The “summer of hell” got off to a surprisingly bearable start this week. But with track work expected to last at least until Labor Day, downstate denizens are likely to be dealing with delays, derailments and other disasters that will make for many losers – or at least those who aren’t lucky enough to be shuttled from borough to borough in an SUV. Before we get ahead of ourselves, here are this week’s Winners & Losers.
Karen Blatt & Frank Tassone – The state’s Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment – or LATFOR, in Albany parlance – primarily has one task: redraw the boundaries of legislative districts once a decade in such a way that the state Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats stay in power. That is, it HAD one main task, since a constitutional amendment removed redistricting from LATFOR’s responsibilities. No matter for Blatt and Tassone, the political appointees who run the place – they’re still earning comfortable incomes even in the yearslong slow season.
Courtney Gross – Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when NY1 comes for you? The NYPD stonewalled the beloved TV news station for more than two years, denying Freedom of Information Law requests to see footage from the body camera pilot project. NY1 political reporter Courtney Gross finally won out, but the videos show only routine police work. A win for transparency, a loss for “Cops”-style excitement.
Sheldon Silver – He’s baaack! A federal appeals court overturned Preet Bharara’s hard-won corruption conviction against the powerful former Assembly speaker. Shelly must have been smiling as legal experts bemoaned a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has whittled down the definition of honest services fraud. Prosecutors promised to retry him, but he’s not Shel-done – at least for now.
Jimmy Van Bramer – New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer supported the creation of Girl Scout Troop 6000, the city’s first such group for homeless girls. The troop is now expanding to 14 additional centers and will receive funding from the city. This feel-good story is a win for Van Bramer, homeless girls in need of community and Thin Mints fans across the five boroughs.
David Wildstein – The Bridgegate mastermind avoided jail time for testifying against the other participants in the scandal, leading to the convictions of former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly and Port Authority executive Bill Baroni. Although he was served with three years probation, 500 hours of community service and $24,000 in fines, Wildstein proved that snitches can be winners too. Time for some resentful feelings in Fort Lee.
Sal Albanese – New York City mayoral candidate Sal Albanese didn’t hesitate to use his wife’s car vanishing in Queens as an excuse to take a jab at Mayor Bill de Blasio, telling the Daily News that “it’s not a crime wave, but it’s not a good feeling when your car is stolen in the middle of the day.” Once Albanese learned that his car was actually towed, not stolen, the blame somehow shifted from the mayor to the police.
Bill de Blasio – The mayor was harshly criticized for flying out to Germany on short notice to headline an anti-Trump rally near the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Even worse, Comrade de Blasio alienated his Marxist allies, telling WNYC he was “frustrated” with people begging on the street by choice, and wished that panhandling “didn’t exist.” Doesn’t he know they’re just looking for a way to survive without selling their labor to the bourgeoisie?
Andrew Cuomo – After occupying the second floor of the state Capitol for six and a half years, the governor decided that it was finally time that he take ownership of the MTA. While the state Legislature didn’t follow through on his last-minute power grab, voters are taking him at his word. A new Quinnipiac poll showed Cuomo’s popularity is dropping, thanks to problems with mass transit. Making things worse, his administration shifted $5 million from the cash-strapped MTA to the money-losing Olympic Regional Development Authority – or as one source put it, “stealing from one bankrupt place to prop up another bankrupt place.”
Kemp Hannon & Elaine Phillips – The Long Island lawmakers threw a wrench in the gears of a Cuomo proposal late last month, proposing a bill that looked to derail plans for a long-hoped-for third railroad track for the beleaguered LIRR. But whether or not Hannon and Phillips like it, everyone’s all aboard now! State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has cleared the tracks, saying his party won’t stand in the way.
Donald Trump Jr. – Junior’s response when a Kremlin-connected attorney reached out in order to help him take down Hillary Clinton? “I love it.” Although the president’s eldest son insisted that meeting with an attorney who had damaging information on an opponent is a routine campaign tactic, some critics say that the emails are hard evidence of collusion.