This week, New York serves up a competition that's riveting spectators everywhere. Forget the U.S. Open, it’s Winners & Losers: Aces and Double Faults Edition – and you don’t even need a racket to get in the game.
Hector Figueroa – It may have been expected, but the state Labor Department’s approval of a recommended $15-an-hour minimum wage for New York’s fast food workers is still a triumph for the 32BJ SEIU workers who have long been fighting for it. Union president Hector Figueroa is as deserving a leader as any to take credit for the victory in this hard-won fight.
Barry Grodenchik – The establishment candidate emerged as the victor in the six-person primary for former New York City Councilman Mark Weprin’s vacant seat in Queens. Grodenchik, who already had a short stint in the Assembly under his belt, spent plenty of campaign cash and enjoyed the support of the borough president, a number of state lawmakers and Weprin himself. And if nothing else, the outcome is a reminder that a Times endorsement often makes little difference.
Pamela Hunter – The member of the Syracuse Common Council capitalized on the backing of the county Democratic committee to make short work of two opponents in this week’s primary for an open upstate Assembly seat. The heavily Democratic district became vacant when Sam Roberts left to join the Cuomo administration, and while Hunter still has to face a Republican rival, she’s expected to be heading to Albany in January.
Richard Thomas – Ernie Davis is the incumbent and state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson had plenty of name recognition in the Democratic primary for mayor of Mount Vernon, but this time youth won out. Richard Thomas’ primary victory was one of the night’s big upsets, and instantly establishes him as a rising star in the state’s political sphere.
David Niederman – The influential Orthodox rabbi and his colleagues got the de Blasio administration to officially stop requiring consent forms for a circumcision ritual linked to herpes in infants. The New York City Board of Health voted to drop the waivers for the traditional procedure, which involves performing a circumcision and then sucking blood from the wound. Going forward, the city said it would distribute information about risks and work with Orthodox leaders to test mohels if a baby is infected.
Bill Bratton – On our losers list for a second straight time, Bratton had some new headaches this week: Another 12 incidents of police using illegal chokeholds have been substantiated, although they happened before the commissioner came on. Then detectives allegedly slammed to the ground and handcuffed tennis star James Blake in a case of mistaken identity, and failed to report the incident. And Bratton’s predecessor, Ray Kelly, has used the media buzz over his new book to blast the NYPD’s performance under de Blasio. If he wants to be America’s top cop, Bratton's got plenty of climbing to do.
Gene Friedman – The medallion taxi king has a long road back to financial stability ahead of him. His companies collectively owe $11 million in taxes. And a Queens Supreme Court justice ruled for-hire vehicles could use e-hails, which effectively blunts taxi executives’ and their credit lenders’ argument that Uber, Lyft and taxi’s other competitors are not being adequately regulated.
Jeff Smisek – The United CEO resigned this week amid an embarrassing federal investigation into whether the airline agreed to reinstate a money-losing flight between Newark and South Carolina, where then-Port Authority Chairman David Samson has a weekend home. In a potential quid pro quo, United wanted improvements from the Port Authority at Newark International, which counts United as its largest carrier. While the outcome of the investigation is still up in the air, it was a crash landing for Smisek.
Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg – Attention: This is a Medical Alert. Loss of your rainmaker attorney as the leader of the Assembly can lead to changes to your practice that cut drastically into your profits. At this rate, you may have to cut back on personal expenses (like plane rides to Albany).
Angela Wozniak – There must be something in the water in the 143rd Assembly District. The recently elected assemblywoman is reportedly being investigated by the Assembly Ethics Committee due to sexual harassment claims made by a former staffer. The Cheektowaga pol replaced former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who left after seven staffers accused him of sexual harassment (he’s also remembered for making the world’s creepiest video ever). Welcome to Albany politics.
NEXT STORY: Winners & Losers 9/4/15