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Ranking city’s and state’s most influential players

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For the past month, my colleagues in the editorial department of City & State magazine have been debating the rankings in our annual New York City Power 100 List.

Each February, the publication that comprehensively covers politics on the city and state level ranks who is up and who is down in New York.

It always amazes me how seriously those on the list (and those who have fallen off) take this issue and the pecking order it delineates.

In previous years, the big question always was: Who has a bigger impact on the five boroughs, the mayor or the governor?

In 2014, our editors gave the nod to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was pushing through his ambitious progressive agenda.

But for the next two years, it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who landed on top because of his superior powers and his ability to outplay the mayor in their ongoing rivalry.

But in 2017, we have a very different political scene: the new president is a New Yorker, while the head of the political resistance, the Democratic minority leader of the Senate, hails from Brooklyn.

Where should these two powerful national figures fit on the list that measures power and influence on New York City only?

Thus began an interesting look at what’s at stake locally in a Trump administration. Because of the president’s overzealous plan to crack down on undocumented immigrants, New York, like other big cities, could lose billions in federal aid. That would blow a hole in the mayor’s $72-billion budget and necessitate cutbacks in services, raising taxes, or both.

But, my editors argued, there is one person who can possibly beat back this defunding of big cities — New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer.

And that is why Schumer is No. 1, Cuomo second, DeBlasio third and Trump fourth.

I’m sure many people will second-guess this ranking order, but that’s besides the point. The impetus behind producing power lists like this is to inform readers about who holds the levers of power and to reflect on what those people are doing with that transitory power.

That’s the thing about political power — in democracies it has a shelf life. One day you’re leader of the free world, like Obama was a month ago, and now he’s a regular citizen going to Broadway shows with his older daughter Malia.

One old boss of mine told me the story of how one year, because he was a high-ranking city official, he sat on the dais at a big dinner next to the mayor and governor. The next year, after he stepped down from his post, he wasn’t even invited to that dinner.

Power is fleeting, transitory, evanescent, and intoxicating.

Out president is enjoying all the attention he is getting. He should know that one year in the near future he may not even be invited to the White House Correspondents dinner.

Tom Allon, president of City & State NY, was a Republican and Liberal Party-backed mayoral candidate in 2013 before he left to return to the private sector. Reach him at tallon@cityandstateny.com.

Posted 12:00 am, March 3, 2017
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