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…
Michael Mulgrew — The head of the city teachers union didn’t need any lessons on budget negotiations this year. With the end of New York City’s fiscal year looming, Mulgrew cut a deal to avert the 4,100 teacher layoffs the mayor had on the chopping block. In return, the union agreed to delay sabbaticals and redirect teachers without positions to substitute jobs. A couple thousand teachers will be lost to attrition and class sizes will rise, but Mulgrew kept his crew on the job, even as hundreds of other city workers are expected to get pink slips. Grade: A+.
Domenic Recchia, Jr. – You’d think the Council’s Finance Committee chair was Derek Jeter the way his colleagues were falling all over themselves with praise during this week’s budget vote. Speaker Christine Quinn called him her “wingman” and the exact person you’d want in a foxhole with you during the budget battle. Meanwhile, Recchia got the most pork this year, bestowing most of his member items on Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez. Who cares if Lopez’s non-profit empire is under federal scrutiny? This finance chair can do no wrong.
Kemp Hannon – When it comes to passing bills in the Legislature, Kemp Hannon is a ninja. The 65-year-old Nassau Republican was singled out in NYPIRG’s end-of-session roundup as being the legislator with the most bills to pass both the Senate and the Assembly. And after emerging as one of the architects of the same-sex marriage bill’s religious exemptions – which were essential for the bill’s passage – Hannon has also earned the gratitude of the LGBT community. Now about that health insurance exchange bill…
Jack Martins – Ex-State Sen. Craig Johnson may have a problem letting go – he stills occasionally goes after his opponent Jack Martins on Twitter. But following the news this week that Johnson is taking a job at Bloomberg LP, tweeting appears to be about as far as Johnson’s criticisms towards the new incumbent will go in 2012. Johnson probably represented the Democrats’ best shot at retaking the district. And with the property tax cap officially becoming law, Martins will have a big accomplishment to run on as new Democratic challengers line up.
David Paterson — The former governor was practically jeered out of Albany when his term ended, but the passage of same-sex marriage showed how he laid the groundwork for two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s big victories. Paterson set the template for using budget extenders to force cuts out of the Legislature, and his losing marriage push established the scorecard that advocates used to win this one.
Michael Bloomberg — Whatever the mayor did this week, he got little more than tough questions from the press and criticism from opponents. When he struck a budget deal that kept fire companies open and avoided teacher layoffs, he was panned for his earlier insistence on that the cuts were inevitable. When he changed his tune on the scandal-ridden CityTime project and demanded a $600 million refund from the lead contractor, critics said the move should have come much earlier. But City Comptroller John Liu – a frequent Bloomberg critic – praised the mayor for taking on the CityTime contractors, if it’s any consolation.
Charles Barron — The Councilman again cast the only “no” vote on the New York City budget, making him the one member of the Council to oppose the city’s spending plan for a second straight year. Barron’s lonely but principled vote reiterates his role as foil to the mayor, if only a symbolic and largely powerless one. It’s unclear what’s to be gained by taking jabs at the “Mike and Mike show,” starring Mike Bloomberg and the UFT’s Michael Mulgrew, other than adding jazzy quotes to drab news stories about the budget.
Ed Cox — Loyalists to the GOP chairman are jumping ship from the state Republican organization one by one. First went controversial executive director Tom Basile, who was followed out the door this week by political director Matt Masterson. All of that does not bode well for Cox if he does decide to seek re-election this fall as a slew of GOP candidates lay plans to unseat the chairman. This comes as the Suffolk County Republican and Conservative Parties are already lining behind Randy Altschuler’s bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop—making it unlikely that Ed Cox’s son, Chris, will again have a crack at the Republican nomination for the seat. But at least Chris’ recent wedding was fun.
Hazel Dukes — The NAACP and the teachers’ union may win their lawsuit seeking to block charter school expansion, but the NAACP’s New York head has already lost the high ground. She insulted and pushed Cliff Thomas, a Harvard-educated success story from a city housing project who wants to open a charter school in a Brooklyn neighborhood that needs all the help it can get. Charters deserve smart scrutiny; Dukes didn’t deliver it for the people she claims to represent.
Cyrus Vance, Jr. — The Manhattan District Attorney lost another high-profile case stemming from the deaths of two firefighters at the former Deutsche Bank building, on the heels of losing the rape case against two police officers who seemed guilty to everyone else in New York. Then came word that footage from a documentary film shot in the office could be used to help those cops — and that Vance’s top sex-crimes prosecutor is leaving the job. Perhaps those are the last holdovers from predecessor Robert Morgenthau that will bedevil Vance’s freshman term, but the sex case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn will hang entirely on Vance’s shoulders. And according to the New York Times, that case ain’t going so well…