The Influentials: PoliticsShareThis
With a salesman’s zeal and a technocrat’s mastery of detail, Doctoroff is orchestrating the most far-reaching changes to the physical city since you-know-who: new parks and immense residential developments on huge swaths of its waterfront; new stadiums in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx; and an explosion of development in every borough. Doctoroff’s two most visible projects—the West Side stadium and the plan to bring the 2012 Olympics to the city—showed the limits of his power, and his upscale vision of the modern city has angered some, but no one has done more to set the physical template for 21st-century New York.
Under Kelly, the NYPD is no longer just a police department. It’s a defense department, CIA, and emergency-management force rolled into one. After 9/11, when the federal government’s promises of funding and protection were found to be largely empty, Kelly, with Bloomberg’s help, filled the void, reinventing the Police Department for an age when terrorism is always a possibility. He’s also the New Yorker most responsible for healing the searing racial tensions left behind by Rudy Giuliani. And amazingly, he’s kept the crime numbers moving down.
The New York State Republican Party has offices and executives. Its heart and soul, however, remain where they’ve been for the past 25 years. D’Amato may yet succeed in crippling Bill Weld’s campaign for governor with well-timed barbs and warnings to potential campaign donors. And if the GOP’s statewide candidates are blown out this November, a certain well-connected lobbyist who last year helped Cablevision kill the West Side stadium will be perfectly positioned to step in as savior.
Rev. Floyd Flake
Pastor, Greater Allen Cathedral
He presides over a vast social service and religious empire ($24 million budget, 18,000 church members) from the pulpit of the Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens. Flake has built a private school for adolescents, low-cost homes for first-time buyers, and retirement complexes for senior citizens; the operation is Queens’s third-largest private employer. The reverend’s endorsement—and his black, middle-class, socially conservative, bootstrapping flock—is coveted by every city and state politician. Flake and his Allen African Methodist Episcopal church/corporation were a model of faith-based economic development long before the phrase was even hatched in some political consultant’s lab.
Rev. Calvin Butts
Pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church
As the leader of one of the city’s most important black churches, Butts has positioned himself as the moral voice of Harlem and made Abyssinian Baptist, with a congregation of 4,200, a mandatory stop for every campaigning politician. He’s also transformed his traditional 200-year-old parish into a multi-armed behemoth, spinning off a separate nonprofit branch that has put more than $300 million toward housing and commercial projects, spurring on Harlem’s economic renewal.
Randi Weingarten and the UFT command more headlines; Dennis Rivera and the health-care-workers union hold more sway in Albany. But Fishman has turned 32BJ—known as “the doormen’s union” but representing 60,000 security guards, window cleaners, and supers—into the city union with the greatest electoral potency. Fishman delivers troops and votes for candidates. His members reap the rewards: Fishman and 32BJ didn’t need a messy strike—only the threat of one—or any grandstanding jail term to win the local a generous new contract last month.
Executive director, ACORN
It’s the activist group that much of Brooklyn loves to hate: the one that supported Bruce Ratner’s Nets-arena project. But its members—poor people in Brooklyn and the Bronx—can’t afford to say no to a development promising new jobs and affordable housing. Headquartered on a dingy block in downtown Brooklyn, acorn, led by Lewis, its theatrical executive director, is part of a militant national advocacy group that has become very, very good at playing mainstream politics. acorn members co-founded the Working Families Party, whose endorsement is fought over by politicians seeking left-wing and labor support.
Five years later, he remains the walking symbol of September 11, especially outside New York. Even if he ultimately doesn’t run for president in 2008, he’ll significantly shape the Republican primary—any candidate who wants to be credible on national security needs a nod from Mr. Anti-Terror. If Rudy does run, his views on guns, gays, and abortions will prove whether a mainstream GOP actually exists anymore.