The weather has begun to cool down, and apparently so has the political activity. The federal government continues its shutdown; the New York City mayoral race is snoozing along; even hurricane season seems to be passing us by this year (keep your fingers crossed on that one). Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to steal some headlines on his way out the door, hosting a summit with global leaders and mailing a big check across the Hudson to Cory Booker. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is forced to deflect questions about his reported meddling with the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. But seriously, let’s pick it up, people! Slow news weeks are no fun.
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Rob Astorino – Westchester County has lovely foliage this time of year – but you’ll find Rob Astorino parked squarely under the money tree. The county executive has raised $1.4 million for his re-election campaign and could spend nearly $2 million by the time it’s all over with. His rival, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, has spent just over $400,000, but has little left in the bank, which means Astorino could flood Hudson-area TV markets with a barrage of ads just as people stop gazing at the fall colors and start paying attention to the election again.
Angie Carpenter – The Suffolk County treasurer won a stay of execution this week when the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found that Suffolk officials violated county rules when they adopted a referendum to merge her office with the county comptroller. Carpenter filed the lawsuit to block the referendum, and the decision reportedly infuriated County Executive Steve Bellone, who Carpenter challenged unsuccessfully in 2011. The ruling effectively scuttles Bellone’s plans to streamline the county government, and will make for some especially awkward intra-government relations between the executive and treasurer offices.
Donna Frescatore – The state’s brand new health exchange got off to an inauspicious start when the high volume of visitors to the website caused it to crash and stalled the enrollment period. But technical difficulties notwithstanding, Frescatore’s health exchange has already signed up 40,000 New Yorkers, the highest number of any state in the country. With the federal government shut down in part because of anger over Obamacare, it’s a good sign for all of us that the state has proven more than competent in implementing the president’s signature domestic initiative.
Dan Maffei – He’s ‘Cuse-ing! The Syracuse congressman may only have token opposition next year now that both former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and Robert Antonacci ruled out launching a bid for his seat. If Republicans can’t get Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney to change her mind, Maffei seems likely to crush anyone in his path in what could be a challenging year for Democrats.
Janet Yellen – For the first time since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, a woman has been nominated to be its chairperson—and she’s from Brooklyn! If the Fort Hamilton High grad is confirmed as the world’s most influential economist, she will shatter the glass ceiling in a male-dominated field, and become an instant rock star in the financial arena. While her every decision as Fed chair will be subjected to intense scrutiny and strident second-guessing, regardless of how Yellen does in the position on her very first day on the job she will have made history.
Xingwu Pan and Jia Hou – While City Comptroller John Liu attended galas and parties across the city, two of his top campaign aides received prison sentences this week for their roles in a straw donor fundraising scandal to boost Liu’s mayoral campaign. Both defendants asked for no jail time – instead they got four and 10 months respectively. After Hou and Pan’s sentencing, Liu fired some potshots against the Feds on their behalf, and with good reason–after all, their conviction helped torpedo his mayoral campaign.
Steven Richards – It goes without say that you’re a strong candidate for the losers’ list any time you wind up the subject of a press release from the Attorney General announcing your arrest. That was the case for Town of Niagara Supervisor Steve Richards this week when the State AG Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli unveiled a 28-count indictment of the longtime incumbent supervisor. Among the allegations against Richards, who pleaded not guilty, are that he stole paint, a drill and a drain cleaner from the town. Don’t they have a Home Depot in Niagara?
Dean Skelos – Dean has a lot on his plate these days. He has to keep his dwindling membership happy. He has to appease the Tea Party factions of his party upstate who thinks he sold them out on the gun bill. And he has to work with Jeff Klein and his coalition of Democrats with whom he has little in common politically. He should not have to worry about shoring up Republican support on Long Island too, but state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional bid has given Senate Democrats their best chance for a pickup on the Island in years. Maybe he better let Cathy Young handle this one.
James Walsh and Douglas Kellner – The State Board of Elections lashed out at Brooklyn attorney Eric Snyder this week for his lawsuit alleging that the language of the gaming amendment was biased in favor of its passage, howling that Snyder’s failure to meet the 14-day deadline for filing his objection was “inexcusable” and threatened to “disenfranchise” voters in the military. The only problem with the BoE’s indignation was that the wording of the referendum wasn’t even posted on the board’s website until two weeks after the deadline to sue had passed. While the BoE insists the language was accessible if requested, the glowing wording of the amendment, which promises jobs, increased school aid and property tax relief, has drawn criticism from good government groups who denounce the board’s process as “rigged.”
David Yassky – Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Yassky just can’t seem to get their plan for a uniform fleet of taxis off the ground. First, Comptroller John Liu twice rejected the city’s contract with Nissan, the maker of the taxi model, on largely symbolic grounds. Then this week, a state Supreme Court judge ruled that the city exceeded its authority in requiring that nearly all yellow taxi operators purchase the same vehicle. At this rate, with a new mayor coming in, the plan may not ever get off the ground. We’re guessing when they dubbed the plan “Taxi of Tomorrow”, they meant tomorrow as in the future, not “at some point after numerous court challenges.”
Tags: Angie Carpenter, Ann Marie Buerkle, Dan Maffei, David Yassky, Dean Skelos, Donna Frescatore, Douglas Kellner, Eric Snyder, James Walsh, Janet Yellen, Jia Hou, Joanie Mahoney, John Liu, Michael Bloomberg, Noam Bramson, Rob Astorino, Robert Antonacci, Steve Bellone, Steven Richards, Taxi of Tomorrow, Xingwu Pan