Winners and Losers 07/11/14

Winners and Losers 07/11/14

Winners and Losers
July 10, 2014

It’s summertime in New York, and for some people living is indeed getting easier. Gov. Cuomo has a 35-point lead over Rob Astorino in the latest poll; undocumented immigrants now have a municipal ID program; even pot smokers in Brooklyn don’t have to worry about getting prosecuted. On the other hand, Kathy Hochul may have eased up a bit too much, taking some heat for her scarce public appearances before popping up like Waldo on social media in various neighborhoods of New York City. In the spirit of the season, kick back, relax and enjoy this week’s Winners and Losers.

 

WINNERS

Tony Avella and Jeff Klein - It looks like the Independent Democratic Conference’s tentative reconciliation with the mainline Senate Democrats is paying off, even if these two IDCers are still facing pesky primary challenges. Klein, the leader of the IDC, has racked up endorsements from Mayor Bill de Blasio, 32BJ and several other unions, and he’s getting plenty of local support too, boasting 9,000 petition signatures. Avella, who will have to beat a tough foe in former New York City comptroller John Liu, also won de Blasio’s backing this week, while several other key players like 32BJ, the WFP are staying neutral, to Avella's benefit.

Daniel Isaacs – While almost taking a bribe kind of sounds like being half pregnant, the fact that it dawned on Isaacs that maybe the envelope full of cash he was about to pocket was not actually payment for legitimate legal work apparently saved the Manhattan Republican Party chair from being ensnared in the sting that caught former Councilman Dan Halloran, among others. Honorable mention goes to one of Halloran’s alleged co-conspirators, disgraced ex-Bronx GOP leader Jay Savino, who despite his November guilty plea to corruption charges has landed a new job—cleaning bathrooms in a restaurant owned by his mother-in-law—which is probably a far less dirty gig than being a Republican chair in New York City.

Melinda Katz – It's hard to make headlines as a borough president, but Katz was able to do just that this week when she announced that the city would spend about $6 million to restore the Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a major priority of the beep's. The renovations may seem like not too big of a deal, but the state of disrepair of the buildings is something Queens residents have been talking about for years, and the fact that the city is finally ponying up to do something about it came as a pleasant surprise.

Carlos Menchaca - This week Mayor Bill de Blasio signed New York City’s municipal ID card program into law—the culmination of a successful push spearheaded by freshman Councilman Carlos Menchaca. The bill, which proponents say will enhance the lives of undocumented immigrants, the homeless and transgender people, among others, enjoyed widespread support in the Council, the mayor’s office, and from a variety of interest groups. And though the New York Civil Liberties Union issued a blistering critique of the measure, arguing that it fails to protect against the possibility of law enforcement using cardholders’ personal information against them, the victory is a legislative one for which Menchaca can take signiificant credit.

Scott Stringer - With the launch of ClaimStat this week, a database that tracks personal claims filed against New York City, Stringer accomplished several goals: saving money and reforming agency practices, while also furthering the city’s transparency aspirations. From a policy perspective, Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer could not be more opposite; to use a baseball analogy, Stringer is the steady, disciplined singles hitter, de Blasio the free-swinging power hitter. But whereas de Blasio has had his share of swings and misses to go along with his home runs, Stringer has yet to hit a slump as we move into the second half of Year One. 

 

LOSERS 

Rob Astorino - It's hard to spin being 35 points down in a public poll. No, it's impossible to spin it. At least, Astorino has 5 months until Election Day. 

Ted Blazer - The longtime president and CEO of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority got some bad news this week when a state comptroller audit turned up a number of serious fiscal problems under Blazer’s watch. Cash shortages were covered with loans and outside contributions, a line of credit was used for basic operating costs and, in some cases, other agencies paid ORDA’s bills. Then again, when you’re losing more than $4 million in just three years, we guess the only option is to go for the taxpayers' gold.

John Cahill - Republican Attorney General nominee John Cahill stands accused of putting his foot in it after his campaign announced he would join the GOP gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino’s push for a “Stop Common Core” ballot line, just a week after saying he saw “positive things” in the new academic testing standards. Granted, Cahill also warned the rollout posed “serious challenges,” but as he himself indicated, the rollout and the standards themselves are not one and the same. And considering that the attorney general’s office is not traditionally involved with education policy, he probably never needed to delve into the topic in the first place. 

Carmen Fariña - Fariña and the Department of Education were hit with some bad press this week, following a negative comptroller audit on school overcrowding and an unrelated story on the agency hemorrhaging staff. While the latter could simply be normal first year turnover, the former got enough attention to put Mayor de Blasio on the defensive at a press conference Thursday. It is extremely difficult for any schools chancellor to take the helm at an agency as complex as DOE and immediately change course, so one could argue that Fariña is simply the latest victim of an intensely bureaucratic system, however, overcrowding is a serious problem experts and advocates have been hammering away at for years, and the short shrift it has gotten from Tweed so far is troubling.

Kathy Hochul -  The New York Post wrote this week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, to be “kept under wraps” because of her conservative stances on gun ownership and immigration rights. The story focused the media’s attention on Hochul’s dearth of public appearances and spurred Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to make the joke: “Which will be found first: the Malaysian Airlines or Kathy Hochul on the campaign trail?” Cuomo has not been stumping himself, so one could argue the claim was unfounded … but on Wednesday Hochul agreed to do her first TV interview of the campaign next week, indicating the claim may have struck a nerve.

 

 

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