City Hall News: This Week’s (Political) Winners and Losers
Despite sky-high poll numbers and premature presidential speculation, Andrew Cuomo was again left off the list this week. Everything to be said about the governor’s string of victories has been said tenfold. So on to this week’s more unsung winners, and yes, the losers too…
David Weprin — Out of many, one. The assemblyman (the Weprin with the moustache) emerged victorious from a crowded field of Democrats seeking to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner. He’s making a campaign out of not being that interesting – probably a welcome relief to Ninth District constituents, who have had just about enough of jazzy congressmen. Weprin will likely tie up the win and take the Amtrak to Washington, D.C. instead of Albany, for nearly double the pay. And if the seat gets redistricted out of existence in 2012, he’ll probably be okay – he and his brother Mark, who holds his old City Council seat, may figure out a way to play musical chairs again.
Jeff Klein — The Bronx/Westchester senator’s decision to break away from the bumbling Democratic conference may have been the best decision he’s ever made. Want proof? His four-member conference passed a lot of bills, got a lot of committee chairmanships and got a lot of attention. Then came word that rank-and-file Democrats voted more often with Klein than with Senate Minority Leader John Sampson – and that Klein expects to post $600,000 in fundraising later this month. Viva independence!
Steven Restivo — Walmart looks increasingly likely to eventually open its first New York City store in East New York, Brooklyn, and the company’s director of community affairs showed smart political skills this week by giving $4 million to the city’s summer youth employment program to subsidize 3,400 jobs. It gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg a platform to stick up for the company, and put anti-Walmart City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the awkward position of staying away from a feel-good budget restoration announcement. Yes, you can buy that kind of publicity.
Carlo Scissura — He’s never run for office before, but the chief of staff to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will be a formidable candidate if he tries to succeed his boss, now that Markowitz has said he’d support him. Scissura can build name recognition and tap into the borough’s money sources – and benefit from the bully pulpit of Brooklyn’s biggest mouth.
Ban Ki-moon — He hasn’t brought peace to the Middle East, but the United Nations secretary-general did something almost as difficult: He got a bill through the New York State Legislature. Sure, city and state officials did the real heavy lifting and the deal could still fall apart, but the U.N. is now closer to getting a new office tower just south of its iconic headquarters, thanks to the state’s approval of a necessary land swap.
Joel Klein — When the former schools chancellor agreed to join Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. late last year, handling damage control for a massive tabloid phone hacking scandal was probably not part of the job description. Standing up to the booing crowds at a Panel for Educational Policy meeting is one thing; managing a crisis that involves preying on the families of dead children and soldiers is something else entirely. Klein is a former prosecutor, so he knows the scandal that has befallen Murdoch’s media empire is unlikely to end with the shuttering of the News of the World.
Chris Collins — There were plenty of Republicans at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s western New York property tax cap event Wednesday, but not Erie County Executive Chris Collins. Not surprising, considering Collins is seen as the Republican most likely to challenge Cuomo in 2014. Not an enviable position to be in, considering Cuomo’s soaring popularity and reputation for behind-the-scenes political maneuvering. Democratic Party leaders are reportedly working to undercut Collins in the area – which shouldn’t be too tough, given the county executive’s penchant for parking his minivan in handicapped spots.
Jack McEneny — The Albany assemblyman, who serves on the state’s legislative redistricting task force, had the temerity to challenge the governor on the issue this week – and Cuomo whacked him. McEneny said it would be petty for the governor to shoot down the task force’s map before it was even drawn simply because the panel isn’t independent. Cuomo shot back that all lawmakers would certainly want to draw their own lines, and repeated his promise to block any plan the group came up with. It gave Cuomo a platform to put himself on the side of New Yorkers – and made McEneny look like he was on the side of their much-maligned lawmakers.
Eliot Spitzer — The steamroller keeps getting steamrolled. It’s not his most embarrassing experience in recent years, but the cancellation of his CNN show is another disappointment. What’s next for the former governor of New York? His dismal ratings make him a hard sell for another TV gig. Perhaps the pundits will start chattering again about his prospects of running for mayor or another public office – or perhaps some upstate county needs a hard-charging sheriff.
Adrian Benepe — Coney Island beachgoers endured a crappy Fourth of July holiday when they discovered Parks Department employees rationing toilet paper to women entering the restrooms there. The Parks commissioner said he didn’t know about it beforehand but took the heat for it, telling the Post, “It’s our business to help New Yorkers do theirs.” Lucky for him he still has two months of summer to wipe the slate clean.