This week was full of questions: What is the point of high approval ratings? How many ships, bayonets and horses does our country have these days? What is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorite beer? And what will be the focus of his next summit? Fortunately, what we do know this week is that there are, as always, winners and losers.
Preet Bharara – The U.S. Attorney showed once again that he’s unafraid to go after big targets, this time taking on Bank of America and Countrywide, the bank’s mortgage unit, with detailed accusations of a $1 billion mortgage fraud. According to Bharara’s office, Countrywide’s aptly named “Hustle” program pumped increasingly bad loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then refused to repurchase them because of their flaws – allegations the bank denies. Whether or not Bharara continues his string of successes with the case, at least he’s showing that some officials – including state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – are starting to hold big banks accountable for their role in the financial crisis.
KT Lim – The chairman of Genting, a Malaysian conglomerate, already had a pretty good track record before he came to New York City. A year after his Resorts World casino opened in Queens, it’s clear Lim still has the Midas touch. The racetrack casino raked in close to $630 million in revenue over the past year, outpacing other casinos in the region and stealing away their clientele. New York’s high tax rate isn’t so attractive, but Genting’s performance will make it a strong contender for a full-fledged casino license if gambling is legalized here next year.
Sean Patrick Maloney – Rep. Nan Hayworth is facing a growing threat from the candidacy of Maloney, who is starting to close the gap with the incumbent. Maloney’s camp also must be happy to hear Hayworth having to keep insisting that she was misquoted a year ago when she made the controversial case that hurricane relief would have to be offset by other federal spending cuts – a quote the local newspaper stands by. Maloney’s still behind in the race, but momentum is on his side.
John Paulson – The billionaire hedge fund manager earned universal praise for his record-setting $100 million gift to the Central Park Conservancy. And why shouldn’t he? The donation is believed to be the largest gift to any public park in the country and will sustain the city’s greatest public treasure, particularly the North Woods and landscaping around Merchant’s Gate. He’s worth $12.5 billion, so maybe it’s not the last public gift we’ll see from him.
Bruce Ratner - The Barclays Center developer scored another big victory with the announcement that the New York Islanders would be playing their home games at his arena beginning in 2015. While Islanders owner Charles Wang has taken some flak for moving the team from Long Island, Ratner reaps all of the PR benefits for bolstering the city’s sports rivalries. Though the Nets and Islanders doesn’t yet have the cachet of their crosstown rivals, the addition of a competitive rivalry in longtime Knicks/Rangers territory means that, at the very least, Jim Dolan is seething. Double victory.
Albert Baldeo – It’s definitely a step down to go from a City Council candidate that few people had heard of to an alleged felon that everyone has read about. The U.S. Attorney’s office indicted the Queens district leader this week on charges that he illegally funneled campaign donations and intimidated donors who spoke with federal investigators. He surrendered to the FBI, faces four counts of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and obstruction of justice, and could see up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He should hope he has a good lawyer.
Ed Mangano – Not everyone is happy to see the New York Islanders hockey team escape to the brighter lights of Brooklyn. The Nassau County executive had tried to find a way to finance a new stadium, but voters weren’t having it. And that’s just the least of Mangano’s problems: Nassau County has been struggling financially for months, and just this week Moody’s lowered its rating on the county’s bonds for the second time since Mangano took office three years ago.
Donald Trump – The Donald made a dramatic attempt to inject himself into the presidential race by promising an Obama October surprise and got nationwide attention for his efforts. It didn’t work out the way he intended. Trump was roundly castigated for demanding the President’s school records and passport documents when Vegas was expecting the tycoon to reveal divorce papers, a bombshell endorsement or even proof that Obama is an alien. Instead, the Daily News called Trump a clown for the press stunt and scores of bloggers followed suit.
Keith Wright – The Harlem Assemblyman and co-chairman of the state Democratic Party is the latest politician to have to pony up some serious cash for hanging campaign posters on city property. The city slammed Wright with 760 violations dating back at least six years, resulting in a $224,410 fine. Adding insult to injury, Wright’s fines would have been much lower had he shown up to contest the charges in the first place. Wright called the fines “unconstitutional,” but we call over 700 violations unconscionable.
Dennis Walcott – New York City’s schools chancellor took one on the chin this week when it was discovered that his department “lost track” of three employees but still paid out their salaries. Ignoring the obvious question of how a city agency loses track of its own employees, to top it off two of the employees were part of the Absent Teacher Reserve—teachers that were removed from regular classrooms but still receive paychecks. This certainly does not help the perception that the DOE pampers its employees.