Not bad week for New York politics, unless you work for Ydanis Rodriguez. We got more Cuomo-vs.-Hillary nonsense, more Ray Kelly for Mayor nonsense, and even some actual news sprinkled in between – like a new city budget, which saves teachers but axes after school programs and firehouses. But before we get dragged into the morass of city budgeting, let’s take a moment to tally the week’s winners and losers.
George Amedore – Sixty-three seats, it is. New York’s highest court ruled the Senate Republicans’ redistricting map wasn’t so extreme as to be unconstitutional, affirming a fundamental element in the GOP’s strategy to hold onto their narrow majority. Other than the party as a whole, one clear winner is Assemblyman Amedore, who plans to run for the new seat, which was seen by many as tailor-made for the wealthy lawmaker.
Pedro Espada – Just when all seemed lost for the flamboyant ex-senator, on trial for allegedly skimming millions from his state-financed health clinic, Espada was buoyed by the news that one juror was refusing to deliberate, making the possibility of a hung jury suddenly very real. A former boxer, Espada immediately went on the offensive, slamming Governor Cuomo for indicting him, and raising the specter of possible patients dying from lack of Medicaid funding. Crooked or not, this is why we miss this guy.
Jason Helgerson – The Medicaid Redesign Team was already a big success last year, helping the governor close a huge budget gap. But the benefits haven’t run out yet, apparently. The savings achieved as a result of the work of the task force, headed by healthcare funding wunderkind Helgerson, exceeded expectations in its first year, coming in $14 million under its cap even as the state added 140,000 people to the Medicaid rolls. Not a bad prognosis.
Christine Quinn – Sure, she ditched a public rally in a snit because someone had the gall (the gall!) to call the mayor “Pharaoh Bloomberg.” But the council speaker was also doubling down on her close relationship with his majesty, which in the context of 2013, is gutsy. What else is gutsy? Saying “vagina” on television, which Quinn did during a press conference urging passage of a state reproductive health bill in Albany. And saving 2,500 teachers from getting fired? Just another day’s work for the most powerful woman in New York City politics.
Chris Ward – Lost amid all the back slapping over 1 World Trade Center’s milestone this week – its now the tallest building in the city – was gratitude to one of the men who made it happen: ex-Port Authority boss Chris Ward. Booted from his job so the governor could install one of his own, Ward was instrumental in transforming Ground Zero into the bustling hub of activity it is today. Not that he needs any thanks. All he has to do to know he did a good job is look up.
Joe Addabbo – Before popular City Councilman Eric Ulrich jumped into a state Senate race in southeast Queens, the common wisdom was the he would stay on the sidelines. It seems Ulrich’s entry even surprised Addabbo, the Democratic incumbent, who it turns out had less than $2,000 in his campaign account. And while Democrats are pledging to support Addabbo, they might not have much extra cash to throw his way. Bake sale anyone?
Joe Bruno – Normally the former Senate majority leader loves nothing more than some good banter with the Albany press corps. Not so on Thursday, when Bruno appeared in court facing a second indictment on charges of corruption and theft of honest services. The federal government flubbed the first trial, and no doubt Bruno’s lawyers will try to make these new charges out to be a case of double jeopardy. But the possibility of 20 years behind bars has already had an effect on the 83-year-old Republican: it’s silenced him.
Charles Hayward – Maybe it wasn’t so inadvertent after all. The president and CEO of the New York Racing Association was suspended this week after conflicting accounts emerged regarding bettor payouts that were lower than required. A NYRA spokesman described the failure as “unintentional” last year, but an email from Hayward indicated that he knew about the problem but that “political forces intervened.” Now, it seems, legal forces may intervene. What are the odds on a conviction?
Ydanis Rodriguez – So that was weird. The upper Manhattan councilman fired his spokesman David Segal after reading in the Post about Segal’s firebug past, rehired him after the speaker’s office “advised” him to fix the situation and avoid any embarrassing lawsuits, and then inexplicably fired him again several hours later. Now Rodriguez is facing a possible lawsuit and the ugly glare of the media for his odd behavior, all during a week when Occupy Wall Street, Rodriguez’s favorite protesters, were making a comeback. Rodriguez may want to stage another arrest just to distract attention from his kooky inter-office politics. But who knows? Maybe Segal will have his job back when he wakes up today.
Larry Seabrook – Powerful and well-connected New York City Council members get the big bucks, the weaker members get smaller dollars – and poor Larry Seabrook gets absolutely no pork at all. Council Speaker Quinn did an about-face on the issue, ruling that the Bronx Councilman, who will be facing another federal fraud trial, would no longer get any discretionary funds under her watch. Maybe vegetarianism is the way to go.
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