As legislators scrambled to get their bills passed with the session coming to a close this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo saw his marijuana legislation go up in smoke, reviving questions about a second-year slump, but sealed a deal on teacher evaluations with the strategic mastery politicos have come to expect from the governor. So with mixed results for Cuomo, we looked elsewhere across the city and state for this week’s winners and losers.
Peter Rivera – When Gov. Cuomo nominated the assemblyman a few months ago to take over as commissioner of the Labor Department, Rivera indicated that it was a hard sell and said that the governor had to convince him to leave. But he’s following a well-worn path to Cuomo-land, a haven for Assembly refugees. And with Rivera’s ties to a troubled Bronx nonprofit, whose executive director was just convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice, the assemblyman may have decided that it was time to go.
Richard Iannuzzi – The Legislature’s passage of a bill to limit disclosure of teacher evaluations was a rare win for the NYSUT president, who has found himself a political punching bag for months as the national political discourse turned toward talk of taming the unions. But Senate Republicans gambled this week on siding with NYSUT over Mayor Michael Bloomberg, both party benefactors, despite Bloomberg’s largesse toward the conference and disapproval of the bill. Iannuzzi, unlike Bloomberg, isn’t a lame duck.
Preet Bharara – We weren’t keeping track with an abacus or anything, but we’re sort of stunned to realize the Southern District U.S. Attorney had notched 60 convictions in insider trading cases over his term in office, including his conviction last week of former Goldman Sachs board member and McKinsey & Co. head Rajat Gupta, a case that had news outlets pondering whether he’d replace Eric Holder as Attorney General or whether he might be the next Eliot Ness. In the middle of it, Bharara took time out to seek the safe return to Mongolia of a dinosaur skeleton, showing there’s no case too big, or too prehistoric, for him to tackle.
Clyde Williams – Prior to Saturday, former DNC political director Clyde Williams’ campaign for Congress was largely ignored, as the media reduced the five-candidate field in NY-13 to Rangel vs. Espaillat. Then came the Times endorsement and a glowing follow-up profile by the Grey Lady. The next day the Daily News added their nod. All this ink might end up being too little too late for Williams, but his campaign couldn’t have hoped for a better final stretch before Tuesday’s primary.
Bob Turner – Turner’s Senate campaign again showed its mastery at pulling off publicity stunts. The same team that engineered last summer’s defeat of David Weprin brought Turner to south Brooklyn this week to sing God Bless the U.S.A. with a bunch of kindergartners, in protest of reports that the kids were being forced to sing Justin Bieber at a graduation ceremony instead of the patriotic song. But the protest turned ugly as the kids were heckled by adults – and when the whole thing was caught on video, Fox News and other conservative media outlets had a fit. Then, Turner blamed the whole thing on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who he may face this fall. In an otherwise low-interest Senate race, Turner found a way to get himself noticed by conservatives.
George Maragos - The GOP candidate for U.S. Senate tried to spin his decision to pay himself back $795,000 of the money he lent his largely self-financed campaign as savvy fiscal management, but it was hard to construe the six-figure withdrawal, which was disclosed in a late filing, as anything other than a tacit admission that his campaign is a sinking ship. Candidates who believe they are going to win pour every last cent they have into the final days of a tight race. Soon-to-be losers, well, they do what Maragos did.
Michael Grimm – The Staten Island congressman is celebrating “Take Your Dog To Work Day” today with his Yorkshire Terrier, Sebastian, but what’s really dogging him these days is the FBI’s investigation into his campaign fundraising. His most recent campaign disclosures listed hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees – far more than he brought in during the same period – and several people on his campaign subsequently said the FBI had been asking questions about 2010 campaign donations and who collected them. A “ruff” time, indeed.
Nick Spano – Some tax cheats do pay the price, it turns out. Once one of the state’s most influential lawmakers, Spano this week was sentenced to a prison term for failing to pay $53,000 in taxes, though the year and a day he’ll spend behind bars is at least somewhat less than the 18 months the prosecutor asked for. He’ll also get to enjoy his freedom through Independence Day – when he’ll perhaps ponder his betrayal of the public trust and the black mark he brought to Westchester’s powerful Spano family – before being locked up on July 9.
Yossi Gestetner - Gestetner resigned his new job as director of Jewish outreach for the state GOP this week after reports surfaced of his past work for an anti-Zionist group and defense of accused sex offenders. That wasn’t exactly convenient for the state GOP, which is trying to make inroads into Brooklyn’s Orthodox community, though the whole thing did seem a slight bit unfair. A well-known Jewish blogger, Gestetner blamed the whole thing on his past, negative writings about Senate candidate Simcha Felder.
Larry Seabrook - What could be worse than facing a corruption trial? Answer: facing your second corruption trial, on the same charges, after having the first one declared a mistrial. No matter what the verdict in the City Councilman’s second case, and despite what, if any, good he’s done as a lawmaker, he won’t be able to shed the ignominy of his doctored receipt charging New York taxpayers $177 for a $7 Snapple and a bagel. That’s a pretty harsh sentence all on its own.
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