This week's biggest Winners & Losers

This week's biggest Winners & Losers

Who's up and who's down this week?
December 12, 2019

After the MTA, there’s nothing that New Yorkers love to hate more than SantaCon, the annual drunken bar crawl of frat bros, sorority gals and others of their ilk that fills Manhattan’s streets with pools of puke. So while it’s understandable that a trio of local elected officials would want to keep the booze cruise queue out of their district, it just means the Santas will be turning Times Square into their personal North Pole. In all the confusion, no one involved is making our Winners & Losers list – we checked it twice.

Ras Baraka

 New York City hit the pause button on shipping its homeless to Newark – at least for now. It's a temporary win for the New Jersey city, which recently filed a lawsuit over New York's controversial housing program that has placed people in shoddy apartments all over the country. Of course, taking a stand against some of the country's most vulnerable and outing your own city's housing as uninhabitable doesn't make Newark Mayor Ras Baraka look great, either – which is why we dubbed him a loser last week.

David Clegg

Election Day was more than a month ago, but Ulster County District Attorney-elect David Clegg finally gets to have his victory celebration this week. After Republican nominee Mike Kavanagh came out ahead on election night, leading by just three votes, Clegg was ultimately proclaimed the winner by a final margin of 77 votes. The title “Ulster County’s top prosecutor” might not put Clegg in the history books, but he’ll still be the first Democrat to hold the seat in 162 years.

Kathy Hochul

New York’s lieutenant governor has won an election … to chair the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association! The organization’s purpose is to elect more Democrats to LG posts around the country, and it’s a perfect fit for Hochul, who’s nothing if not a tireless campaigner. On a less partisan front, her efforts as co-chair of a statewide heroin task force appear to have had an impact, as opioid overdose deaths outside of New York City declined last year for the first time in a decade. 

Brad Hoylman & Jeffrey Dinowitz

For the second time, a state judge has upheld the state law eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines and ruled the ban constitutional. Noted anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been trying to fight the law for months on behalf of families who want their kids to get the measles. But he’s been defeated at every turn. The dismissal of this particular lawsuit is just the latest in a string of failures. Unfortunately for state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Jeffery Dinowitz, the anti-vaxxers have promised to appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if they need to, so the legislators’ law may still need defending.

Kevin Schuler

 Kevin Schuler keeps on failing upward. The former LPCiminelli executive avoided prison time during the Buffalo Billion corruption scandal despite pleading guilty to two felonies in the matter. Now, Schuler has been appointed to serve as Niagara County’s public information officer, a role that pays $79,003 a year. Appointing a convicted felon to a government post is not a great look for the county legislature – which approved Schuler by a vote of 8 to 5 on Tuesday – but Schuler came out on top, proving that there’s no punishment too small for white-collar criminals.

John Banewicz

The Cortland County treasurer demonstrated how to make a bad situation worse while defending his $25 contribution to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke’s unsuccessful 1991 campaign for governor of Louisiana. Banewicz said he supported the good old boy because he wanted to move the U.S. back to the gold standard. Plus, according to Banewicz, the KKK’s simply misunderstood! He told the Cortland Standard the notorious terrorist organization was founded to protect voting rights for whites in the South. If Banewicz ends up paying folks in Confederate currency, would it be redeemable in fool’s gold? 

Cynthia Brann

It was her town-skipping predecessor as New York City correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, who oversaw the $27.5 million contract with the whiz kids at McKinsey. But it’s the current jails chief, Cynthia Brann, who has to deal with the blowback for the weak work, which failed to stop the continuously rising rates of violence on Rikers. And the news broke on the same week that correction officers appeared to slow-walk a suicide attempt, standing by as a mentally ill inmate hanged himself.

Sam Chang

Things seemed like they were going pretty well for Sam Chang until people started to pay attention to him. After all, he was cashing in on lucrative tax breaks for developing hotels for the homeless, while New York City subsidized the building. But his bad week began when the double dipping came to light, earning him flack. It got worse when further reporting revealed that Chang had fired dozens of hotel staff after they voted to unionize. The icing on the cake came when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into the mass firing. Chang probably could have shaken off some bad press, but a state investigation is sure to prove a little bit harder.

John Flanagan

Four more incumbent GOP state senators are jumping ship, making it just 15 out of 23 Republican incumbents left running for reelection next year. Another cash-infused blue wave is already appearing on the electoral horizon, but Cap’n Flanagan is still sitting back hoping the Dems sink their own battleship by going too far with their progressive reforms. If Flanagan does not change his political course soon, he’s going to be the only political hand left on deck once November 2020 comes around.

Letitia James

Tish James lost her ambitious lawsuit against ExxonMobil, much to the chagrin of environmental advocates who thought New York’s attorney general might be able to take down the oil giant or, at the very least, drain its hefty bank account. And things only got worse for Tish this week when she was accused of turning her back on the WFP – the third party that made her – for defending the state against a lawsuit filed by the political party. 

City & State