Winners and Losers 07/04/14
Winners and Losers 07/04/14
All we had to do to find our winners and losers this week was follow the money, from an $8,000 payment for a sham marriage to an alleged $50K to pad the salary of an influential lawmaker's son to a whopping $2.2 billion windfall for the state from the BNP Paribas deal. And that's before we could even get to the hefty outside incomes reported by influential lawmakers like Shelly Silver. Cha-ching!
Dave Bliss and Mary Ann Sumner - All New Yorkers against hydrofracking won big this week when the state’s highest court upheld the right of local governments to ban the controversial oil drilling practice. But Mary Ann Sumner and Dave Bliss, the supervisors of Dryden and Middlefield, the towns that imposed the bans in the first place, are in perhaps the best position to celebrate. And they didn’t just win environmental bragging rights; since the court stressed that it was not actually ruling on the merits of fracking, but on the rights of municipalities to exercise their own zoning authority, Sumner and Bliss can claim a victory for local governance, too.
Preet Bharara – Just two weeks after the U.S. Attorney suffered a rare embarrassment when a prosecutorial goof let Malcolm Smith slip away—for the time being—with a mistrial, Bharara was back with a vengeance. Last Friday afternoon, he didn’t just indict Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa out of the blue, he got her to plead guilty to multiple crimes and bounced her from the Legislature on her way to prison. Then four days later he dropped the hammer on Tom Libous, the Senate Republicans’ No. 2, hitting him with a charge of making false statements to the FBI. How many electeds does Preet have to take down for these morons to finally realize that breaking the law in his jurisdiction is a very bad idea?
Regina Calcaterra – How do we get Regina Calcaterra’s job? Three months after Gov. Cuomo abruptly shut down the Moreland Commission, Calcaterra is still getting paid $6,700 every two weeks, which comes out to $175,000 a year. “Makes you wonder what she knows,” one Albany insider said to The Daily News’ Ken Lovett, intimating that Calcaterra’s ongoing salary is hush money to keep her from spilling her guts to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara about anything embarrassing—or worse—that she might know about the executive chamber’s meddling with the Commission. While paying for Calcaterra to enjoy an endless summer doesn’t seem like the best use of taxpayer dollars, as long as those checks keep coming Calcaterra can kick back and enjoy the sand.
Ben Lawsky - Newsweek called him the "Man Banks Fear Most" this week after the head of the state Department of Financial Services reached a multi-billion dollar settlement with French superbank BNP Paribas for doing illicit business with Iran, Cuba and other countries. The Wall Street watchdog used the threat of banning the bank from operating in New York to force a guilty plea on federal charges and hand over a whopping $8.9 billion to the U.S., of which New York will receive a very large chunk.
Robert Linn - With Mariano Rivera retired, it looks like Bob Linn is angling to be the best closer in town. Linn was something of an unknown quantity when Mayor de Blasio named him to be the chief labor negotiator in December—a city government veteran who had never been given the chance to stand on his own at the bargaining table. Well, six months in, Linn has already delivered contracts to more than half of the city’s workforce, with the latest being the contract agreement with DC 37, the city’s largest public union, and the details (at least those that the city has provided) suggest he’s been relatively fair to both sides. Time will tell if these contracts end up causing some level of fiscal unrest in the long term, but for now Linn has proven to be a solid hire for the administration.
Bill de Blasio - One of the primary tenets of running a city with as many different agencies as New York is making sure all of your aides and deputies are paddling in the same direction. Evidently, Mayor de Blasio lost track of one of his aides this week when Crain’s revealed that Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen was privately lobbying members of the Rent Guidelines Board to increase rents despite the mayor’s staunch advocacy in public for a rent freeze. Glen’s progressive credentials were always questionable to begin with—her previous job was at Goldman Sachs—and this news will surely rankle advocates who were otherwise encouraged with the mayor’s efforts around housing. Even if it was Glen’s mistake, the behind-the-scenes disconnect gives the appearance that de Blasio is talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to making the city more affordable.
John Haggerty - It was a long shot, but there was some hope for the Republican political operative that the state Court of Appeals would throw out his 2011 grand larceny conviction for pocketing roughly $1 million in cash from Mayor Michael Bloomberg for campaign services. However, after the court's 6-0 decision against him this week, Haggerty's now likely to go back to federal prison to serve out the remainder of his 1 1/2-to-4-year sentence.
Tom Libous - How high can Preet go? The state Senate's No. 2 Republican was indicted this week on charges of lying to the FBI about a job lined up for his son, Matthew, who allegedly had an inflated salary paid in part by a lobbying firm. And Libous is not the only loser here. The younger Libous was also indicted on multiples federal charges. Cuomo, who recently praised the senator's "character," again faces questions about whether he can really clean up Albany. And Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, whose hold on power is increasingly tenuous, certainly does not want voters to be reminded that political corruption is a bipartisan embarrassment.
Gabriela Rosa - When the news broke that the first-term assemblywoman was heading to court a week ago, the expectation was that it would be yet another tale of bribery, self-dealing or even sexual misconduct. But in a perhaps unprecedented case involving an elected official in Albany, she owned up to paying $8,000 for a sham marriage in order to become a U.S. citizen (as well as failing to report income and assets during a bankruptcy). Rosa swore that it all took place before she was elected and asserted that she had not abused her office, but it didn't keep her from being booted from the Assembly.
R. Mark Schulhof - A firm that for years conducted direct-mail fundraising for the Disabled Veterans Foundation, and its CEO R. Mark Schulhof, are finally reaping what they sowed, and just in time for the Fourth of July: Quadriga Art LLC has reached a deal with the New York State Attorney General’s office to pay $10 million in damages over allegations that it engaged in misleading fundraising practices and kept more than 90 percent of the money it raised. With the plight of our veterans as grave as it's ever been, Schulhof is a loser of national proportion.