Any number of key appointees in the de Blasio administration have moved on, either of their own volition or under a cloud of scandal (see: Olatoye, Shola). Others have stayed on. And some, like Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, have proven to be so competent that they get new responsibilities, as she did this week when she was charged with dealing with the problem of lead exposure. While that’s not the most glamorous task, neither are her core responsibilities. And this week she also notched a victory with an appeals court ruling in favor of the city’s foam food container ban.
Who's up and who's down this week?
Who's up and who's down this week?
There are a few guidelines when it comes to the weekly Winners & Losers list. Individuals are almost always singled out for recognition, as opposed to broad groups like unions or New York City voters. Animals occasionally make the cut – but sometimes they don’t, as specific ones must be named. The same goes for humans – which means one mysterious New York City Council member didn’t qualify this week. To see who did, read on.
Nate McMurray had a dream – to be taken seriously by the Democratic Party as a congressional contender. Leaders may have thought earlier this year that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was the best chance to beat Rep. Chris Collins, but now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added McMurray to its Red to Blue column after a recent poll showed him just a few points behind Collins, who was indicted on charges related to alleged insider trading this year. With just a few weeks to go before the election, the financial and organizational support could put McMurray over the top.
Months after resigning in disgrace as the embattled head of the New York City Housing Authority, Shola Olatoye has managed to land on her feet. And she didn’t even have to leave New York. Olatoye just got a new gig with the Boston-based construction firm Suffolk as its vice president of business development in New York. The company’s president praised her “knowledge of the New York real estate development landscape.” Just don’t put her in charge of projects involving public housing, OK?
For the first time in at least a quarter century, New York City’s five boroughs lasted a full weekend without a single shooting. That’s something NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill can be proud of. With overall crime in the city dropping steadily for years, one might think a single weekend free of shootings wouldn’t be so rare, but it’s been decades since one passed in peace. With not a single person shot from Friday to Sunday, this victory goes not only to O’Neill, but to New Yorkers citywide.
Despite threats to organized labor at the federal level, New York remains a place where elected officials are eager to align themselves with labor unions. Yet it was still remarkable that both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week publicly sided with Erikson’s IBEW Local 3 in its months-long standoff with Charter Communications. Whether it’s fair to target NY1, the respected newsgathering operation owned by Charter, is another story, but at minimum Erikson has achieved the rare feat of bringing the governor and the mayor together.
The state’s highest court kicked two judges off the bench following allegations of misconduct and resistance to disciplinary efforts. Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio was already in trouble for a 2016 DUI, but she made things worse when she took a trip to Thailand while on probation. That didn’t sit well with the judges who ruled that she not only had trouble with alcohol but also with taking responsibility for her actions. Queens Civil Court Judge Terrence O’Connor got fired for similar reasons after he refused to testify under oath at a 2017 disciplinary hearing about his outside work. To make matters worse, he was also in hot water for abandoning judicial decorum when he reportedly belittled three attorneys in court.
New York City’s newly minted chief democracy officer gave some voters quite the Halloween-season scare this week, telling 30,000 or so active voters that they might be inactive and unable to vote on Election Day. City Hall defended the mailer, saying it never hurts to check your status, but more than 1,500 confused voters complaining to the Board of Elections may disagree. May we suggest a title change to chief discouragement officer?
New York City government has been watching the watchman, and isn’t happy with what it’s seen. A report out on New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters found that he was an abusive bully who overstepped his authority. Worst of all, the damning report seems to vindicate de Blasio, Peters’ friend-turned-foe, for whom he has a secret dossier prepared to justify Peters’ firing. On that note: stay tuned.
In just the latest example of apparent misconduct in Albany, state Sen. Simcha Felder’s chief of staff was accused of groping and harassing a female lobbyist at a private campaign event. Wasting no time, Felder place Powis on administrative leave. And as he is being investigated – by both the state Senate and Albany County – for his alleged offense, Powis has also been enrolled in a 30-day alcohol treatment program. If the allegations are true, Powis has nobody to blame for this but himself.
Receiving attention from the FBI is never good news, and now Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is under the bureau’s watchful eye, concerning whether the DA’s office dropped cases after receiving donations from lawyers. In one instance, Vance failed to bring charges against Harvey Weinstein in 2015 after he was accused of groping model Ambra Battilana, and Weinstein’s lawyer gave Vance $24,000 around the same time. With the Weinstein prosecution already in disarray, some question the competency of Vance’s office, and its ability to pin Weinstein.