This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who’s up and who’s down this week?
August 29, 2019

Who was this week's biggest Winner?

These days, everybody who’s anybody has someone compiling a dossier on them. Since the Cuomo’s administration infamous catalogue of Liz Benjamin’s “generally snarky” blog posts was exposed in 2012, dossiers have become all the rage. There’s one on Donald Trump you might have heard of. In New York City, then-DOI Commissioner Mark Peters and still-City Councilman Barry Grodenchik each had one. New York Times reporters? Amazon HQ2 opponents? Check and check. And while it’s not exactly a dossier with top-secret details, there’s some juicy intel in this week’s Winners & Losers list.

Winners: 
William Barclay & Thomas O’Mara

Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? When Assemblyman William Barclay and state Sen. Thomas O’Mara were told their state legislative pay raises hinged on giving up most of their outside income, the pair of lawmakers said no way and took the case to court. Now, a judge has ruled that they can keep their side gigs and get a $50,000 raise. Score! The decision conflicts with one in a different lawsuit from earlier in the summer, so Barclay and O’Mara still have to wait and see if their win holds up in Appellate Court.

MaryEllen Elia

The state's education commissioner got a graduation gift: a boost in New York students' test scores, albeit an incremental one. While the results were hardly astounding, with the increase in math scores being marginal and English scores staying essentially unchanged, it's still a good way for MaryEllen Elia, who's set to step down at the end of the month, to end her tenure.

Michael Gianaris

Amazon HQ2 nemesis Michael Gianaris is already known as the Amazon Slayer, but The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the Queens Democrat is also the protagonist of the tech giant’s “burn book,” which documented criticisms of Amazon’s once-ballyhooed and now-boo-hooed Long Island City headquarters. Gianaris racked up an impressive 25 entries in the burn book, and while “Amazon’s biggest enemy” may not be seen as a win by everyone, for Gianaris, it’s a badge of honor.

Brian Kavanagh & Jo Anne Simon

While Congress was busy all year doing next to nothing on gun control, New York legislators sprung into action. Their work has paid off now that the state’s “red flag” law has gone into effect. For every emotionally-disturbed and otherwise dangerous person who has their gun temporarily removed, Republicans and Democrats alike can thank bill sponsors state Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon for potentially saving lives.

E.J. McMahon

The founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy has good reason to celebrate, now that the center has scored a big legal victory against the New York City Police Pension Fund. A Manhattan judge ruled this week that the NYPD has to release the names of retired police officers collecting taxpayer-funded pensions, which can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Goo goos across the state might not always agree with the Empire Center, but this time around they gotta hand it to McMahon and his crew of FOIL-filing investigators.

Losers: 
Gary Ackerman

The downfall of Eric Schneiderman wasn’t the first sex abuse scandal to shake up New York’s political world – and it won’t be the last. The latest #MeToo allegation to emerge targets Gary Ackerman, a former congressman accused in a new lawsuit of being a “sexual predator” at a Boy Scout camp decades ago. While Ackerman’s lawyer vociferously denied the allegation – and legally, he’s innocent until proven guilty – Ackerman himself promptly resigned from a county consulting job. 

Lawrence Garvey

Lawrence Garvey didn't just post an anti-Semitic video this week. The head of Rockland's GOP doubled down on its message – that the Hasidic Jewish community was "taking over" the county – even after everyone from the governor to Rockland's Republican county executive criticized him. He has since taken the video down, but given that it's also not his first anti-Semitic social media scandal, Garvey’s probably not feeling terribly remorseful.

Kirsten Gillibrand

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. And despite being a “young mom,” the 52 year-old junior senator from New York had the wisdom to walk away from the presidential race on Wednesday after failing to qualify for the next debate. Thankfully, the unapologetically feminist campaigner gave one last economic boost to Troy, drinking whiskey at a local bar to celebrate her return to semi-normal life. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Looks like school’s out forever for the children of anti-vaxxers. After being dealt a blow last week in Robert F. Kennedy’s crusade against the elimination of religious exemptions for vaccines, a judge has now rung the death knell for his lawsuit. The judge upheld the new state law banning all non-medical vaccine exemptions for students, meaning the parents who brought the suit will either need to vaccinate their children or they’ll start homeschooling. Kennedy will surely appeal, but neither legal precedent nor science are on his side. 

Vito Mustaciuolo

It can’t be much fun to work at NYCHA, but now its general manager, Vito Mustaciuolo, is being accused of cultivating a toxic work environment, bringing at least five employees to tears. High-level staffers have been fleeing, while current and former employees claim that he mocks public housing tenants and screams at female underlings. And he’s not even able to do the most important job on his plate! Mustaciuolo just admitted to the feds that the authority lacks the ability to do what’s needed to clean up its lead paint problem. 

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