This week's biggest Winners & Losers

This week's biggest Winners & Losers

Who's up and who's down this week?
February 27, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his own beer. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has his own way of eating a bagel. And now we’ve learned that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has own secret food obsession: cheesecake. “Guilty as charged,” the Senate minority leader confessed. “I love Junior's cheesecake.” To get a taste of who’s up and who’s down this week, bite into this week’s Winners & Losers. 

Winners: 
Mark Levine

There’s nothing quite like cold, hard facts to prove that your bill is a success. And during a campaign for Manhattan borough president no less! In the two years after New York City Councilman Mark Levine’s Right to Counsel law passed in 2017, evictions covered by the law decreased nearly 30%. The legislation provides low-income tenants with free legal services for housing court, similar to how criminal defendants have access to free public defenders. Now Levine just needs to figure out how to turn this data into a snappy slogan.

Samelys López

Hitting the pavement for AOC pays off! Two years after Samelys López helped get the congressional celebrity elected, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is trying to return the favor. AOC’s PAC is backing López in her bid to replace retiring Rep. José Serrano – a crowded field in which any advantage helps. And having AOC’s backing – even if not an *official* endorsement from the freshman icon – is bound to get her attention.

Usher Piller

The third year's the charm for Usher Piller, who's finally being reinstated to his state job, with $235,000 in back-pay waiting for him. The high-profile PEF union activist successfully held on to the job after his superiors tried to give the boot for nearly three years. It wasn't all killer news for Piller – an arbitrator did find him guilty of insubordination and misconduct and called for a six-month suspension. But luckily for him, he had already done enough time for the crime since he'd already been off the job for years. Seems patience really is a virtue.

Janet Sabel

The NYPD's decision to rely on a DNA database with many innocent people, including children as young as 12, has unsurprisingly been controversial. So the police department decided to ease up some of those rules, no longer pulling genetic material from youth – for the most part – and letting those acquitted of crimes get their DNA out of law enforcement’s hands. The Legal Aid Society’s Janet Sabel isn't satisfied yet, but it's a step forward for her organization’s push for privacy and against a practice they’ve dubbed “genetic stop-and-frisk.”

Cy Vance

He may not quite be at the level of the vaunted assistant district attorneys of “Law & Order: SVU” that made sex offenders shake in their boots, but Cy Vance is getting better. He drew harsh criticism over his office’s decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015, after a model accused the movie mogul of sexual abuse. But Weinstein’s two guilty verdicts this week may go a long way towards repairing his tarnished reputation and helping him fend off primary challengers nipping at his heels. 

Losers: 
Josh Eisen

Rumors – and only rumors – of Donald Trump using the n-word on tape have followed the president for years. But Republican congressional candidate Josh Eisen, running to replace Rep. Nita Lowey, *does* seem to have such a record. And much more. City & State uncovered court records showing the Westchester businessman using the racial epithet and harassing legal opponents – and their family members – so badly that he got arrested and fined. He’s since deleted his Twitter, and said he’d drop out of the race.

Sheldon Silver

It’s been a long and winding road for the disgraced ex-Assembly speaker, who not so long ago was one of the most powerful men in the state. In the latest legal chapter since his first corruption conviction in 2015, Silver just lost another appeal, leaving him to hope and pray that the U.S. Supreme Court takes up his case. And even if the esteemed justices find their docket too full, the silver lining for Silver is that he’s been able to stay of prison so long.

Harvey Weinstein

Disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree. While he managed to evade the most serious charge facing him – two counts of predatory sexual assault – he won’t be able to avoid a prison sentence, which could be as long as 25 years. Weinstein was shipped to Rikers for his sentencing, a far cry from the lavish life he used to live.

Jerry Wolkoff

Developer Jerry Wolkoff will have to pay millions of dollars in damages to 21 5Pointz artists for destroying their graffiti murals to make way for his new luxury residential towers. Why does Wolkoff have to pay for other people spray painting the building he owns? Well, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Wolkoff’s destruction of the murals was a violation of the federal Visual Artists Rights Act.

Howard Zemsky

This week, the news broke that Panasonic is ending its business partnership with Tesla at the Riverbend site, a linchpin of the governor’s Buffalo Billion intiatitive. Say this about Howard Zemsky – the state’s longtime economic development guru and Gov. Andrew Cuomo cheerleader-in-chief always finds a way to put a positive spin on negative news. In this case, Zemsky claimed it “has no bearing” on Tesla, which, he added, would snap up some of the Panasonic employees. Then again, Buffalonians have heard promises like that before that have yet to pan out.

City & State
20200601