Who's up and who's down

Who's up and who's down

Who had the best or worst week in New York politics?
February 1, 2018

Imagine needing to buy a MetroCard and finding the machine only takes cash. The MTA was planning a system-wide software upgrade this weekend that would have resulted in that scenario, but backed down in the face of massive Twitter opposition. In the words of iconic New Yorker and M train rider Patti Smith, “The people have the power!” Now buy that MetroCard on credit and read this week’s Winners & Losers while you wait 20 minutes for your train.

Winners: 
Ruben Diaz Sr.

Take the money and run … for City Council. That’s the lesson we learned from the elder Diaz this year after he took $12,475 from the ride-hailing-Uber-industrial complex last year and an additional $13,700 since 2002. Then, he argued for the creation of a Committee on For-Hire Vehicles … that, by golly, he now chairs after winning his City Council race in November. Hat’s off to the Bronx vaquero – he sure knows how to steer his way to victory.

Rafael Espinal

Semi-legal basement speakeasies are all the rage, but semi-legal basement apartments haven’t gotten the same kind of love – until now. Nightlife-loving City Councilman Espinal has continued his push to legitimize the underground, calling for the legalization of basement apartments, where many already live in fear of fines. Now de Blasio’s backing the idea, putting almost $6 million in his budget towards safe, legal basement apartments in Espinal’s East New York district.

Suraj Patel

This 34-year-old businessman is challenging Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th Congressional District. And his campaign reports that he outraised the incumbent in the last quarter by bringing in an impressive $550,000. He’s got less cash on hand right now than Maloney, with $450,000 to her $641,000, but if Patel keeps his pace up, he’ll have plenty of money to reach all those young, hip residents of Greenpoint he wants to reach.

Ravi Ragbir

“D-day” was not as successful as ICE assistant field director Scott Mechkowski hoped it would be. Earlier this week, Ravi Ragbir, who is an immigration rights activist and the director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was released after a judge ruled that his detention was unconstitutional. Ragbir had been arrested during his check-in with ICE, on Jan. 11 – Mechkowski’s “D-day.” However, ICE said in a statement that it does not target citizens, and that “any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate."

Donald Trump

The president’s first State of the Union address was long, occasionally moving, and notably devoid of any extreme language. By his unique standards, it was, dare we say, presidential. Trump stuck to the script – for the most part – and got several applause lines, mainly from the Republican side of the room. He’s still lying about crowd size, or the number of people who tuned in, but it won’t matter in the long run. His speech did the job, he’ll be able to discredit the Russia investigation with his base by approving #releasethememo, and as Trump himself has famously said – he’s the president.

Losers: 
Matt Driscoll

The federal government evidently doesn’t “heart” New York. The Federal Highway Administration slapped the state with a $14 million penalty for putting up more than 500 I Love NY signs that violate federal highway rules. The state was actually warned not to install the signs in 2013, but Driscoll went ahead and did it anyway. He was the state transportation commissioner at the time and is currently heads the Thruway Authority executive director – and the feds addressed the penalty letter to both agencies.

David Farber

The man whom NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye called “a critical member of my senior staff” and “a dear, dear friend” is the latest casualty from the NYCHA lead paint scandal, becoming the fourth high-ranking official to step down while Olatoye somehow remains in her position. Farber, formerly the authority’s general counsel and executive vice president for legal affairs, gave a “no comment” when asked if he had been pushed out. That’s the nice way of saying he was “thrown under the bus by a dear, dear friend.”

Marty Golden

The Golden man-child has displayed not only a penchant for allegedly heckling bicyclists while impersonating a police officer at high speed, but also an increasingly impressive ability to stick his foot in his mouth. The Brooklyn state senator was roundly criticized for what many called a racist remark when he said opioids are no longer a “ghetto drug.” He later apologized, but when protesters rallied outside his office, a Golden spokesman said they were engaged in “uninformed criticism.”

Jeremiah Kittredge

New Yorkers are already mixed in their views on charter schools, and there’s evidence that they’re losing support nationally. So it certainly doesn’t help charters burnish their brand when scandals tied to the sector pop up. The latest one involves Kittredge, the leader of a pro-charter group who was sacked for “inappropriate behavior toward a non-employee.” It seems the rising young star of the movement landed on its “Got to Go” list.

Thomas Rice

Most police officers in the NYPD are trying to do the right thing. But then there are the “Detective Do-Littles” who come along and risk ruining the reputation of everyone on the force. One of the bad cops is Rice, a Queens cop who “made up fake names and addresses to improperly close at least 21 other grand larceny and auto theft cases over a 12-month period in 2011 and 2012,” according to the Daily News. And the kicker? He’s still on the job.

City & State
20180522