This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who’s up and who’s down this week?
December 19, 2019

Self-reflection can be such a drag. So it should come as no surprise that the ethically challenged Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted down a proposed review of its own operations. See, this way they can continue terrorizing rape victims for once hiring a plane to fly a banner ad, while conveniently waiting to investigate lawmakers until they’ve been out of office for ages, and allegedly leaking it all to the second floor. While JCOPE has the power to avoid taking a look in the mirror, there are plenty of Winners & Losers this week who aren’t so lucky.

Jazmine Headley

It’s been a long year for Jazmine Headley, the 24-year-old mother who spent four days in jail last December after her baby was violently ripped from her arms by police at a Brooklyn public benefits office – all over an argument about whether Headley could sit on the floor at the office. But 12 months later, Headley is likely looking at a decidedly merrier holiday season, as the city agreed to a $625,000 settlement over the incident this week. 

Jimmy Oddo

Staten Islanders’ working-class masses gotta gripe less now that the forgotten borough is leading the state in GDP growth. The borough president has played a big role in jumpstarting the island’s economy. Tourists even have more reasons than the free ferry view of the Statue of Liberty to attract them to the island, including top-tier shopping options and a rezoned waterfront. If other New Yorkers ever bothered to swing by, they might even convince all the Joe Six-Packs and Trumpistas out there that they really don’t need to secede from the five boroughs after all.

Andrew Cuomo

The governor got to show who’s boss when the MTA board approved the hiring of 500 new police officers, per his request. There will now be more cops walking the beat in New York City subways to deter crime big and small. Here’s hoping they play nice with the NYPD, who also patrols the system. Critics of the plan like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Michael Gianaris say the move threatens low-income people and the agency’s bottom line alike – yet somehow Cuomo got his way. It’s like he runs the place or something. 

Corey Johnson

Non-binary New Yorkers can now have their identity recognized from the day they were born until the day they die. The city’s Health Department approved a change that will add a third “X” option on death certificates for those who don’t identify as male or female. The move follows a bill signed into law last year that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson championed, adding a non-binary “X” option on birth certificates. Although changing one’s birth certificate is doable, requesting a change to your death certificate after the fact might be more of a challenge. So a proactive approach is perhaps prudent.

Norman Birenbaum

There’s a new cannabis czar in town – Norman Birenbaum got the gig as the governor’s new ganja guru. The timing couldn’t be better; stoners across the state have high hopes for the Legislature to finally make a pro-pot push after last year’s bill went up in smoke. So if the THC takeover happens as foretold, now Cuomo’s got a bud by his side to answer all his burning questions.

Donald Trump

He leaves New York, he gets impeached. We’re not saying the two are directly connected, but when the case is so bad that even Trump Country Reps. Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose are voting to give you the boot, you’ve got a real problem.

Cy Vance

Is the Manhattan DA trying a bit too hard to prove he’s anti-Trump? Vance got his mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort tossed by a state judge. Problem is, Manafort is already serving time in federal prison for the same crimes. Sure, the state passed a law this year to make sure Trump’s squad couldn’t avoid justice, but it came too late to apply to Manafort. And that’s bad for Vance – it was probably one of his last chances to get back in progressives’ good graces.

Thomas Spota

No story that begins with sex toys, pornography and a corrupt police chief ends with an innocent man. Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota was found guilty of obstructing justice in covering up for former county police chief James Burke, when the latter beat up a man accused of stealing his duffel bag of dildos. The verdict brings an end to the seven-year-long saga, but that’s a fraction of the up to 20 years Spota now faces in prison. 

Mickey Kearns and Frank Merola

Try as they might, these two upstate county clerks were unable to keep undcoumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses. Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola had his lawsuit thrown out a day before the Green Light Law went into effect. Now’s he’s claiming his staff hasn’t been properly trained as an excuse for not yet accepting applications. Talk about a sore loser. And Erie County Clerk Mickey Kerns got put in his place by the MTA after he tried to use the authority’s “see something, say something” slogan to encourage DMV-goers to call ICE on suspected undocumented immigrants. 

Gregory Russ

He's making a list. He's checking twice. He's gonna tell all of New York City who's naughty or nice. That's right – it's Public Advocate Jumaane Williams with this year’s “Worst Landlord" list. And it seems that the New York City Housing Authority and its CEO Gregory Russ are set to get a big fat lump of coal for being the naughtiest of them all for the second year in a row. With 342,840 open work orders, NYCHA might need some reindeer traveling at the speed of light to clean up its act. 

City & State