wage for state employees to $15 an hour isn’t going to improve the lives of many, especially since the pay bump doesn’t take effect until 2018, but the political optics of at least partially mending fences with a labor union that hated him four years ago helped make him a winner this week, along with the generous deal from the federal government promising to pay 50 percent of Gateway tunnel connecting the Northeast corridor.
Jason Helgerson - Governing magazine is not Time or Newsweek, but for politicos it is well known. So for Helgerson to be named one of their “outstanding leaders in state and local government” - one of nine across the country - he has earned some serious street cred. The state Medicaid director has reduced spending per patient and overall spending in the state’s program since being brought on by Cuomo in 2011. It has to be nice to be recognized for that work.
Eric Ulrich - The New York City councilman celebrated Veterans Day with a victory. After more than a year of pushing legislation to create a Department of Veterans Services, the mayor dropped his objections and agreed. Ulrich got to savor this over cannolis before the Council unanimously passed his bill.
Cyrus Vance – The Manhattan District Attorney’s office unsealed indictments this week charging 44 people at nine companies with engaging in corrupt practices in a scam where they would oversell heating oil, often to public and nonprofit institutions like homeless shelters, hospitals and police precincts. It has long been an open secret of the industry and while many public officials have promised to tighten up on the companies, little has come from the bluster. That changed this week with Vance’s office brought the hammer down, claiming the accused have stolen and resold $34 million worth of oil. It was a nice racket while it lasted, but we bet companies will think twice before using magnets to trick the meter again.
Nigel Eccles & Jason Robins - Tired of their incessant commercials during football games? Well these two competitors are going to get pretty tired from a brewing legal battle after Schneiderman declared such daily fantasy sports illegal under state law. As if potentially losing 13 percent of their players wasn’t enough, the companies are fighting legal challenges in other states too. At this rate, Eccles and Robins might end up having a worse season than Geno Smith.
Ron Kim - He can defend it all he wants, but it’s still a pretty bad look for the Flushing Assemblyman to switch positions on a law he helped pass when the only thing that has seemed to change his thinking has been the fact that he received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from nail salon owners upset with the bill he backed. Hey, sometimes you gotta do some crazy things to get your name in the press - chances to publicly fight crime don’t happen every day.
Andy King - A lot of elected officials have issues with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, but most aren’t smacked with a $10k fine for converting campaign funds into personal use. Luckily for the councilman, he doesn’t have to run for reelection until 2017.
Joyce Mitchell - What’s worse than going to jail? Going to jail and paying the state that’s sending you there $79,841. The former prison worker was fined nearly $80,000 for providing the tools two murders used this past summer to escape from Clinton Correction Facility. Hopefully her interest rate isn’t too high, since it’ll be hard to pay that off during the 2 1/3 to seven years she’ll spend in prison.
Malcolm Smith - Contrary to Smith’s suggestions, some see serving prison time as one of those things you have to learn on the fly. U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas rejected the former state Senate leader’s bids to delay his seven-year sentence because of legal questions raised by his appeal - or because Smith sought to attend a seminar on life behind bars. Smith ultimately surrendered himself to a facility in rural Pennsylvania.