City Hall News: This Week’s Winners and Losers

| November 18, 2011 10:38 AM

Call us self-interested, but everybody in New York is a loser when police prevent reporters and photographers from covering the protests in lower Manhattan, and top city officials back them up. Some demonstrators provoked fights and some cops were brutal; the media tries to capture it all so New Yorkers can make up their own minds what happened. New York City’s own rules allow media to do exactly that, but the rules meant nothing when credentialed photographers were beaten and handcuffed for trying to show those events to the rest of New York. No matter where you stand on Occupy Wall Street, the city deserves better from its government.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Leader Joseph Bruno, right, talks with actor Joe Pesci at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2007. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned two fraud convictions against Bruno from 2009. But the federal government is moving to bring new charges against him. AP/Mike Groll

Joe Bruno — His legal troubles aren’t over, but for the first time in two years, the former longtime Senate president is again an innocent man in the eyes of the law. A federal appeals court threw out convictions claiming he used his state authority to help his private consulting business, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the legal standard involved was flawed. The feds hope to go after him again, but it’s better to be under indictment than convicted.

Michael Bloomberg — Notwithstanding the press crackdown, the mayor took the upper hand in the two-month-long Occupy Wall Street saga just as public sympathy for the encampment was fading and just before it turned angry. Image matters, and to a substantial slice of New York, Bloomberg is now the strong figure keeping order amid chaos. Even several organizers of last night’s protest, tongues in cheek, were grateful to the mayor — for helping reinvigorate the movement.

Andrew Cuomo — He is the government, as he famously let slip in a radio interview last week, but apparently the governor is also the Democratic Party too. Cuomo’s success in quashing two state party resolutions this week – one against hydrofracking, one for the millionaires’ tax – shows just how much control he has over New York’s political operations as well as governmental ones. Louis XIV, eat your heart out.

Bill de Blasio — The worse Comptroller John Liu’s legal problems get, the better the public advocate’s chances get for the 2013 mayor’s race, since they both draw the same labor support. The New York Timesalso endorsed his effort to improve city compliance with the Freedom of Information Law, and he even got a celebrity endorsement from Cynthia Nixon. (Though Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s celebrity, Scarlett Johansson, is still more glamorous.)

Joe Lhota — The MTA’s new executive director hasn’t been confirmed as chairman yet, but he’s not hiding underground. Lhota, known as a tough but fair negotiator, has improved relations with Transport Workers Union Local 100 at the start of contract talks by promising to aggressively prosecute anyone who attacks a transit worker. He’s not a transit expert like predecessor Jay Walder, but he’s already called for no service cuts, more funding from Albany, and a new schedule for maintenance work. Not a bad start.

Nick Langworthy — After successive losses for Carl Paladino, Jane Corwin and now Chris Collins, the Erie County Republican chairman should check the back of his suit jacket for a big bull’s-eye. Doubts about Langworthy’s ability to continue are at an all-time high, and Buffalo Republicans are reportedly casting around for a new leader. Erie Democrats may be in the same, if not worse, shape, but the GOP will need to make a decision before the 2012 campaign season kicks into full gear.

John Liu — The New York Post called him a “Liu-ser” on the front page yesterday. We must concur. The federal investigation into his alleged straw donors threatens to blow away Liu’s promising mayoral campaign, likely slowing his fundraising and scaring away supporters. Just don’t expect a mea culpa anytime soon: Liu has handled past indiscretions – like massive exaggerations about purported childhood work at a sweatshop – with unflinching gusto.

Robert Odawi Porter — The president of the Seneca Nation of Indians is embroiled in a fight over the tribe’s leadership amid back-and-forth accusations of nepotism, loan-sharking and what critics say is Porter’s dictatorial leadership style. The disagreements prompted the Seneca Tribal Council to oust Porter as CEO on Saturday, though a clerk reinstated him a day later. Yet tensions remain, especially in the wake of failed efforts to address disagreements with the state over cigarette taxes and revenue-sharing from casino gambling. Let’s hope the report of peacemaking in the Buffalo News can stick.

Kathleen Rice — The Nassau County District Attorney is having a “ruff” time with her landlord. Rice, who has taken a tough stance prosecuting drunk driving and Medicaid fraud, now finds herself on the other side of a case, this one defending her adorable little dog, Pearl. Because of the pooch, the prosecutor faces eviction from her apartment. But Rice is not all bark and no bite: she’s fighting back, arguing that dogs were allowed when she bought the apartment in 2007.

Sheldon Silver — And you thought New York’s infrastructure was in bad shape! The Assembly speaker found out Puerto Rico’s was even worse when he hit a pothole and flew off his rented bicycle during a leisurely ride at the Somos El Futuro conference. It seemed to mirror the speaker’s plight in New York’s power structure: the governor muscled state Democratic Party leadership into keeping an extension of the millionaires’ tax out of the party platform – though that’s a signature issue for Silver, his conference and labor. But Silver got at least one piece of consoling news: Paul Newell, the Lower Manhattan district leader who primaried him in 2008, was arrested during the raid of Zuccotti Park. That probably had Silver in stitches for the second time this week.

Read the full post at City Hall News.

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