City & State: This Week's Political Winners & Losers
Probably you were spending the week with one eye on the task at hand, and the other on your Livestream of the Olympic games in London, chanting "USA! USA!" under your breath while you pretended to go about your business. But maybe you were also reading some scathing reports on the New York City Housing Authority, or pondering the fate of the HRA employee who let one of his welfare clients babysit his pet ferret. Maybe you were eating a Chik-Fil-A sandwich and pondering civil liberties. While you were doing any and all of the above, the week's political types were sealing their own fates, either as irrepressible winners or, as their unhappy counterparts, the losers.
Stu Loeser -One of the biggest winners this week is a Loeser.* The mayor's top defender finally beat his way out of City Hall, leaving on a high note, like Friends or Seinfeld, or any of the New York-based television shows the avowed culture maven found time to keep up with despite the 24/7 nature of his job. His sparring style and his odd hats will be missed, but his general fairness is his finest quality.
Ravi Batra ? The controversial member of the state's Joint Commission of Public Ethics spoke out publicly against his group's curious decision allowing lobbying groups to skirt disclosure requirements for donations made before July 1, which includes the Cuomo-friendly business organization, the Committee to Save New York. Batra has taken heat for his ties to the Brooklyn Democratic Machine, but earned praise from ethics watchdogs around the state for calling out the commission's sign off on state secrecy.
Ray Kelly -After taking heat all summer for the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy, the police commissioner earned some support when Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. said that they would reconsider objections to the policy following the shooting of 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan. Several newspapers also positively covered Kelly's meeting this week with outspoken activist Lenora Fulani,who has tried to encourage interactions between police officers and black and Latino teenagers, but has also been criticized in the past for unapologetically making remarks that some considered anti-Semitic.
Hamdi Ulukaya ? The hyperbole in the idiomatic expression "the greatest thing since sliced bread" is implied, but this week brought the advent of the Chobani yogurt bar, which, judging from the Greek yogurt brand's success, might actually deserve the "greatest" title. Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya built up his Greek yogurt business from nothing, and now it's one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's favorites, a home-grown (home-cultured?) success that serves as a symbol of New York businesses' potential. We raise our spoons to Mr. Ulukaya.
*We had to do it. We're not sorry.
John Rhea ? The NYCHA Board Chairman is the public face of a scandal that seems to be picking up speed, as Daily News reports on a billion dollars in unspent funds and uninstalled security cameras make the country's largest public housing agency seem bloated, and, dangerously for Mr. Rhea, mismanaged. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is standing by Rhea so far, but that doesn't mean Rhea isn't being subjected to withering criticism from NYCHA residents, political aspirants and the public at large.
Shirley Huntley ? The Rev. Floyd Flake, a highly influential figure in southeast Queens, announced that he is backing Huntley's primary Senate primary challenger, Councilman James Sanders. 32 BJ, the influential building workers' union, announced that it was backing every Democratic incumbent in New York City - except Huntley, in a race where the union will stay neutral. And it was reported that Huntley was tied for missing the most days of anyone in the Senate during the legislative session. Still, we must note that we feel a little bad about piling onto Huntley's bad week, since she recently broke her ankle while fighting to hold onto her seat.
Liz Crowley ? Say it ain't so, Joe! Congressman Joe Crowley delivered the coup de grace to his cousin, Councilwoman Liz Crowley, and her hopes of remaining a Queens Democratic Party district leader. In retaliation for Liz Crowley running for Congress against his wishes, the Joe Crowley-chaired Queens Democrats first refused to help Liz petition in her district leader run - then had one of the party's lawyers get her knocked off the ballot this week, even though she was running unopposed. Forget Mindy Meyer. We need a reality TV show about the Crowley family.
Thomas Madison- You might guess that any toll increases on the New York State Thruway would help pay for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, a major priority for the Cuomo administration, which is still figuring out how to afford a replacement. But instead of going toward a new $5 billion bridge, critics say much of a 45 percent toll hike for trucks will pay for the upkeep of theErie Canal, a money pit that costs the state of $90 million a year and brings in only around $2 million.There's probably not muchMadison, the Thruway Authority's executive director,can do about it, but it looks like he's up a canal without a paddle.
Paul Feiner- The Greenburgh town supervisor's dreamy vision of a High Line-style park connecting WestchesterandRocklandcounties was shattered when a new federal study determined that the agingTappan ZeeBridgewould be torn down onceareplacement is built. Feiner had advocated for keeping the old span in place, saving money on demolition costs and creating a trans-Hudson recreational space for bikers and walkers. In February Cuomoevencalled the idea an "exciting option" ? but the studythis weeksaid it wasn't "prudent or feasible."
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