This week was a mixed bag for many politicians: Gov. Andrew Cuomo got blasted as a “supposedly Democratic governor” but his centrist approach may yet position him well on the national stage in 2016; Council Speaker Christine Quinn is still leading the mayoral polls, but she’s taking flak for a redistricting plan that might not be so independent; and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer “stepped up” from the mayoral race to the comptroller race, upsetting the plans of folks like Councilman Domenic Recchia. As always, we’ve sorted out who’s on top and who’s on the bottom. So grab that leftover turkey sandwich, kick back and enjoy our latest list of the week’s winners and losers.
Hugh Farley – Not that we’re endorsing double-dipping, but it sure seems like a pretty good deal for the GOP state senator. Farley just retired, at least technically, which lets him collect a pension of $52,000 a year even though he’ll be back in office in January. That’s in addition to a nearly $80,000 salary, plus $15,000 for chairing the banks committee. Of course, it’s not fun to have the financial arrangement printed in the Albany Times Union, but Farley argued that it makes sense because it’s the only way his wife will get the money if he dies in office.
Edward Hennessey – The former Brookhaven town board member pulled off a long-shot victory over Republican incumbent Dean Murray, stealing away Murray’s Long Island Assembly seat after a lengthy recount. Not only did Hennessey flip a 36-vote deficit into a 200-vote advantage, but he did so while spending almost no money on his campaign and not even claiming residency in his new district. Hennessey redefined the term “grassroots campaign,” as he didn’t even raise enough money to file a campaign finance report and his campaign literature consisted of nothing more than his resume. He clearly owes a big one to Sandy and presidential election turnout.
Vito Lopez – He’s down, but he sure ain’t out. Lopez demonstrated once again this week that as wounded as he is, he still wields significant power not just in Brooklyn, but in City Hall. That Christine Quinn and her cohorts would subject themselves to the all-but-certain scorn of the press and her opponents for seemingly drawing the lines to accommodate Lopez’s contemplated run for the City Council demonstrates just how much Quinn wants, or perhaps needs, Lopez’s support in her quest for the mayoralty.
Martha Robertson – Out of work? A good place to start looking might be Tompkins County, home of Cornell University. Tompkins County is governed by a 15-member legislature (including rising star Nate Shinagawa), of which Robertson has been the chair since January 2010. Last month, Tompkins topped all of New York’s 62 counties with the lowest unemployment rate—5.8 percent—considerably better than the statewide average of 8 percent and leagues ahead of the lowly Bronx, which came in at 12.5 percent. We’re not exactly sure what Robertson & Co. are doing right, but in these troubled economic times it behooves the rest of the state to find out.
Mark Suben – Suben, the Cortland County district attorney, gave some typical mea culpas after admitting his ’70s porn star past, saying he was embarrassed and showed “poor judgment.” But as far as dark secrets go, it could be worse than being a porn star during the height of the industry’s ubiquity. Most politicians get caught paying for sex or having extramarital affairs, but Suben one-upped the pack by not only doing it legally (and well before he ran for public office), but by starring in the immortal Deep Throat 2. To top it off, Suben (or should we say “Gus Thomas”?) now has a perfectly legitimate excuse for keeping his porn mustache because, well, it is a porn mustache. Just own it, buddy.
Sandy Annabi and Zehy Jereis – Was it love or corruption? Annabi, a former Yonkers councilwoman, was sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes from Jereis, who got four years for his involvement in a corruption case involving a Forest City Ratner housing development in Yonkers. Jereis, a Republican operative, said the nearly $200,000 in payments to Annabi, a Democrat, were an expression of his love for her, but the judge didn’t buy it. Prosecutors said Annabi got the money for dropping her opposition to the development.
Thomas DiNapoli – Chevron’s complaint to JCOPE this week that DiNapoli improperly accepted donations from environmentalists in conjunction with the oil company’s ongoing legal fight in Ecuador doesn’t seem to amount to much yet – and perhaps never will – but it is never good for an elected official to have his name dragged through the tabloids in stories that allege ethics violations. And it’s all the worse for the comptroller that those charges came less than a week after his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, was paroled from jail for actually engaging in pay-to-play.
Brad Gill – The executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association isn’t too thrilled about yet another delay in the state’s review of hydraulic fracturing, which the group has already been waiting on for years. The governor, who just set up a panel of health experts to review the natural gas drilling procedure, said there’s no way to make the Nov. 19 deadline. The IOGA said its member companies are past the tipping point, and “our trust in our state government now exhausted.”
Carl Hum – Hum, the head of the City Council Districting Commission, took some considerable heat this week for the final redistricting map, with Council members and advocacy groups complaining that the commission did not heed the concerns of local communities. But Hum makes this list for tweaking district boundaries in Brooklyn to appease beleaguered Assemblyman Vito Lopez and set the wheels in motion for Lopez’s potential City Council run. A spokesperson for the commission admitted in a report that Councilman Erik Dilan, a Lopez ally, encouraged the boundary changes in a private conversation with Hum, sparking an outcry from elected officials. Backroom deals are never a good look for a city official, especially when they involve a discredited figure like Lopez.
Scott Stringer – Team Stringer tried to turn lemons into lemonade this week by spinning the BP’s withdrawal from the mayor’s race into clear frontrunner status in the contest for comptroller, but that doesn’t obscure the fact that after swearing up and down for a year that he would be in it until the end, Stringer was forced to finally accept his anemic poll numbers and acknowledge that the people of New York City, other than ScarJo, weren’t hankering for him to move into Gracie Mansion. And though Stringer negotiated himself a slew of prominent new supporters in withdrawing from the main event, he is far from having the undercard locked up, with already announced candidate Councilman Dan Garodnick refusing to blink, and Council finance chair Dominic Recchia still waiting in the wings for a possible run.
Tags: Brad Gill, Carl Hum, chevron, Christine Quinn, Corland County, dan-garodnick, Deep Throat 2, Dominic Recchia, Edward Hennessey, Erik Dilan, Forest City Ratner, hugh-farley, Independen, JCOPE, Mark Suben, Martha Robertson, Nate Shinegawa, Sandy Annabi, Scott Stringer, Thomas DiNapoli, Tompkins County, Vito Lopez, Zehy Jereis