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 8, 2018

It’s certainly cold enough in New York City for winter sports. And the five boroughs produce enough top-notch athletes. But out of a population of 8 million-plus, there’s not one Olympian heading to South Korea? At least New York as a state has 19 athletes competing. So as the 2018 games get underway, strap on your skates, skis or curling shoes and speed through this week’s Winners & Losers.

Winners: 
Barry Berke

Forget Bloomberg. De Blasio is business-friendly too! … as long as you’re in the business of lobbying or lawyering. The feds ultimately declined to pursue a case against de Blasio last year, but his lawyer Barry Berke is still getting paid. If you think the mayor is a socialist, then consider this transfer of wealth: $2.6 million from the people of New York City, straight to law firm Kramer Levin.

John Bonacic

Can Bonacic boost the Borscht Belt? The Orange County state senator asked to chair the Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee with the goal of getting a big-time casino in his struggling district. Seven years later, it’s paid off, and ResortsWorld Catskills has finally opened. Slot players gonna play, and table gamers gonna game, but Bonacic better hope this casino’s big enough to buck a trend of weak gambling returns in the state.

John DeFrancisco

The state Senate deputy majority leader took advantage of the bad press for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and had a pretty good week himself. The gubernatorial challenger capitalized on the ongoing Joe Percoco corruption trial to criticize how the incumbent runs things. And he took Cuomo to task for wasting money on illegal “I ♥ New York” signs that are now coming down after threats from the federal government. Plus, DeFrancisco picked up more endorsements. A few more weeks like these, and the underdog might have a shot.

Carmen Fariña

Fariña can tout the fact that New York City’s schools hit a “record high” graduation rate, with 74.3 percent of city kids who entered high school in 2013 having graduate in four years. Now that’s a “C” average everyone can celebrate! The city has also stopped suspending so many kindergarteners, first and second graders. While some officials might wish it happened more, the city only kicked 328 terrible little tykes out of class this year. Eleven earned the boot for wielding weapons … but thankfully, no guns.

Melinda Katz & Francisco Moya

It’s like a B-movie villian that keeps coming back from the dead. This week, the de Blasio administration reached an agreement to move forward with a revised redevelopment plan for the long contested Willets Point site in Queens, and they’re hoping it’s a blockbuster this time. Borough President Katz already gave it a strong review. Katz and Assemblyman Moya, who represents the area, played a key role in reviving the redevelopment – and they’ll have key supporting roles as it moves forward.

Losers: 
Alicia Glen

It’s never a good thing to call fellow government officials “not that smart.” But that’s what Deputy Mayor Glen called members of the New York City Council, adding that they are “often extremely confused.” She didn’t even have her boss on her side, with Mayor Bill de Blasio calling the comment “unfair.” He was, after all, a member himself some time ago. Glen quickly apologized, but the comment likely won’t be forgotten – which won’t help much if she makes a 2021 mayoral run.

Andy King

He’s the king – of inappropriate work comments. This Bronx councilman is known to be eccentric – he once defended the use of circus animals by quoting Scripture – but asking a staffer to smile more and wear a “beautiful gown” to a gala is more than odd and old-fashioned, it’s invasive and wrong. The council acknowledged this week that it opened an investigation into King’s creepy behavior in December.

Herb London

Plenty of potential perpetrators are being put forward as corrupt in the Percoco trial. And then there are innocent bystanders who have been linked to the proceedings despite having nothing to do with the allegations. While the governor insists he fits that description, the person we’re talking about Herb London. The 1990 gubernatorial candidate – and his hair – apparently was a source of endless fascination for key witness Todd Howe, who along with Joe Percoco took to calling colleagues “Herb.”

Julio Nivelo

He’s the “Golden Boy” of Guayaquil, but you may know him as the lucky guy who stole a bucket of gold worth $1.6 million off a truck in midtown Manhattan. But Julio doesn’t count himself lucky these days. Back fled to his native Ecuador, where he served nine months in jail for the heist, he’s “lonely, fearful, and missing his three adult children in the U.S,” according to an NBC exclusive. The money? He says his ex-fiancée stole it.

Shola Olatoye

Is it too early to nominate someone for the losers of the year list? The embattled NYCHA chairwoman testified before the New York City Council this week, taking heat from lawmakers who pointed out that four out of five public housing residents lost heat this winter. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio seems reluctant to fire her – perhaps for political reasons – even as other NYCHA officials step down. But after she refused Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s request for an apology on Tuesday, it might be time to Shola the door.

City & State
20180522