City Hall News: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be all over this week’s Winners & Losers, but we can’t figure out whether he had a great week or an awful one. By seemingly walking back his ironclad pledge not to raise taxes, Cuomo is either laying the groundwork to orchestrate a grand compromise on New York’s fiscal situation, or becoming a flip-flopper who alienates his carefully-won conservative allies. For everyone else on our list, the week was a little more definite.
Loretta Lynch — The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney held the same job at the end of the Clinton administration, when street crime was its top target. As the office turned its focus to white collar crime, some wondered whether Lynch had the experience to adapt. This week she answered that question by unveiling an almost idiot-proof case against Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. She hasn’t brought down any financial titans recently, unlike her Manhattan counterpart Preet Bharara, but she produced a Boyland complaint with so many incriminating wiretaps, emails and text messages that the defendant walked out of court looking like he had “I did it” tattooed on his forehead. Allegedly.
Eric Schneiderman — The attorney general finally got a chance to do what all law enforcement officials dream of doing: hold a press conference with a tableful of guns. Schneiderman got the chance to highlight a dangerous loophole in the state’s gun laws, while clearing up any confusion over who really is the state’s top cop. It’s unclear whether that will force Cuomo to reconsider giving Schneiderman special powers to investigate corruption, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Liz Krueger — She’s may be a self-confessed policy nerd, and she may be a member of a legislative conference most political insiders consider irrelevant, but the East Side senator should be feeling some pride after Cuomo confessed to be considering major changes to the state’s tax code. Krueger has long advocated for a tax overhaul, but whether the plan will be as liberal as the Manhattan Democrat would like it to be is anyone’s guess.
Carl Kruger — The holidays may be indeed be jolly at the 7,000-square foot waterfront mansion of Sen. Carl Kruger. In a little-noticed move just before Thanksgiving, prosecutors dropped all charges against developer Aaron Malinsky, who had been indicted on charges of paying nearly $500,000 to a shell company set up by Kruger. That came on the heels of Assemblyman William Boyland Jr.’s not-guilty verdict in his related federal case – and both cases bode well for Kruger’s own trial next year. He was once expected to cut a plea deal, but now we wouldn’t bet the house on it.
Eric Ulrich — The 26-year-old crown prince of the Queens Republican Party was selected as New York City chairman for GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney – though the honor seems to have been more about Ulrich’s connections with local GOP poo-bahs than with Romney, whom Ulrich has never met. Still, the honor for the up-and-coming Ulrich – who could well have been Congressman Ulrich if he’d run in a special election last summer – could be a blow to state Senate Republicans. The GOP is again hoping to take out Queens Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo in 2012, but Ulrich seems unlikely to run for Senate while running Romney’s local campaign. The more likely path is City Council minority leader after the 2013 elections — unless there’s a job waiting somewhere in the Romney administration.
John Liu– On the job, the city comptroller’s pension reform plan is under fire after two refugees from the failed MF Global ended up running city retirees’ investments. On the campaign trail, Liu’s aides Chung Seto and Mei-Hua Ru are in the crosshairs as federal prosecutors probe his fundraising. And Liu’s life is pretty much all about either the job and the campaign trail.
William Boyland Jr. – Two weeks after he walked free from Manhattan federal court, arms raised in triumph, the Brooklyn pol is back in hot water, this time with separate charges so brazen they formed immediate punch lines. Allegations that he solicited bribes from undercover feds to pay for lawyers to defend him the day after he was indicted in the separate case could land him in jail for up to 30 years. And unlike some of his corrupt Albany counterparts, all that alleged corruption didn’t make him any real money – an affidavit of his finances revealed he was too impoverished to afford his own defense.
Fred Dicker – The biggest voice in Albany couldn’t shame, cajole or bully Cuomo into sticking to his no-new-taxes pledge in an unusually harsh radio interview last week. The Post’s powerful state editor couldn’t even get Cuomo to acknowledge that “tax fairness” could mean breaking that pledge. But don’t expect him to taste failure for long – as Cuomo well knows, Dicker always gets his revenge.
David Abrams – The director of New York’s educational testing program resigned this week soon after the state Education Department hastily scrapped a controversial proposal that would have made elementary school kids sit through four-hour reading tests. The department has also gotten pushback lately from hundreds of principals opposed to a teacher evaluation system based on student test scores. Whether Abrams is a scapegoat for the problems or the actual cause of them is unclear, but the eight-year department veteran is out of a job either way.
Byron Brown – The mayor of Buffalo displayed a rare moment of peace with his fellow Democrats in Erie County recently when he endorsed Mark Poloncarz for county executive, albeit at the last minute. But he can’t seem to avoid controversy lately, as a former top aide admitted to stealing thousands of dollars in government funds. Questions remain about other potential abuses at a city economic development corporation, and the U.S. Attorney is pledging to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Even worse, Brown’s constituents might not get to watch the rest of the Buffalo Bills’ games on local TV due to a lack of tickets sold – and rumors are growing stronger that the team may pack up and move to Los Angeles.
Read the full post at City Hall News.