Here is my take on the political winners and losers in this year’s game of New York politics.
Peter King: As a member of Congress for 28 years, King has served his nation and his constituents with distinction. He proved that being civil in the political arena pays off. A public official since he was elected to the Hempstead Town Council in 1971, King should be the model for politicians of every stripe.
Tom DiNapoli: The state comptroller has used his audit powers effectively to expose government incompetence, waste and corruption. He determined that the Empire State Development Corporation squandered hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in high-technology projects that have not produced intended results. He revealed the state’s Medicaid leviathan made more than $700 million in unnecessary costs and overpayments. And he has been alerting state and local governments to the devastating impact the economic shutdown is having on their operating budgets.
Laura Curran: In fiscal 2019, the county executive achieved the first balanced budget according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in a long time. In 2020, she has worked effectively with the Nassau Interim Finance Board to address the fiscal crisis caused by the governor’s shutdown of the economy.
Lee Zeldin: Contrary to Democratic Party expectations, Zeldin was re-elected in a landslide, receiving 61 percent of the vote. The voters rewarded him because as The Almanac of American Politics has pointed out, “he was responsive to local sentiments, including his opposition to Republican tax cuts that capped the deduction for state and local taxes employed by his affluent and highly taxed constituents.”
Andrew Garbarino: The Republican state assemblyman defied the pundits and kept Peter King’s congressional seat in the red column. Hopefully, Garbarino’s predecessor serves as his model when he gets to Washington in January.
Andrew Cuomo: The governor refuses to admit that he made a reckless policy decision that cost the lives of over 6,000 seniors in nursing homes throughout the state. His book promoting his leadership skills during the pandemic is an insult to the memory of the nursing home victims and their grieving families.
Bill de Blasio: The city’s lazy and incompetent mayor has been unable to come to grips with the gravity of the issues New Yorkers are grappling with. If Gov. Cuomo does not reactivate the Financial Control Board to seize control of the city’s finances, he will be guilty of permitting the city, under the insouciant leadership of de Blasio, to continue on the treadmill to fiscal, economic and social oblivion.
Rudy Giuliani: His ludicrous “election fraud” antics on national television destroyed his reputation as “America’s Mayor.” Going forward, he should limit his appearances to his favorite watering hole, The Club Macanudo, located on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper East Side.
Jack Schnirman: Nassau’s county’s comptroller, a self-proclaimed “fiscal watchdog,” appears to have been asleep in the dog house. When he left his post as Long Beach City manager, he didn’t figure out he was overpaid $53,000 in severance pay. How absurd is that for someone who claims he knows the buck? The DA’s probe justifiably concluded that Schnirman and other Long Beach officials were guilty of “egregious incompetence.” Another blunder: the county’s inspector general reported in November that “a fraud scam against the Nassau’s comptroller’s office found controls were ‘not effective’ in preventing a scheme in which $2.1 million in payments were approved for transfer to a fraudster’s bank account.”
Richard Nicolello: The longtime county legislator, who voted for budgets in the 1990s that brought the county to the edge of bankruptcy and subsequently voted for the creation of NIFA to rescue it, is now trying to prevent NIFA from helping the county save millions of dollars in debt interest payments. His reason for stonewalling: NIFA members had been mean to a Republican county executive. He’s referring to the convicted felon and fiscal bungler Ed Mangano. How sad is that excuse for inaction?
Kevin Law: Suffolk County’s MTA board member came up with the dopiest idea of the year: to address the transportation agency’s projected $16 billion deficit through 2024, he called for cutting fares in 2021 “to generate more revenues by increasing ridership than if we increase fares and continued the depressed ridership.” Apparently, Law fails to grasp that LIRR ridership is down over 75 percent because people are working remotely and safely from home with their employer’s blessing. Hence, dropping the fare a buck or two will not convince these mostly white-collar workers to become dashing commuters. In addition, cutting fares will be a slap in the face to first responders and essential workers who have risked their lives taking public transportation throughout the pandemic while paying full fares.