Clearly the most powerful entities in New York this week were the natural disasters – an earthquake and impending hurricane that snatched headlines from teacher layoffs, rearranged pols’ schedules, and generally had more personality than any of the candidates clogging the news cycle. But alas, only humans qualify for Winners & Losers, our weekly catalog of who’s up and who’s down in the seismic struggle that is New York politics.
Pedro Espada — We’re loath to put the sushi-snarfing, three piece suit-wearing former senator on a winners list of any kind, but he managed to stave off a (probably well-deserved) ruling from the state that would have ended Medicaid payments to his Bronx health clinic, Soundview. The clinic hasn’t filed good paperwork, and it’s serving as one of Espada’s lifelines, but it also supports patients. This may be the rare instance where his selfishness could temporarily benefit his former constituents.
Dick Ianuzzi — The state teachers union chief saw a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy year this week when a judge struck down part of the state’s new teacher evaluation plan that emphasizes a handful of standardized tests. Ianuzzi said the ruling upholds the “value of collective bargaining,” but the ruling wasn’t a total win for the New York State United Teachers. It also upheld the portion of the law that allows for the speedier dismissal of teachers. These days, though, for unions in New York, win-some-lose-some is better than nothing.
Sandra Lee — New Yorkers got to see an unexpected and delightfully human side of the state’s First Girlfriend this week, in all her boob-grabbing, potty-mouthed glory. She’s not all white outfits and meticulously arranged floral spreads. No, sometimes she can be sassy and let slip a few F-bombs. And while Lee is no doubt ticked off at whomever leaked the video of her on-air flubs to the Internet, she should take solace in one YouTube commenter who noted: “I’d party with her any day!”
Lowell McAdam — The CEO of Verizon has been on the job less than a month, but already put a notch in his belt by getting 45,000 striking Verizon employees back to work without making any major concessions. True, McAdams did have to agree to allow workers to continue under their expired contract while a deal is hashed out. But it’s going to be a heavy lift for union organizers to get their workers to strike once again, potentially giving McAdam the upper hand in negotiations. Maybe McAdam was really worth that $7.2 million paycheck he got last year. Okay, maybe not.
Eric Schneiderman — New York’s attorney general has found himself the brave David to the federal government’s Goliath in the mortgage settlement case, slinging rocks on behalf of virtuous taxpayers against evil banks. He’s been trying to get a foothold for months in a state government where Gov. Andrew Cuomo sucks up all the oxygen, and in that type of contest, becoming an insta-folk hero always helps.
Ann Marie Buerkle — Many potential congressional challengers are holding off until they see how redistricting plays out, but the upstate congresswoman won’t catch that break. She narrowly defeated ex-congressman Dan Maffei in 2010 riding the Tea Party wave, but he said this week he’ll try to retake it next year. It can’t help that Heritage Action for America also found Buerkle has the most conservative voting record in the state delegation, since she’ll need to win over independent voters in 2012.
Michael Mulgrew — While his statewide counterpart Ianuzzi reveled in a semi-victory over a court ruling on teacher evaluations, the chief of the city’s teachers union faced a major setback when an appeals court ruled the rankings of public school teachers should be made public. Mulgrew has vowed to appeal, but there’s no mistaking the fact that his union has been on the losing side of a growing number of court decisions. Time to send those union lawyers to detention.
George Pataki — He has visited several early primary states, going so far as to run ads for his nonprofit organization. Now the big question … does anyone really care? He has virtually no chance at winning the GOP nomination for president and everyone knows it. Not now, not ever. Is there something we’re missing here?
Lillian Roberts — While other unions cut deals with the Bloomberg administration to avoid layoffs, the DC 37 executive director refused. Now more than 700 of her members in the Education Department are getting laid off. It’s a painful way to learn that the mayor wasn’t bluffing — and to learn the limits of your power.
Cyrus Vance Jr. — The biggest case of his career is over. But is his career? The Manhattan district attorney got a lot of supportive editorials after the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn fell apart, but it was a harsh lesson in how to prosecute a crime. Now he’s angered some Harlem voters he may need to get re-elected, and surely he’s emboldened some potential challengers.