Time to pop on some shades and cruise with the top down. The founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents drivers for app services like Uber and Lyft, won big when the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission voted Tuesday to rev up the minimum wage for drivers. They’ll be earning $17.22 per hour after expenses – an increase of more than $5 per hour for the 16,000 drivers that the guild mobilized. Uber and Lyft slammed the move, but it’ll be nice to know the driver holding your life in your hands wouldn’t make more money flipping burgers.
Who's up and who's down this week?
Who's up and who's down this week?
Public advocate candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito wants to legalize cannabis and use the tax money to fund the subways in a plan she’s calling Weed for Rails. At the same time, the MTA is diverting attention from its own poor management and lack of government support by blaming its woes on the small percentage of fare beaters. Solution: make it cool to pay, by selling MetroCard-branded rolling papers.
After weeks of pushback on the Amazon deal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo got some vindication – signed, sealed, delivered before the holiday rush. A poll by Quinnipiac University revealed that city voters support the tech giant’s new headquarters in Long Island City, 57-26 percent. Cuomo should make sure to tout those numbers, and not the much more lukewarm response to the $3 billion in tax incentives he’s throwing Amazon’s way.
You’d think that every state lawmaker is psyched about the news that they’ll likely get a pay raise. After all, it’s been 20 years – and who doesn’t like more money? (63 percent more money, to be exact.) But since we can’t name the entire state Legislature a winner, Carl Heastie takes the cake. The Assembly speaker has long been vocal advocate for a legislative pay hike, arguing it’s far past due. The only downside for Heastie is that the commission recommended the increase be tied to a limit on outside income, and the speaker has been a lot less enthusiastic about that pesky ethics reform.
It’s about time! A month later, state Sen. Sue Serino finally eked out a 695-vote win over her Democratic challenger Karen Smythe, who conceded the race this week to represent the 41st Senate District in Dutchess and Putnam. Though Serino will be in the minority during her third term, she might still be able to get some things done, considering her past work on bipartisan issues, like her successful 2016 effort to repeal taxes on feminine products and an effort last year to increase funding to battle Lyme and other tick-based diseases.
Amazon’s arrival has created both winners and losers, but one group undoubtedly coming out ahead is the lobbyists and flacks who get paid millions by companies worth billions to wring subsidies from taxpayers. This week the tech giant retained Queens boy Mark Weprin and his colleagues at Greenberg Traurig to navigate New York’s political scene, along with SKDKnickerbocker to handle its local PR.
Remember this guy? Yeah, neither did we. The former City Council candidate was charged with orchestrating a straw donor scheme during his campaign in 2013, allegedly using employees of a Bronx day care center to steal at least $4,500 in public matching funds. He came in fourth against Ritchie Torres way back when, but learned a valuable lesson: Even five years after the fact, breaking campaign finance law will come back to haunt you.
Yet another Cuomo associate will find himself behind bars. On Monday, a Manhattan judge sentenced Louis Ciminelli, CEO of LPCiminelli, to 28 months in prison for his role in rigging the bids for Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project. A bonus sneak preview of next week’s Winners & Losers: The head of the project, Alain Kaloyeros, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
“Love you brother.” Who said it? Certainly not the voters who just gave the mayor a lowly 43 percent approval rating. No, Bill de Blasio said it to corrupt crony and prostitute patron Jona Rechnitz, now on trial. Of course, that drama was overshadowed this week by the did-he-didn’t-he firing fiasco of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito. You’d think de Blasio could’ve let him go in person, but as the Times pointed out, the mayor barely even bothered to meet with any of his commissioners this year – or even show up at his office.
Losing your job is never fun, but most of the time, you at least know for certain you’re being axed. New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito wasn’t so lucky. After a New York City deputy mayor accidentally asked him to resign ahead of schedule, he was left in a state of limbo for an entire weekend and nearly all of Monday, awaiting confirmation from the mayor. When de Blasio finally issued a statement, he confirmed that Esposito would soon be unemployed, but that he would stay on until they found his replacement. The mayor later admitted he handled the situation poorly. Gee, ya think?
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci has been accused of sexually assaulting a staffer during his Assembly term last year. The staffer, Brian Finnegan, says Lupinacci harassed him verbally for nearly three years – since he first started working in the assemblyman’s office – and then assaulted him last December when they shared a hotel room in Albany. Look, we’re all innocent until proven guilty, but 2018 is a pretty bad year to be accused of sexual assault.