Queens lawmakers capitalize on congestion pricing

It was a great week for one of our Real Estate Power 50 Vicki Been, who was appointed deputy mayor on Thursday, while others, like Councilman Kalman Yeger, aren't doing so hot. Let us know who you think had the best and worst week!

Nily Rozic.

Nily Rozic. Submitted

Update: New York City straphangers weren't the only beneficiaries of congestion pricing passing in Albany. Assembly members Nily Rozic and Ed Braunstein were voted last week's biggest winners thanks to a commuter rail discount for their Queens constituents, which may mark just the start of a cavalcade of carve-outs as the congestion pricing details get worked out. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn't winning over many City & State readers, who voted him the biggest loser. Perhaps the rest of America will show him a little more love? 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a pretty good week. He used his growing powers to ram through congestion pricing, install a new leader of the MTA, and even get himself a raise that will make him the highest-paid governor in the country. And with a bit of luck, Joe Biden’s yet-to-be-announced presidential bid will implode, paving the way for another New Yorker (no, not that one … or even that one) to move to the White House.

WINNERS:

Vicki Been -

When it comes to working for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Vicki has Been there, done that. But it’s not every day that you get offered the post of deputy mayor, so the former commish of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is coming back for more. She’ll succeed Alicia Glen and will handle a variety of weighty tasks, including overseeing the ongoing rollout of the mayor’s ambitious affordable housing plan.

Ed Braunstein & Nily Rozic -

New York City voters may not like congestion pricing, but at least some outer-borough residents got guaranteed concessions. Rozic and Braunstein announced that in return for their support, Long Island Rail Road commuters in parts of Queens not served by subways will get a 20 percent discount on monthly tickets, bringing the price down from $226 to $181. That’s good news for commuters who board at Auburndale, Bayside, Broadway, Douglaston, Flushing Main Street, Little Neck and Murray Hill, who will get the discount.

Pat Foye -

If there’s a time to get business done in Albany, it’s in the dead of night after an exhausting weekend of budget negotiations, when reporters and lawmakers alike may be too bone tired to pay much attention. Pat Foye learned this early this week, when he was nominated and confirmed as the next chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Heading up the organization that runs New York City’s subways is a job that promises a steady onslaught of public scrutiny and opprobrium. But with the subways turning a corner – and new funding on the way – there’s no better time than now for Foye.

Jere Hester -

After much anticipation, The City has finally launched its website with a splash, getting shout-outs from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Twitter. It’s still quite a feat to get both elected officials to praise a news outlet instead of berating it. We’ll see how long that lasts – a report has already taken aim at de Blasio’s ferry service pet project. While the site’s rollout went smoothly, it seems it took The City more time to build an entire website than to name its pigeon mascot, who remained nameless on the launch date. Just give the people what they want and name the bird Dave Colon!

Gloria Middleton -

Equal work deserves equal pay, and a recent settlement between New York City and CWA Local 1180, a union repping city administrators, is a huge step in that direction. The union, led by Gloria Middleton, filed a complaint in 2013, during the Bloomberg administration, alleging that women and minorities in the union weren’t being compensated fairly for their work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission validated this claim, and the two parties have worked to hammer out a deal for the past two years. This victory alone won’t close the gender pay gap, but it’s a good start.

LOSERS:

Bill de Blasio -

Hizzoner has been landing on the wrong side of our Winners & Losers list so often lately that we when he finally leaves City Hall we may have to designate him as Loser Emeritus. To be fair, the mayor has to really earn it to land among the losers – but he certainly qualified this week, from a controversial deal to buy 17 buildings from a couple of shady landlords while their lawyer bundled funds for the mayor, to continuing dismay over his 2020 ambitions, to renewed scrutiny of a questionable contract for the city’s heavily subsidized ferry service.

MaryEllen Elia -

Saved by the bell – er, malfunctioning computer-based test. The state has to cancel and postpone testing after technical glitches with Questar, an exam vendor they’ve been using for years (and have experienced problems with before). New York is trying to move to paperless tests, and this year is the first time some districts were transitioning to the computer-based format. It’s not a great look for a state already mired in exam-related scandal. The students were surely very bummed about the test-taking delay.

Jen Metzger & James Skoufis -

These state senators got flak for rubber stamping a raise for Cuomo during the twilight hours of budget negotiations. Skoufis, who has promised he would investigate spending by the governor’s administration, and Metzger appear to have tried to fly under the radar by disappearing when votes on the raise were cast, thus avoiding the politically risky vote. Skoufis claims he simply stepped out to use the restroom, though a spokesperson would not say what his vote would have been, while Metzger offered no comment about her absence. But as the pair has surely learned now, there’s no hiding from LCA reporters.

Cyrus Vance -

In the new web site’s first week of official operation, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance got caught in the web of The City’s investigative reporting, which revealed the DA spent nearly $250,000 on travel and restaurants over the past five years. As far as scandals go, a $5,000 round trip flight to London and a $2,800 stay in a Parisian mansion may not rise to the level of corrupt, but for a prosecutor who has been accused of going soft on white-collar criminals, this record of extravagance isn’t a great look.

Kalman Yeger -

What is Palestine? A country? A state? A geographic area? Something else? Nothing at all? And are there or aren’t there actually Palestinians? What we can agree on is that New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger believes Palestine “does not exist,” and that he seemed to be specifically referring to the question of Palestinian statehood. His provocative tweet spurred a backlash that landed him on last week’s losers list, and this week New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson bumped Yeger from the immigration committee – with Johnson facing a backlash himself for being the “speech police.”

NEXT STORY: What’s next for labor in Albany?

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