City and State: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Federal Magistrate Roanne Mann surprised us all by releasing her Congressional maps a week early — and promptly sent New York’s political world into a frenzy of analysis, cross-analysis, joy, despair and resignation. But who wins the week? And more importantly, who loses?
Thomas Farley – The A, B and C letter grades for New York City restaurants haven’t pleased everyone, least of all their owners, but the city’s health commissioner has touted a drop in salmonella infections, restaurants overall have been making more money, and the city has been bringing in more revenue from fines. Whether that’s all connected isn’t entirely clear, but survey data shows most restaurant-goers like the ratings. Meanwhile, the commissioner’s success in cutting smoking is well-documented, most recently in a Surgeon General report highlighting the city’s substantial smoking decline among high schoolers while “the rate nationally remained unchanged.”
Kirsten Gillibrand – Her numbers are inching up, and her Republican challengers are failing to ignite any passion among the state’s primary voters. Which is not to say that they are a lost cause. The primary and general election are still a ways off. But if the anemic GOP presidential contest is any indication of how motivated Republicans will be to go to the polls, it seems likely that she can count on being in Washington for the next six years.
Pat Kiernan –New York City’s favorite Canadian has been trying to elevate his low-key charm from NY1 to the national (American) stage for quite a while. He got his chance when he co-hosted “Live! With Kelly” this week, and the reviews were terrific. Now the whole (American) country knows what “In The Papers” is about. Is Kiernan-mania about to explode?
Teresa Sayward – The Republican Assemblywoman announced this week that much like Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, she would be leaving the Legislature on a high note. That makes her one of the few Albany politicians leaving public office of her own volition – and not because she was voted out, died or exited the Capitol in handcuffs. She was one of few Republicans to vote for gay marriage, and said the vote was her proudest Albany moment. In a place where most people don’t know when to hang up their hats, she quit while she was ahead.
Sam Schwartz – “Gridlock” Sam has worked for a long, long time on his version of charging drivers to enter central Manhattan. Even after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing and former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch’s bridge tolls failed, Schwartz kept at it. It got polite interest but not much traction in New York’s transportation circles, until Bill Keller praised it in the New York Times last week. Now he’s being hailed as a visionary. That’s how New York works sometimes.
Mario Cilento – Cilento’s New York State AFL-CIO represents about 2.5 million workers, but even with that sizeable constituency it’s still treading carefully in its efforts to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for pension reform. Its stepped-up TV ad campaign against a new pension tier directs most of its criticism at “Wall Street, big banks and corporate CEOs” and “some politicians in Albany” – but only briefly mentions the governor, who is leading the effort to create Tier VI, and then only as a potential savior. And since the pension tier would only apply to future workers, the portrayal of current workers who would suffer seems misleading at best.
James DiBella – Sen. Greg Ball is attacking Rep. Nan Hayworth. Assemblyman Steve Katz is attacking Ball. Businessman Dario Gristina is attacking Katz. And the tabloids are hounding Gristina, whose ex-wife, the Manhattan Madam, is in jail and all over the news. What’s going on in Putnam County? Is there something in the water? Or is local GOP chairman James DiBella asleep at the wheel? This level of inter-party squabbling can’t be good for the party’s bottom line. Let’s hope no more animals are harmed during the course of this brouhaha.
Hakeem Jeffries – Is the dream over for Hakeem? We won’t know until congressional lines are finalized. But a federal magistrate’s decision to cut his Assembly district out of Congressman Ed Towns’ proposed new district would make it very difficult to go forward with a long-planned congressional run. We just can’t help but note the irony that Jeffries – who starred in a film about the ills of gerrymandering – may be thwarted by lines drawn by an impartial federal judge. In fact, his only hope of making it to Congress may be through more gerrymandering.
Tom Libous – The Senate’s deputy majority leader is one of the smartest men in the Legislature, but testimony in a federal corruption trial this week suggested he may have made the foolish mistake of peddling his influence in exchange for a job for one of his sons. The charges may be false, but it never helps a sitting legislator, especially during the middle of budget season, when rumors are swirling. After all, this is Albany, where no one, not even the governor, gets a free pass anymore.
Bob Turner – The Brooklyn/Queens congressman hasn’t seen a reality this bad since he was overseeing the paternity test episodes on the Jerry Springer show. His district was cut into about five different districts – his main base is in Rep. Greg Meeks’ district – leaving him few options for 2012. But at least he has a friend in Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is likely to go to the mat for Turner in court, as the Legislature tries to hash out a last-minute agreement.