Winners and Losers 3/28/14
Winners and Losers 3/28/14
With the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo set to finalize the state budget this week, it seems that New York's winter of discontent will officially come to an end. Mayor Bill de Blasio will no longer have to beg for pre-K money, the blitz of charter school advertisements will fade into the ether, and the fiery advocacy from aggrieved parties across the state will, for a time, cool down. The weather is (allegedly) getting warmer, another election season is around the corner, and a renewed conversation about government ethics (thank you Assemblyman Scarborough) looks like it will make its way back to the forefront. With that, we have this week’s Winners & Losers.
The Arroyos - Carmen Arroyo and Maria del Carmen Arroyo – It certainly seems like a whole lot of people connected to the mother-daughter duo of Bronx elected officials wind up in trouble with the law, but nothing sticks to the Arroyos. This week Citizens Union took the state Board of Elections to task for dropping an investigation into Assemblywoman Arroyo (a.k.a. “The Teflon Mom”) for a host of election law violations in the 2012 primary. In other Arroyo-related news, three former campaign workers for Councilwoman del Carmen Arroyo were arrested for allegedly forging petition signatures with names like Kate Moss and Derek Jeter to get the councilwoman on the ballot. Congratulations, Arroyos! It looks like justice has sided with you once again. Though, you do have to wonder, when was the last time you heard of signature collectors getting arrested? What kind of plea bargain might they be looking at?
Donna Frescatore - Obamacare has become a dirty word in politics poisoning almost everyone associated with it. But not for Frescatore. As we approach Monday's deadline to sign up for health insurance, New York's health exchange system reports that more than 700,000 New Yorkers have picked a health care plan and more than a million have completed the application process. The numbers are a huge success compared to other states that set up their own systems - and now lawmakers in other parts of the country are looking to New York as a potential model of how to do it the right way.
Tom Golisano - The Rochester billionaire has had his fair share of political flops, from his run for governor to his role in orchaestrating the 2009 state Senate coup. But this week he got some love from the state Legislature when it overwhelmingly backed his newest pet project - a bill that would award electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in a presidential election (assuming enough other states sign on). On top of that improbable victory, the state Senate called for a ban on sales tax for those buying jets or boats. Unclear if Golisano had any role in that giveaway, but he certainly represents the economic demographic that would benefit.
Charles Rangel - Rangel’s allies had been jumping ship faster than passengers on the Titanic when his primary opponent, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, threw his hat in the ring, but the Harlem congressman got a bit of a boost this week when one of the state’s most high-profile politicians pledged her support. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is certainly a bigger name than any of the endorsements Espaillat has received thus far, and demonstrates that Rangel still has establishment support even as his political clout has greatly diminished. Whether Gillibrand’s endorsement will be enough to move votes in Upper Manhattan, however, remains to be seen.
Eric Schneiderman - The Attorney General has not been shy about going after big banks, and this week he earned another set of financial sector stripes with his $25 million settlement with Bank of America and its former CEO Kenneth Lewis. Schneiderman’s office issues a near daily stream of releases announcing settlements, but big money wins at least raise eyebrows half way. And while he was continuing with his usual dealing, Schneiderman also penned an op-ed with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the San Jose Mercury News about how the private sector is helping to keep guns out of the wrong hands while Washington makes little progress on the issue. Growing one's national brand never hurts, especially as speculation persists that one's predecessor might be headed to Washington.
Justin Ginsburgh - To be fair, Ginsburgh has technically resigned from Citi Bike. But he was the general manager up until recently, which means he’s on the hook for the reasons that presumably led to his departure. City officials are getting fed up with the bike share’s Portland, Ore.-based parent company, Alta Bicycle Share. Bike Share NYC officials have reportedly failed to meet monthly performance standards, the program is losing money, and executives want tens of millions to keep it staying afloat. Ginsburgh can rest easier knowing he’s not in charge of a flailing yet still fledgling program. However, if things go further south, he should be ready for his name to resurface to again be shouldered with some of the blame.
Earlene Hooper - Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper blew up at the Daily News' Ken Lovett—not once, but twice—when he approached her to ask a question on the Assembly floor. Maybe she just didn't want to talk about per diems. After all, an Assembly colleague, William Scarborough, had just been questioned by the FBI about potential abuse of the daily payments lawmakers get while they're in Albany, and Hooper has faced similar questions about her per diems in the past. Then again, maybe she was just having a bad day.
Kathy Marchione - In the Capital Region having your name linked with Mindy Wormuth—the former supervisor of Halfmoon, a town just north of Albany—isn’t always a plus. Certainly having your name linked to the ongoing investigation into alleged extortion involving Wormuth is a negative. State Sen. Marchione has come under scrutiny for a land deal she and her husband made with a development company in 2007. To her credit, the state senator immediately acted as if she has nothing to hide, inviting reporters and TV cameras to her home the day the Times Union broke the story about the FBI investigation. But there’s no doubt that those at the Capitol, especially the Senate Republicans, will be keeping close watch over yet another state pol under a cloud of suspicion.
William Scarborough - Having your home and offices raided by the Feds virtually makes you a shoo-in for the Losers list. To be fair, Scarborough hasn’t been charged or arrested—yet—but just the appearance of the probe is another black eye for a Legislature that ran out of eyes that weren’t already bruised a long time ago. Is this latest investigation the foreshadowing of another spree of Albany arrests? All we can predict is that legislators with high per diem reimbursement totals are pouring over their calendars this week trying to nail down alibis for any night unaccounted for by a paper trail.
Sheldon Silver - The state budget was still unresolved as of press time, so in terms of coverage of the Assembly speaker the one story that really stands out this week was the Times' exposé of his decades-long effort to prevent redevelopment of a vacant lot in the Lower East Side, which had long been a Jewish bastion—and Silver apparently wanted to keep it that way. The fact that his partner in the endeavor was the now-disgraced William Rapfogel doesn’t help much, either. Oh, and, Mr. Speaker, about the Moreland Commission being a fishing expedition... with the Feds probing per diems, how many of your members are going to get caught?