City Hall News: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s poll numbers soared to new heights this week, while the world’s leaders converged on Midtown Manhattan to wrangle over foreign policy and give headaches to the average commuter. Amid the hustle and bustle, the week’s winners and losers came into focus:
Harry Wilson — After losing a close race for state comptroller to Tom DiNapoli last year, Wilson did what any good Republican would do: took a job with the Teamsters helping them crank out a contract with a large trucking company, then accepted an appointment from President Barack Obama for a position on the Advisory Committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. So if Wilson were to, say, run for comptroller again in 2014, this would seem to be a pretty good perch from which to do so. Rematch!
Tom DiNapoli — The state comptroller’s Cassandra-like warnings about New York’s finances look even more prescient given the week’s news about the gloomy depths of the recession we can’t seem to shake. He’s the Nouriel Roubini of New York state budgets. And his effort to hand off results of an audit of a shady-looking Monroe County Local Development Corporation to Attorney General Schneiderman for investigation is a savvy move of cooperation in an often fractured state investigative environment.
Peter Ward — Finally, those giant inflatable rats can be removed from Central Park. After a 44-day strike, the Hotel Trades Council president scored a major victory in his union’s resolution with the Boathouse restaurant. The restaurant had resisted workers’ efforts to unionize, but ended up not only recognizing the union, but also granting major concessions in the workers’ new contract. The victory also augments Ward’s reputation as one of the more effective labor bosses in New York City.
Steve Morello — It’s rare enough for a Cuomo administration insider to be a veteran of both the Bloomberg administration and the first Cuomo administration. But then for the boss to lavish you with praise too? Along with special assistant Linda Lacewell, the longtime spokesman (whose state government service goes back to the days of Gov. Hugh Carey) got the credit for the governor’s new openness initiative yesterday. If it successfully pulls back a curtain from Cuomo’s operations, he earned it.
Jim Featherstonhaugh — He hasn’t beaten the house yet, but New York’s top casino gambling lobbyist must be satisfied with how quickly the pieces are falling into place to set the stage for legalizing the practice statewide. Since the news broke that the Cuomo administration was looking into expanding casino gambling beyond Indian lands, both Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver have stated their openness to the idea. The governor is remaining coy on his exact intentions, but Featherstonehaugh’s ties to the Cuomos can’t hurt on the long road ahead.
Michael Bloomberg — The mayor, blah blah blah, livery cab bill in trouble, blah blah blah, deputy living in Connecticut, blah blah blah, Haggerty trial disclosures, blah blah blah — but did you see that leopard-print couch in his living room? Loser!
Dean Skelos — He may have traded partisan redistricting for gay marriage, but this week the Senate majority leader is pushing his luck by floating a trial balloon for creating a new, GOP-controlled district near Albany. The editorial boards and good government groups cried foul, and Senate Democrats across the state had to be revived with smelling salts. Besides, Andrew Cuomo is almost sure to veto a redistricting plan that includes a 63rd Senate district. File this one under “boneheaded.”
Byron Brown — The Buffalo News came out with a great story this week about the mayor’s penchant for seeing his name on, well, everything — buildings, monuments, surveillance cameras, even lifeguard t-shirts. Local officials and union leaders groused about Brown’s self-promotion. Moreover, Brown practically fled from a reporter trying to ask him about this seeming megalomania. Maybe if the paper changed its name to “The Byron Brown News” he’d be more willing to comment.
John McEneny — At redistricting hearings across New York City this week, the Albany Democratic Assemblyman got defensive about the process — his longtime area of expertise — and got beat up by several area Democratic lawmakers in the process. In Brooklyn, City Councilwoman Tish James compared McEneny to South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson (of “You lie!” infamy) after McEneny corrected James during her testimony. And yesterday, at a hearing in Manhattan, former Mayor Ed Koch told McEneny he was an “enemy of the people.” Of course, the frustrations aren’t really about McEneny, but about the way the redistricting process is unfolding generally. Still, McEneny might want to cool down a bit for his own sake.
Michael Grimm — Plenty of New York politicians carry the whiff of corruption, but the Staten Island congressman typically isn’t one of them. Yet this week Grimm was named to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s most corrupt list for doing things like illegally using Marine and FBI logos during his campaign and endorsing a private security firm. While CREW is often seen as a left-leaning group, the designation will nonetheless not look good on campaign mailers. And for a Republican congressman who eked out a narrow win in a swing district for his first term, he certainly doesn’t need this kind of publicity.