City Hall News: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is on hold from our list until the John Haggerty jury renders a verdict, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the Occupy Wall Street protesters a reprieve, got low marks from voters, but saw a majority give thumbs up to bike lanes – so his week’s a wash. Here’s how the rest of the week shook out for Winners & Losers:
Rick Lee – With great style comes great responsibility….and so it is for Rick Lee, the so-called “hipster cop.” Let’s face it, at this point the laudatory profiles of the 44-year-old NYPD detective are about the only good press the department is getting. As a First Precinct liaison between the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the police, he’s been able to turn slim ties and thick-framed glasses to his advantage, using sartorial diversity in a way that speaks to the camped-out crowds in Zuccotti Park. He’s in line to retire in four months, but something tells us he could get a raise if he stuck around. That, or a lot of people asking him out on dates.
Chuck Schumer – For a guy who likes to jump into causes when it suits him, New York’s senior senator has had some good ones lately. He’s publicly promoted the Moynihan Station project with gusto –- and now the prospects for a revamped train station are getting new life with the Port Authority taking over the project. He’s also been outspoken about bringing the Lockerbie bomber to justice and the problems with the leadership in Libya that harbored him. At least part of that campaign came to a conclusion this week with the death of Muammar el-Qaddafi.
David Seifman – Whether Haggerty goes down or not, the fact there’s any trial at all is a testament to the New York Post City Hall bureau chief’s dogged reporting. In a time when journalism is obsessed with Twitter and Facebook, Seifman pored over months-old stacks of campaign finance reports to track how Bloomberg spent his campaign dollars, and found an apparent scam that escaped Bloomberg’s auditors. Buzz-obsessed young reporter ought to set down their iPhones and watch how Seifman does it.
Freddy Ferrer – The merging of Mercury Public Affairs and Clark & Weinstock will expand the lobbying rosters of both firms, which is good news for Mercury principal Freddy Ferrer. The former Bronx borough president may have lost his mustache in recent years, but business is sure to boom, especially with the political season in both Washington and New York set to heat up.
David Emil – The former president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is getting a new job as deputy to newly appointed Port Authority director Pat Foye. Not only will he presumably improve upon his former salary, which was $1 per year at the LMDC, but he’ll also shake the stigma of heading up one of the most ridiculed agencies in the state, constantly criticized for delays in construction, money squabbles and disasters like the Deutsche Bank fire. He’s been at LMDC for years weathering the haters, and it looks like he is getting rewarded for his patience.
Sharif El-Gamal – The developer of the Park51 Islamic cultural center stole a page from former Gov. David Paterson’s playbook this week when he backdated a receipt for $30,000 in unpaid taxes in an attempt to satisfy questions about his finances. El-Gamal is reportedly encountering problems raising the funds he needs to build the oft-discussed cultural center and sued Con Edison over what the utility claims is almost $2 million in unpaid rent there. So while it looks like El-Gamal won the ideological battle over his right to build the center near the former World Trade Center site, he may lose the war if he can’t afford the space.
Dean Skelos – The Senate majority leader is making a big push to appeal to Latino voters in the state, but he may want to first reach out to Latinos in the Legislature. Skelos’s Unidad Legislative conference that starts today was overshadowed by Bronx Democrats Ruben Diaz Sr. and Gustavo Rivera’s call to boycott the event, arguing that Skelos and his colleagues don’t represent Latino interests. Moreover, Skelos’ acceptance of the “Eco-Star of the Year” award from the New York League of Conservation Voters was met with eye-rolls from some environmentalists, who complained that Skelos and his GOP conference were green offenders, not champs.
Ed Towns – The 28-year congressman reported a shockingly low $11,000 in cash on hand, all but assuring a primary challenge from Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. When Towns was the ranking member on the prominent House Committee on Oversight and Government — and for several years, when he chaired the committee — fundraising was much, much easier. But Towns was booted in January by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi over concerns he couldn’t keep Republican chair Darrell Issa in check. Of course, the low figure could also indicate Towns isn’t really serious about running again, despite his public statements to the contrary.
Tim Hoefer — It seemed obvious to the good-government watchdogs at the Empire Center for New York State Policy that the New York City Police Pension Fund should release the names of and amounts of annual payments to its pensioners, especially since other funds routinely released that information for years. But an Appellate Division panel ruled against them last week, setting up a Court of Appeals showdown. If the Empire Center loses, its director Hoefer will have not only lost for good, but will have set a precedent for secrecy that every other pension fund could then follow.
Doug Schoen – Mayor Bloomberg’s pollster conducted a “systematic random sample” of nearly 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters, and his conclusions made a splash on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Schoen claimed the protesters “deeply” oppose free-market capitalism and strongly support “radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.” But bloggers who looked at his full tabulations blasted him for exaggerating his case, noting that protesters actually cited the influence of corporate and special interests, partisanship and joblessness as their top issues. Besides, trying to accurately sample the so-called 99 percent seems like a recipe for disaster.
See the full post at City Hall News.