Have the Republicans in Congress gone off the rails? Are the Democrats unreasonably refusing to compromise? Is it all President Obama’s fault? The government shutdown this week yielded so many winners and losers—or maybe they’re all losers—we’ve left them out of our rundown of victors and the vanquished. After all, who really pays the price for Washington’s fiscal insanity? You, us and 317 million other Americans.
Can’t get enough of our Winners and Losers? Tune in to the “The Capitol Pressroom” with Susan Arbetter each Friday at 11:05 a.m. to hear about our weekly picks.
David Frankel – Too bad for New York City that its able finance commissioner is moving on. Over the past two years Frankel and his team in the Department of Finance cracked down on tax cheats, saving the city $72.8 million. A big chunk of those savings came from targeting organizations that no longer qualified as nonprofits but were benefiting from the tax-exempt status anyway. It looks like Frankel, who is taking the reins at the troubled Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in the wake of embezzlement allegations against former head William Rapfogel, is the right man to put the charity’s fiscal affairs in order.
Letitia James – Meet New York City’s next public advocate. Despite running a campaign that seemed to take a long time to get off the ground, James trounced her opponent Daniel Squadron in Tuesday’s runoff to the tune of a 20-point victory. Tish owes a big thanks to her friends in organized labor and the Working Families Party for their get-out-the-vote operation in what was an incredibly low-turnout election, as well as Squadron for his embarrassing robocall gaffe, but give her credit for having a more compelling message to connect with voters. She will also add some much-needed diversity to city leadership as she is virtually assured of becoming the first woman of color to hold citywide elected office in NYC.
George Pataki – The former governor was just as surprised as we were. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo often goes with the usual suspects to head up and fill out his many task forces and commissions, this week he reached across the aisle and back in history to pick Pataki as co-chair of his tax-cutting commission. The selection of Pataki, who knocked Andrew’s dad out of office, could help Cuomo with upstate voters when he runs for re-election next years—but it also puts Pataki back in the limelight, where he hasn’t been in years.
Mark Weprin, Dan Garodnick and Jimmy Vacca – Had Daniel Squadron prevailed in the runoff for New York City public advocate this week, the conventional wisdom was that Garodnick, Vacca and Weprin would have been out of luck in the race for Council Speaker; white men winning all three of the citywide elected offices, it would have looked terrible in a majority-minority city for the only other top job to go to yet another white dude. Fortunately for this trio, Tish James’ runoff win virtually assures that she will become the first woman of color elected citywide in New York City. As a result they didn’t just escape elimination, they moved to the front of the class as viable contenders in the estimation of many pundits—for what that’s worth.
Working Families Party – It’s been a gangbuster few weeks for the WFP, with the party’s old friend Bill de Blasio looking like he will cruise into office as mayor, big wins in City Council races, and then topping off their success with Letitia James, the first council member elected solely on the WFP line, winning the Democratic contest for public advocate, making her a shoo-in to win the general election. In a relatively short amount of time, the party has become a flagship for progressive candidates and policies as well as organized labor’s political voice. Now we will see what it does in power.
Andrew Cuomo – Look, we all know the governor has a tendency to be, shall we say … heavy-handed in his leadership style, but meddling with a supposedly independent anti-corruption commission that he put together is a tough pill to swallow. A news report this week had Cuomo killing a subpoena of the state Democratic Party’s housekeeping account—yes, the party that he runs—yet another clear example of the commission hitting a little too close to home. News like this is a blow to Cuomo’s reform credentials, and his posturing as the sheriff coming in to clean up Albany looks silly if he won’t let the commission police his own backyard.
Scott Levenson – Levenson’s consulting firm, The Advance Group, appears to have found a sure-fire way to come out on top in campaigns: secretly represent both sides! That’s what seems to have happened in the race for New York City Council between Yetta Kurland and Corey Johnson. On one hand, The Advance Group was getting paid to run an independent expenditure for the animal rights group NYCLASS supporting Kurland; on the other it appears to have been promoting Johnson’s candidacy through an IE paid for by the UFT via a company called Strategic Consultants—apparently a dummy shell corporation set up to obscure the Advance Group’s double-dealing. With consultants like that …
Joe Lhota – The Republican candidate for mayor of New York City entered the general election campaign season as a long-shot, trailing Public Advocate Bill de Blasio by 40 points or more in the polls. Not to worry, Joe said, for he would gain ground once the public heard him out—and historically, it seemed likely that the gap could only close as people got to know more about him. But with a huge 50-point gap in the latest poll, what’s Lhota to do? Sure, polls go up and polls go down, but with a month to go in the election, de Blasio would have to completely implode for the GOP’s guy to have a chance.
Daniel Squadron – It’s one thing to lose—that generally happens to even the greatest politicians at some point in their careers—it’s quite another to go down in flames while pouring gasoline on yourself in the process. That’s just what state Sen. Daniel Squadron did. Before an anonymous robocall went out over the weekend ripping into Letitia James—Squadron’s opponent in the runoff for public advocate—he was seen as one of the brightest rising stars in city politics—win or lose this election. Then Squadron went on “Road To City Hall” on Monday, and proceeded to contort himself into rhetorical knots trying to evade Errol Louis’ simple question whether his campaign was behind the dirty trick. Not only was it obvious that Squadron was lying, but his performance was so stomach-turning that it is hard to believe any opponent Squadron faces moving forward won’t just roll the tape of his appearance on repeat to discredit anything he says.
John Whalen – Binghamton’s former director of Parks & Recreation seems to have misunderstood the name of the department he ran—it turns out he was parking the city’s cash in his own bank account and using it for his own recreational pursuits. The state comptroller this week revealed that Whalen had pilfered some $108,000, spending it on a summer home, a car lease and loans for his sons. At least the 72-year-old Whalen, who pleaded not guilty in court, was responsible enough to use some of the stolen funds to help pay down his mortgage.
Tags: Advance Group, Andrew Cuomo, Bill De Blasio, Corey Johnson, dan-garodnick, Daniel Squadron, david frankel, Errol Louis, George Pataki, Jimmy Vacca, joe lhota, John Whalen, Letitia James, mark weprin, NYCLASS, Scott Levenson, UFT, William Rapfogel, Working Families Party, yetta kurland