Mayor Pete beats Trump ... as the week's biggest winner

Who’s up and who’s down this week?

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg during a stop in New Hampshire.

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg during a stop in New Hampshire. Charles Krupa/AP/Shutterstock

Update: It was arguably President Donald Trump's "single best week" since winning the 2016 election - but City & State voters instead rallied around a long-shot Trump contender, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who got 42 percent of the online vote. Meanwhile, more than half of voters selected New York City first lady Chirlane McCray as last week's biggest loser, thanks to ongoing scrutiny of her Thrive NYC mental health initiative. All in all, it wasn't a great week for Mayor Bill de Blasio - his own presidential ambitions were overshadowed by a midwestern upstart, his wife was blasted by the City Council, and he's not even the tallest politician in the five boroughs. 

There’s a lot of money for the governor and state lawmakers to spread around – $174 billion, give or take a few billion – but somehow it’s never enough. Will lawmakers get all the cash they want for schools? Will there be new funding for the subways and commuter rail lines? Will matching funds for campaign contributions simply be too expensive? We’ll (likely) know soon enough. Until then, here are the latest non-fiscal Winners & Losers.

WINNERS:

Matthew Avitabile -

There’s the right to bear arms, and there’s the right to bear “electric arms.” A federal judge ruled this week that it’s all the same thing, shooting down New York’s total ban on civilians using tasers. While the case brought by plaintiff Matthew Avitabile of Schoharie County hinged on the Second Amendment, the judge introduced a legal concept based on the notion that people would have fewer guns if the courts would just let them buy stun guns, saying: “Fewer handguns in the home would result in fewer injuries or deaths.”

Pete Buttigieg -

A certain mayor considering a presidential bid received a warm welcome in New York City and a glowing introduction from New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson – but it wasn’t Bill de Blasio. Nope, it was Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana – pronounced boot-edge-edge, as in, he’ll boot de Blasio’s embarrassing pseudo-campaign out of our memories soon enough. Hey, maybe this mayor has some actual ideas about how to fix the MTA?

Robert Cornegy Jr. -

How’s the weather up there? De Blasio may be Big Bird, but he ain’t got nothing on Cornegy, who just officially became the world’s tallest politician, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The Brooklyn councilman measures 6-foot-10, forcing even the city’s famously tall mayor to look up to him. Cornegy, a former professional basketball player, said he’s glad he could bring the designation to his home borough. Perhaps it will inspire the MTA to introduce taller subway cars so the distinguished lawmaker no longer has to hunch over during his commute.

Donald Trump -

Critics of the president will have a harder time lambasting his “NO COLLUSION” tweets now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has found no evidence that Trump or his campaign coordinated with the Russian government’s interference efforts during the 2016 election – at least according Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings. Trump may never hear the end of the collusion accusations, and Democrats are still prodding the question of whether he illegally obstructed justice, but for now at least the president has a great Russian weight lifted off his shoulders.

Quentin D. Wheeler -

Who doesn’t want to work but still get paid? The controversial ex-president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse got to live the dream for eight month following his resignation last summer. He did this by going “on leave with pay” at an annual salary rate of $291,833, while staying on until February. One potential explanation? To “update his scholarly and creative interests,” including the evolution of beetles. It seems the Wheeler found a way to adapt and survive in his environment, too.

LOSERS:

Sergio Garcia -

The former senior VP at SUNY's Upstate Medical University was charged with two felonies this week for allegedly fabricating details on his application for the $340,000-a-year job. These charges stem from a Times Union exclusive, which also cited statements made by Garcia that turned out to be untrue. These comments included awkward falsehoods like supposedly being friendly with big-name former government officials like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell – people who certainly don’t need to make up stories to get noticed. Yikes.

Chirlane McCray -

New York City’s first lady Chirlane McCray has had a rough couple of weeks amid sharp scrutiny of her pricey Thrive NYC mental health initiative. But this week may take the cake as a particular low point, as McCray appeared before the City Council and was still unable to convince some lawmakers that the program has achieved measurable results. McCray brushed off the criticism by saying “haters gonna hate,” but it’s not that easy to shake off an indignant City Council.

Jerrold Nadler -

Nearly two years later and all Jerrold Nadler got was a four-page summary. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee demanded more detail from Attorney General William Barr, warning that he’ll wait until April 2 for the full, 300-page report before he takes action. Whether or not he gets it is an open question, but it now seems clear that impeachment is off the table – and that barring any damning findings from further probes into President Donald Trump, Democrats will have to try to win back the White House at the polls in 2020.

David Soares -

Much to the chagrin of Soares and other district attorneys across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially signed off on changes to a bill that will create a Commission of Prosecutorial Misconduct to add transparency to the criminal justice process. The Albany County DA argued that the original bill interfered with prosecutorial discretion and was not even constitutional, and the District Attorneys Association of New York found the new changes unsatisfactory. But Soares may still have recourse, because even Cuomo admits that the changes he approved may leave the law wide open to a constitutional challenge.

Kalman Yeger -

The New York City councilman sparked a furor when he posted a tweet saying that “Palestine does not exist.” In fact, Palestine is the name of an actual place, even if there’s a dispute over whether to recognize it as a sovereign state – which is the point Yeger seemed to be making. U.S. foreign policy aside, Yeger’s now facing a sharp backlash among his colleagues. “Congrats on scoring cheap political points,” shot back fellow Councilman Antonio Reynoso, “but always remember, It is a lot easier to destroy than it is to build.”

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