Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/city-council 2018-01-22T10:10:42+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Ritchie Torres on The New Council & His New Role 2018-01-17T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-17T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7426:max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-ritchie-torres-on-the-new-council-his-new-role Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 17, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Ritchie Torres<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ritchie-torres-277px.jpg" alt="ritchie torres 277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres is very excited about the new class of the City Council and his role in it -- he's been named by new Speaker Corey Johnson to chair the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, with a promise to beef the committee's staff so that it can be a powerful force in holding city government accountable.</p> <p>Torres joined the podcast to discuss that role and how he will approach it, as well as other Council and political dynamics, including his own bid for the speakership that came up short, his decision to leave the Progressive Caucus, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>, with guest <a href="https://twitter.com/RitchieTorres" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@RitchieTorres</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/385080701&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 17, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Ritchie Torres<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ritchie-torres-277px.jpg" alt="ritchie torres 277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres is very excited about the new class of the City Council and his role in it -- he's been named by new Speaker Corey Johnson to chair the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, with a promise to beef the committee's staff so that it can be a powerful force in holding city government accountable.</p> <p>Torres joined the podcast to discuss that role and how he will approach it, as well as other Council and political dynamics, including his own bid for the speakership that came up short, his decision to leave the Progressive Caucus, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>, with guest <a href="https://twitter.com/RitchieTorres" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@RitchieTorres</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/385080701&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 15 2018-01-14T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-14T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7420:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-15 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week begins with celebrations and rememberances of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tuesday will see Governor Andrew Cuomo present his Executive Budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year that begins April 1. We'll be not only watching the presentation and the details of the budget, but how Mayor Bill de Blasio and others in the city react to Cuomo's fiscal plan, which is a starting point of hearings and negotiations with the state Legislature.</p> <p>There are filing deadlines this week for the final period of the 2017 city election cycle and the first period of the 2018 state election cycle.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As always, there's a lot happening all over the city - see our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are celebrations across the city honoring Dr. King.</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday, City Council Member Jumaane Williams “will deliver the keynote address at the Salem Missionary Baptist Church 'Making the Dream a Reality' event...Williams will make a major announcement.”</p> <p>At about 12:15 p.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the annual BAM tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.</p> <p>There will be a mid-day rally on Monday at Judson Memorial Church to support immigrant and activist Ravi Ragbir, who is now facing deportation.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other top Democrats will appear at the National Action Network’s event with Reverend Al Sharpton. Participants will include Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; a number of members of Congress; Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James; City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Jeff Klein; and others.</p> <p>Public Advocate James is speaking at seven Martin Luther King Day events across four boroughs on Monday.</p> <p>There will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/780877325431513/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a rally</a> on Monday at 2:30 p.m. in Times Square to protest President Trump and his recent remarks about Haitians, African countries, and others. The rally is being organized by labor unions, progressive groups, activists, and others. Several top elected officials will participate; Mayor de Blasio and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be among those delivering remarks.</p> <p>At 4 p.m. Monday, Assemblymember Michael Blake will host his <a href="https://act.myngp.com/voteblake/2018stateofdistrict" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State of the District</a> speech for the 79th District, at the Concourse Village Community Center in the Bronx.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />Tuesday is the deadline to file for the final campaign finance period of the 2017 New York City election cycle -- for December 1, 2017 to January 11, 2018 fundraising and spending. The City Campaign Finance Board has already begun posting filings of campaigns that filed before the deadline.</p> <p>The State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p>The Assembly Standing Committees on Local Governments and Cities will meet jointly at 10 a.m. in Albany for a budget oversight hearing to “examine the implementation of County-Wide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plans as required in the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.”</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Tuesday, ""Mayor de Blasio will deliver keys to a senior signing his lease and moving into a new affordable housing development. The Mayor will host a media availability to discuss progress on building and protecting affordable housing and tenants across New York City." This will occur in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. In the evening, the Mayor will appear on NY1's Inside City Hall, during the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 11 a.m., Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will attend the inauguration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver his 2018 Executive Budget Address at the New York State Museum in Albany.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday the City Council will have a full-body Stated Meeting at City Hall. Prior to that, the Committee on Finance will hold an 11 a.m. hearing.</p> <p>At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections will hold a commissioners’ meeting.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 5 p.m., Comptroller Scott Stringer&nbsp;will host a Staten Island "Workforce Forum" at Brighton Heights Reformed Church. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at the Staten Island Community Board 2 Full Board Meeting, at Sea View Hospital.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/45-years-after-roe-v-wade-tickets-41051177176">45 Years after Roe v Wade</a>,” discussing the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court case, which established the constitutional right to get an abortion. Panelists will include NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, writer Rebecca Traister, and author Katha Pollitt.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />The State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at Spector Hall.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio will host a <a href="https://benkallos.com/event/january-town-hall-mayor-bill-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">town hall meeting</a> at East Side Middle School 114 on the Upper East Side with City Council Member Ben Kallos, U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright. (The event was originally scheduled for December but was cancelled when the Mayor caught the flu.)</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Museum of the City of New York will host “Only in New York: Gender and Justice,” moderated by Sarah Maslin Nir of the New York Times and featuring Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Lucy Lang and Vivian Nixon of the College &amp; Community Fellowship, discussing the “fraught relationship between gender and justice in New York City.”</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />At 10 a.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a board meeting at 100 Church Street in Manhattan.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) will host its <a href="https://www.rebny.com/content/rebny/en/Event_Calendar/event.html/REBNY_122nd_Annual_Banquet_992.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">122nd Annual Banquet</a> at the Midtown Hilton. The guest of honor will be U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be given the John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award.</p> <p>The organization Stop REBNY Bullies will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/335409353601798/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">protesting</a> outside the REBNY banquet, accusing REBNY of being “leaders in gentrifying NYC, ending rent stabilization, bankrolling the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in Albany, bulldozing historic buildings and neighborhoods, busting construction unions and blocking passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA).”</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />Mayor de Blasio is expected to make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Saturday, women and allies will converge in New York and cities across the country for the <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-womens-march-on-nyc-tickets-39150171216" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 Women’s March</a>, one year after millions of people protested against Donald Trump the day after he was inaugurated. In New York, the march will begin at 72nd and Central Park West and end in a rally at Columbus Circle, featuring #metoo founder Tarana Burke and several other speakers.</p> <p>At noon Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Keith Powers will be inaugurated in a ceremony at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Justin Brannan will be inaugurated in a ceremony at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Mark Gjonaj will be inaugurated in a ceremony at the Herbert H. Lehman Educational Complex in Westchester Square, the Bronx.</p> <p>At 3 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Carlina Rivera <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-ceremony-for-council-member-carlina-rivera-registration-41519648386" target="_blank" rel="noopener">will be inaugurated</a> in a ceremony at Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week begins with celebrations and rememberances of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tuesday will see Governor Andrew Cuomo present his Executive Budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year that begins April 1. We'll be not only watching the presentation and the details of the budget, but how Mayor Bill de Blasio and others in the city react to Cuomo's fiscal plan, which is a starting point of hearings and negotiations with the state Legislature.</p> <p>There are filing deadlines this week for the final period of the 2017 city election cycle and the first period of the 2018 state election cycle.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As always, there's a lot happening all over the city - see our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are celebrations across the city honoring Dr. King.</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday, City Council Member Jumaane Williams “will deliver the keynote address at the Salem Missionary Baptist Church 'Making the Dream a Reality' event...Williams will make a major announcement.”</p> <p>At about 12:15 p.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the annual BAM tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.</p> <p>There will be a mid-day rally on Monday at Judson Memorial Church to support immigrant and activist Ravi Ragbir, who is now facing deportation.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other top Democrats will appear at the National Action Network’s event with Reverend Al Sharpton. Participants will include Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; a number of members of Congress; Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James; City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Jeff Klein; and others.</p> <p>Public Advocate James is speaking at seven Martin Luther King Day events across four boroughs on Monday.</p> <p>There will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/780877325431513/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a rally</a> on Monday at 2:30 p.m. in Times Square to protest President Trump and his recent remarks about Haitians, African countries, and others. The rally is being organized by labor unions, progressive groups, activists, and others. Several top elected officials will participate; Mayor de Blasio and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be among those delivering remarks.</p> <p>At 4 p.m. Monday, Assemblymember Michael Blake will host his <a href="https://act.myngp.com/voteblake/2018stateofdistrict" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State of the District</a> speech for the 79th District, at the Concourse Village Community Center in the Bronx.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />Tuesday is the deadline to file for the final campaign finance period of the 2017 New York City election cycle -- for December 1, 2017 to January 11, 2018 fundraising and spending. The City Campaign Finance Board has already begun posting filings of campaigns that filed before the deadline.</p> <p>The State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p>The Assembly Standing Committees on Local Governments and Cities will meet jointly at 10 a.m. in Albany for a budget oversight hearing to “examine the implementation of County-Wide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plans as required in the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.”</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Tuesday, ""Mayor de Blasio will deliver keys to a senior signing his lease and moving into a new affordable housing development. The Mayor will host a media availability to discuss progress on building and protecting affordable housing and tenants across New York City." This will occur in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. In the evening, the Mayor will appear on NY1's Inside City Hall, during the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 11 a.m., Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will attend the inauguration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver his 2018 Executive Budget Address at the New York State Museum in Albany.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday the City Council will have a full-body Stated Meeting at City Hall. Prior to that, the Committee on Finance will hold an 11 a.m. hearing.</p> <p>At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections will hold a commissioners’ meeting.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 5 p.m., Comptroller Scott Stringer&nbsp;will host a Staten Island "Workforce Forum" at Brighton Heights Reformed Church. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at the Staten Island Community Board 2 Full Board Meeting, at Sea View Hospital.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/45-years-after-roe-v-wade-tickets-41051177176">45 Years after Roe v Wade</a>,” discussing the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court case, which established the constitutional right to get an abortion. Panelists will include NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, writer Rebecca Traister, and author Katha Pollitt.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />The State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at Spector Hall.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio will host a <a href="https://benkallos.com/event/january-town-hall-mayor-bill-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">town hall meeting</a> at East Side Middle School 114 on the Upper East Side with City Council Member Ben Kallos, U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright. (The event was originally scheduled for December but was cancelled when the Mayor caught the flu.)</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Museum of the City of New York will host “Only in New York: Gender and Justice,” moderated by Sarah Maslin Nir of the New York Times and featuring Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Lucy Lang and Vivian Nixon of the College &amp; Community Fellowship, discussing the “fraught relationship between gender and justice in New York City.”</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />At 10 a.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a board meeting at 100 Church Street in Manhattan.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) will host its <a href="https://www.rebny.com/content/rebny/en/Event_Calendar/event.html/REBNY_122nd_Annual_Banquet_992.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">122nd Annual Banquet</a> at the Midtown Hilton. The guest of honor will be U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be given the John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award.</p> <p>The organization Stop REBNY Bullies will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/335409353601798/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">protesting</a> outside the REBNY banquet, accusing REBNY of being “leaders in gentrifying NYC, ending rent stabilization, bankrolling the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in Albany, bulldozing historic buildings and neighborhoods, busting construction unions and blocking passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA).”</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />Mayor de Blasio is expected to make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Saturday, women and allies will converge in New York and cities across the country for the <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-womens-march-on-nyc-tickets-39150171216" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 Women’s March</a>, one year after millions of people protested against Donald Trump the day after he was inaugurated. In New York, the march will begin at 72nd and Central Park West and end in a rally at Columbus Circle, featuring #metoo founder Tarana Burke and several other speakers.</p> <p>At noon Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Keith Powers will be inaugurated in a ceremony at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Justin Brannan will be inaugurated in a ceremony at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Mark Gjonaj will be inaugurated in a ceremony at the Herbert H. Lehman Educational Complex in Westchester Square, the Bronx.</p> <p>At 3 p.m. Sunday, newly-elected City Council Member Carlina Rivera <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-ceremony-for-council-member-carlina-rivera-registration-41519648386" target="_blank" rel="noopener">will be inaugurated</a> in a ceremony at Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> New City Council Committee Chairs Have Plenty on Their Plates 2018-01-11T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-11T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7419:new-city-council-committee-chairs-have-plenty-on-their-plates Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/25610093938_e706039a14_z.jpg" alt="City Council Speaker Corey Johnson members" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>Members of th new City Council with Speaker Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The new class of the New York City Council took greater shape on Thursday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7418-city-council-names-new-committee-chairs-and-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">with the appointment of chairs and members to the 40-plus committees and subcommittees</a> that oversee the broad legislative, land use, and oversight roles of the 51-member body. Most returning Council members were reassigned to lead different committees while some remained in the positions they’ve served the past four years. New Speaker Corey Johnson also chose to create a few new committees to boost staff levels in certain areas and to better address specific issues that were subsumed under broader committee purviews. </p> <p>In their new roles, many of the committee chairs will have to navigate a slate of issues, which in many cases will likely lead them into direct confrontation with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. This holds particularly true for the powerful land use and finance committees, both of which have new Council members at the helm. Speaker Johnson has also pledged broader independence from the mayor than his predecessor, indicating that members will be allowed, and even encouraged, to take the administration to task. He has pledged an enhanced oversight and investigations committee to lead the way in that regard.</p> <p>Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. of the Bronx was appointed chair of the land use committee, which is tasked with overseeing and reviewing land use applications, zoning amendment,s and landmark preservation in the city. Since the committee has the final say on any development projects that require city government approval, it plays a prominent role in determining the success of the mayor’s affordable housing program, in particular thus far by approving comprehensive, and controversial, neighborhood rezonings in communities such as East New York and East Harlem.</p> <p>The city is exploring similar rezonings -- to create more affordable housing while also injecting economic energy and other benefits into neighborhoods -- in the Bay Street corridor on Staten Island, Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, and Flushing, Queens, among other communities. “Our city is at a crossroads, including my community in the South Bronx,” Salamanca said in a statement Thursday. The City Council, he said, “should be on the front lines on shaping the planning, development and all other land use actions in a way that listens to and addresses the concerns of all New Yorkers.” Freshman Council Member Francisco Moya is heading up the subcommittee on zoning and franchises which falls under Salamanca’s purview. </p> <p>The finance committee, led by its new chair Council Member Daniel Dromm of Queens, also has a tough task ahead as it heads into budget season. Dromm will lead the Council’s negotiations with the administration over the $86 billion-plus city budget. The mayor is expected to release his fiscal year 2019 preliminary budget proposal later this month and the administration has been bracing for cuts in federal funding, threatened by the Trump administration, and a widely expected economic slowdown after years of continuous growth.</p> <p>Last year, the Council advocated for increased savings and reduced agency inefficiencies even as they called for new funding for Council priorities. “I intend to use this position to move a progressive budget forward working closely with Speaker Corey Johnson who I thank for giving me this opportunity to serve,” Dromm said in a statement. </p> <p>The Council’s budget hearings will no doubt also touch on the city’s $96 billion capital budget. Numerous Council members called last year for increased transparency in how capital projects are funded and managed, insisting that the city needs to reduce financial waste and cut down on project delays.<br />Johnson has now gone so far as to create an entirely new subcommittee to oversee the capital budget, chaired by Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “Many members, including myself, have been frustrated by the capital process itself,” Gibson told Gotham Gazette outside the Council chambers on Thursday. She said the new committee will allow expanded oversight of capital spending, particularly by individual city agencies. “At the end of the day, we just wanna say to the public, to New Yorkers and to all of my colleagues that we are spending your money wisely,” she said. </p> <p>The transportation committee continues to be led by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who has been a vocal supporter of the Move New York congestion pricing plan, which would impose tolls on the East River bridges to raise funds for mass transit infrastructure and reduced fare MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, while also lowering tolls on other bridges.</p> <p>De Blasio has opposed both congestion pricing and the “Fair Fares” campaign, insisting that fair fares should be funded by the state and that congestion pricing is a “regressive tax” that hurts outer borough commuters. He has instead proposed a so-called millionaires tax, which Rodriguez also supports, that would accomplish both goals - subsidized MetroCards and new transit revenue. However, like congestion pricing, the tax would have to be approved by the state Legislature where it has already been rejected by Governor Cuomo and the state Senate, portending perhaps that the fair fares fight will be fought locally yet again. Cuomo appears on the verge of pursuing some version of congestion pricing.</p> <p>In keeping with Johnson’s promise to stand up to the de Blasio administration, the Council now has an expanded Oversight and Investigations committee, led by Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. The committee is expected to have a full-time investigation staff made up of professional investigators, former prosecutors, and journalists. In an interview with the New York Times, Torres indicated a number of different issue areas he would approach for added oversight. “The abuse of placards. The use of eminent domain. The disposition of public land. Deed restriction. The disbursement of city subsidies. All of it is on the table,” he said.</p> <p>On Thursday, Torres told Gotham Gazette that the New York City Housing Authority’s lead contamination issue, which has been a black eye for the de Blasio administration, was a “continuing concern” for him. “I have not set the investigative priorities of the committee just yet, but given my former position as chairman of the public housing committee, given my interest in the subject, NYCHA is going to be figuring prominently in my oversight priorities,” he said. </p> <p>Torres’ role will crossover with the work of other committees, such as the Committee on Public Housing, which he led last term and will this term be led by Brooklyn Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. The public housing authority needs $25 billion for infrastructure improvements, with few forthcoming state and federal funds this year. The authority’s numerous public failures continue to haunt the administration and invite criticism from the Council and community activists. And although the city has put a NYCHA overhaul plan into motion and seen some successes and promising developments, problems are not likely to abate any time soon.</p> <p>“As chair, I will ensure that critical issues are addressed, from heat, to lead, to security issues,” Ampry-Samuel said in a statement. “I look forward to visiting every housing development in the city and the opportunity to hear from the residents and the resident leaders.” </p> <p>Johnson also chose to expand the role the Council plays in scrutinizing the city’s criminal justice system. Council Member Rory Lancman of Queens was chosen to lead the newly formed Committee on the Justice System, which has oversight of city courts, district attorneys, legal service providers and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.</p> <p>Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers will be heading the Committee on Criminal Justice, which has oversight of the Department of Correction and Department of Probation. Both committees will play a prominent part in the plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex, which is contingent on reducing the city’s jail population to less than 5,000 -- it is currently just under 9,000 detainees -- while also creating borough-based jail facilities. Lancman told Gotham Gazette he expects to “aggressively oversee and try to reform” the city’s justice system. “You’ll see a very robust agenda coming out of my committee,” he said. </p> <p>Lancman and Powers’ committees were carved out of the earlier Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, which Lancman led last term. Powers, who is new to the Council like Ampry-Samuel and others, said that move “recognizes that Rikers Island and the corrections system is really its own issue that needs to be tackled in the next coming years.” </p> <p>“There are a lot of thorny issues,” Powers said of the closure of Rikers, “and I think a big part of it is really making sure that we put on the right timeline and that we make sure we manage all the different constituencies that are involved here.”</p> <p>New York City Health + Hospitals, the cash-strapped municipal hospital system, continues to be a big area of concern for the Council and in particular Johnson, who led the health committee for the last four years. Johnson created a separate Committee on Hospitals to oversee the system, appointing new Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera as chair.</p> <p>Council Member Mark Levine, chosen to be the new health committee chair, noted a number of issues he will address, including the opioid crisis, racial disparities in health outcomes, animal rights and the threat of bioterrorism. He has promised to push for a single payer healthcare system in the city -- a priority for the speaker -- and told Gotham Gazette he expects “there will be times when the Council and the administration are on different sides of an issue,” and that its incumbent on members to advocate for the Council’s priorities. “That’s the job of a good committee chair,” he said. </p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7418-city-council-names-new-committee-chairs-and-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">See the full list of new Council leadership, committee chairs, and committee members.</a></p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/25610093938_e706039a14_z.jpg" alt="City Council Speaker Corey Johnson members" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>Members of th new City Council with Speaker Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The new class of the New York City Council took greater shape on Thursday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7418-city-council-names-new-committee-chairs-and-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">with the appointment of chairs and members to the 40-plus committees and subcommittees</a> that oversee the broad legislative, land use, and oversight roles of the 51-member body. Most returning Council members were reassigned to lead different committees while some remained in the positions they’ve served the past four years. New Speaker Corey Johnson also chose to create a few new committees to boost staff levels in certain areas and to better address specific issues that were subsumed under broader committee purviews. </p> <p>In their new roles, many of the committee chairs will have to navigate a slate of issues, which in many cases will likely lead them into direct confrontation with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. This holds particularly true for the powerful land use and finance committees, both of which have new Council members at the helm. Speaker Johnson has also pledged broader independence from the mayor than his predecessor, indicating that members will be allowed, and even encouraged, to take the administration to task. He has pledged an enhanced oversight and investigations committee to lead the way in that regard.</p> <p>Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. of the Bronx was appointed chair of the land use committee, which is tasked with overseeing and reviewing land use applications, zoning amendment,s and landmark preservation in the city. Since the committee has the final say on any development projects that require city government approval, it plays a prominent role in determining the success of the mayor’s affordable housing program, in particular thus far by approving comprehensive, and controversial, neighborhood rezonings in communities such as East New York and East Harlem.</p> <p>The city is exploring similar rezonings -- to create more affordable housing while also injecting economic energy and other benefits into neighborhoods -- in the Bay Street corridor on Staten Island, Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, and Flushing, Queens, among other communities. “Our city is at a crossroads, including my community in the South Bronx,” Salamanca said in a statement Thursday. The City Council, he said, “should be on the front lines on shaping the planning, development and all other land use actions in a way that listens to and addresses the concerns of all New Yorkers.” Freshman Council Member Francisco Moya is heading up the subcommittee on zoning and franchises which falls under Salamanca’s purview. </p> <p>The finance committee, led by its new chair Council Member Daniel Dromm of Queens, also has a tough task ahead as it heads into budget season. Dromm will lead the Council’s negotiations with the administration over the $86 billion-plus city budget. The mayor is expected to release his fiscal year 2019 preliminary budget proposal later this month and the administration has been bracing for cuts in federal funding, threatened by the Trump administration, and a widely expected economic slowdown after years of continuous growth.</p> <p>Last year, the Council advocated for increased savings and reduced agency inefficiencies even as they called for new funding for Council priorities. “I intend to use this position to move a progressive budget forward working closely with Speaker Corey Johnson who I thank for giving me this opportunity to serve,” Dromm said in a statement. </p> <p>The Council’s budget hearings will no doubt also touch on the city’s $96 billion capital budget. Numerous Council members called last year for increased transparency in how capital projects are funded and managed, insisting that the city needs to reduce financial waste and cut down on project delays.<br />Johnson has now gone so far as to create an entirely new subcommittee to oversee the capital budget, chaired by Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “Many members, including myself, have been frustrated by the capital process itself,” Gibson told Gotham Gazette outside the Council chambers on Thursday. She said the new committee will allow expanded oversight of capital spending, particularly by individual city agencies. “At the end of the day, we just wanna say to the public, to New Yorkers and to all of my colleagues that we are spending your money wisely,” she said. </p> <p>The transportation committee continues to be led by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who has been a vocal supporter of the Move New York congestion pricing plan, which would impose tolls on the East River bridges to raise funds for mass transit infrastructure and reduced fare MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, while also lowering tolls on other bridges.</p> <p>De Blasio has opposed both congestion pricing and the “Fair Fares” campaign, insisting that fair fares should be funded by the state and that congestion pricing is a “regressive tax” that hurts outer borough commuters. He has instead proposed a so-called millionaires tax, which Rodriguez also supports, that would accomplish both goals - subsidized MetroCards and new transit revenue. However, like congestion pricing, the tax would have to be approved by the state Legislature where it has already been rejected by Governor Cuomo and the state Senate, portending perhaps that the fair fares fight will be fought locally yet again. Cuomo appears on the verge of pursuing some version of congestion pricing.</p> <p>In keeping with Johnson’s promise to stand up to the de Blasio administration, the Council now has an expanded Oversight and Investigations committee, led by Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. The committee is expected to have a full-time investigation staff made up of professional investigators, former prosecutors, and journalists. In an interview with the New York Times, Torres indicated a number of different issue areas he would approach for added oversight. “The abuse of placards. The use of eminent domain. The disposition of public land. Deed restriction. The disbursement of city subsidies. All of it is on the table,” he said.</p> <p>On Thursday, Torres told Gotham Gazette that the New York City Housing Authority’s lead contamination issue, which has been a black eye for the de Blasio administration, was a “continuing concern” for him. “I have not set the investigative priorities of the committee just yet, but given my former position as chairman of the public housing committee, given my interest in the subject, NYCHA is going to be figuring prominently in my oversight priorities,” he said. </p> <p>Torres’ role will crossover with the work of other committees, such as the Committee on Public Housing, which he led last term and will this term be led by Brooklyn Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. The public housing authority needs $25 billion for infrastructure improvements, with few forthcoming state and federal funds this year. The authority’s numerous public failures continue to haunt the administration and invite criticism from the Council and community activists. And although the city has put a NYCHA overhaul plan into motion and seen some successes and promising developments, problems are not likely to abate any time soon.</p> <p>“As chair, I will ensure that critical issues are addressed, from heat, to lead, to security issues,” Ampry-Samuel said in a statement. “I look forward to visiting every housing development in the city and the opportunity to hear from the residents and the resident leaders.” </p> <p>Johnson also chose to expand the role the Council plays in scrutinizing the city’s criminal justice system. Council Member Rory Lancman of Queens was chosen to lead the newly formed Committee on the Justice System, which has oversight of city courts, district attorneys, legal service providers and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.</p> <p>Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers will be heading the Committee on Criminal Justice, which has oversight of the Department of Correction and Department of Probation. Both committees will play a prominent part in the plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex, which is contingent on reducing the city’s jail population to less than 5,000 -- it is currently just under 9,000 detainees -- while also creating borough-based jail facilities. Lancman told Gotham Gazette he expects to “aggressively oversee and try to reform” the city’s justice system. “You’ll see a very robust agenda coming out of my committee,” he said. </p> <p>Lancman and Powers’ committees were carved out of the earlier Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, which Lancman led last term. Powers, who is new to the Council like Ampry-Samuel and others, said that move “recognizes that Rikers Island and the corrections system is really its own issue that needs to be tackled in the next coming years.” </p> <p>“There are a lot of thorny issues,” Powers said of the closure of Rikers, “and I think a big part of it is really making sure that we put on the right timeline and that we make sure we manage all the different constituencies that are involved here.”</p> <p>New York City Health + Hospitals, the cash-strapped municipal hospital system, continues to be a big area of concern for the Council and in particular Johnson, who led the health committee for the last four years. Johnson created a separate Committee on Hospitals to oversee the system, appointing new Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera as chair.</p> <p>Council Member Mark Levine, chosen to be the new health committee chair, noted a number of issues he will address, including the opioid crisis, racial disparities in health outcomes, animal rights and the threat of bioterrorism. He has promised to push for a single payer healthcare system in the city -- a priority for the speaker -- and told Gotham Gazette he expects “there will be times when the Council and the administration are on different sides of an issue,” and that its incumbent on members to advocate for the Council’s priorities. “That’s the job of a good committee chair,” he said. </p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7418-city-council-names-new-committee-chairs-and-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">See the full list of new Council leadership, committee chairs, and committee members.</a></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Now Pursuing Diversity, New City Council Speaker Has Employed Mostly White Men 2018-01-10T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-10T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7416:now-pursuing-diversity-new-city-council-speaker-has-employed-mostly-white-men Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27702914599_45ba6b8fdb_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Corey Johnson" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Corey Johnson’s ascension to speaker of the New York City Council came amid concerns by elected officials and activists that yet another white man would be in a seat of leadership in a majority-minority city where the mayor and comptroller, two of three citywide elected officials, are also white men. During his pursuit of the position against several men of color and amid citywide outcry over the gender imbalance in the City Council, Johnson promised to ensure a diverse senior leadership team and central staff, and early indications are that he is following through on that pledge.</p> <p>However, before rising to speaker, on his Council staff and his reelection campaign, Johnson has seemingly surrounded himself with almost exclusively other white men, in positions from communications to chief of staff.</p> <p>Before Council Member Inez Barron made an eleventh hour bid, Johnson was one of eight men running for the speakership, raising a red flag for a City Council that had female speakers for 12 years -- Christine Quinn, who led the body for two terms, followed by Melissa Mark-Viverito for one. The new speaker would also be taking the reins of a 51-member legislative body with only 11 women, down from 18 a few years ago.</p> <p>As speaker, Johnson will be overseeing about 300 central Council staffers, a big leap from a rank-and-file Council office with fewer than 10 employees. In the last four years, under Mark-Viverito, the entire Council staff, including members’ aides, has seen increasing representation for women and people of color. It has been clear that people expect Johnson to build on that progress.</p> <p>In the lead up to the Council speaker election, Gotham Gazette sought staff member names, titles, and salaries for each of the speaker candidates -- including frontrunners Johnson, Mark Levine, and Robert Cornegy, Jr. -- but the freedom of information law request was not returned before Johnson was chosen, and has still not been fulfilled by the Council.</p> <p>Of the seven people on Johnson’s Council staff identified by Gotham Gazette, five are white and male. These include his chief of staff Erik Bottcher, deputy chief of staff for legislation, planning and budget Louis Cholden-Brown, deputy chief of staff and district director Matt Green, director of communications David Moss, and community liaison and scheduler Sean Coughlin. (Johnson’s former chief of staff, Jeffrey LeFrancois, who served him for almost all of 2014, is also a white man.)</p> <p>A sixth is legislative aide Pat Comerford, who is a woman; and the seventh Johnson aide known to Gotham Gazette is CeCe Scott, an African-American woman who has been chief of district operations for the Chelsea and West Village Council district Johnson represents. A Council spokesperson did not provide full details of Johnson’s government staff composition when repeatedly requested independent of the FOIL submission, which was also reiterated several times.</p> <p>According to campaign finance records, Johnson’s 2017 reelection campaign paid five individuals, all white men, including campaign manager Kevin Groh, organizing director Wyatt Frank, treasurer Matthew Bergman and campaign workers Ryan O’Neill and Jake Kern. (Johnson’s 2013 campaign was managed by R.J. Jordan, who is also white and male.)</p> <p>The Manhattan district Johnson represents was home to about 174,000 people in 2010, according to the&nbsp;<a href="https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Census-Demographics-at-the-NYC-City-Council-distri/ye4r-qpmp">demographic data</a>&nbsp;from the Census. Of those, 67.2 percent were white non-hispanic, 12.8 percent were of Hispanic origin, 12.4 percent were Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 4.7 percent were black. Gender and race are not the only measures of diversity, of course. The district is known for its rich LGBTQ history. Johnson, who is gay and HIV-positive, was preceded in the Council by former Speaker Christine Quinn, the first openly gay person to lead the Council.</p> <p>It is unclear how many of Johnson's governmnet or campaign aides identify as LGBTQ. Johnson made history being elected speaker while openly HIV-positive, and while he has also said that while he knows he has experienced privilege being white, he is also from difficult socioeconomic circumstances, having grown up in public housing in Massachusetts in a family that was led by a single mother.</p> <p>It’s early in Johnson’s transition into the speakership and he has already announced that he will retain some of the top aides at the Council, including people of color, who served under Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>At a news conference shortly after being elected speaker, when asked about his efforts to ensure diversity, Johnson said he would bring Scott, “an incredible African-American woman,” to City Hall. He will also be keeping Ramon Martinez, the powerful chief of staff to the Council speaker, who is Latino, in his current role. The Council’s finance division director Latonia McKinney, who is African-American, and land use division director Raju Mann, who is of South Asian descent, may also be staying on -- Johnson mentioned and praised each but did not discuss their continued employment in the same definitive terms. The Council's communications director&nbsp;Robin Levine, a white woman, informed Gotham Gazette that she will continue on in her role.</p> <p>“So I think many of the top jobs are already represented by people of color and women,” Johnson said, while conceding that “we have to do a better job at all levels of government and we have to do a better job here in the Council.”</p> <p>Over the course of running for speaker, Johnson has promised that he will commit to diversity in staff and leadership positions. At a speaker forum, he pledged that at least 50 percent of his senior team and central staff would be women, transgender and non-conforming individuals. The Council’s Women’s Caucus also extracted numerous promises from all the speaker candidates and intends on holding Johnson to account for his commitments, which include funding a full-time staff person for the caucus. Johnson appears set to name Council Member Laurie Cumbo, an African-American woman, as Majority Leader, and a diverse group of members to top committee chair posts, including Rafael Salamanca to lead the land use committee.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7324-women-s-caucus-secures-commitments-from-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Women's Caucus Secures Commitments from City Council Speaker Candidates</a>]</p> <p>A spokesperson for the speaker emphasized that it was too soon to tell what the entire staff composition would look like. Johnson has yet to make any new hires and has just begun the process of meeting and interviewing candidates, the spokesperson said. &nbsp;</p> <p>“I think we need to look at our own staff,” Johnson said at the news conference. “It needs to be better, but I actually think that compared to other agencies and bodies in the city of New York, we’re actually more diverse, when it comes to staff positions, than other agencies in the city.”</p> <p>The Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ latest city <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/downloads/pdf/misc/workforce_profile_report_fy_2016.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">workforce report</a>, through Fiscal Year 2016 which ended July 2017, showed promise as far as diversity is concerned. Of the 721 employees of the Council -- 318 full-time and 403 part-time -- 49 percent were female and 57 percent people of color. Members of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus praised that progress in December, crediting Mark-Viverito for putting in practices that prioritized diverse hiring.</p> <p>“In order to build a democracy that accurately reflects our City’s diverse communities, we need reflective representation at all levels of government and all forms of public service,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, co-vice chair of the caucus, in <a href="https://blacaucus.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/statement-on-diverse-hiring-in-2014-2017.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a statement</a> issued December 13. “While our work for a more inclusive democracy continues, especially in the efforts to increase language access for immigrant communities, we are more than ready to continue this legacy.”</p> <p>The BLA Caucus also <a href="https://blacaucus.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/statement-on-speaker-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">called in December</a> for the next speaker to be a person of color, insisting that the city should “continue to be served by leaders who reflect our city's values, vision, and demographics.” But, the caucus did not rally around one candidate.</p> <p>Council Member Jumaane Williams, a member of the BLAC who ran for speaker, did not want to prejudge Johnson’s dedication to diversity but is encouraged by conversations he’s had with the speaker about “equity in government” in the last week. “I’m assuming they’re gonna produce some good results, I have no reason to expect it won’t happen,” he said in a phone interview.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7359-city-council-speaker-candidates-all-men-promise-gender-equity-if-victorious" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Speaker Candidates, All Men, Promise Gender Equity if Victorious</a>]</p> <p>Williams was one of two speaker candidates, the other being Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., who initially refused to concede to Johnson when it became apparent that Johnson had the vote locked up. The two protested the county choice of a Council member who was not a person of color. Cornegy went on to concede days before the speaker vote, while Williams did so only the morning of. In the meantime, Council Member Barron jumped into the race, also arguing that it was time the Council had its first black speaker.</p> <p>“If the City Council wants to be a beacon for progressive government, we obviously have to start here,” Williams said on Tuesday. “Any place there’s diversity, everybody benefits...Without diversity, resources don’t flow equitably to communities.”</p> <p>Williams seemed reassured by Johnson’s promises to empower members and the body as a whole. “It’s easier to do that when everybody feels represented,” he said. And he had a simple word of caution should the speaker not follow through. “There are a lot of people watching,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Pat Comerford is a woman, not a man as originally stated.&nbsp;</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated to note that Robin Levine will continue to serve as the Council communications director.&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27702914599_45ba6b8fdb_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Corey Johnson" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Corey Johnson’s ascension to speaker of the New York City Council came amid concerns by elected officials and activists that yet another white man would be in a seat of leadership in a majority-minority city where the mayor and comptroller, two of three citywide elected officials, are also white men. During his pursuit of the position against several men of color and amid citywide outcry over the gender imbalance in the City Council, Johnson promised to ensure a diverse senior leadership team and central staff, and early indications are that he is following through on that pledge.</p> <p>However, before rising to speaker, on his Council staff and his reelection campaign, Johnson has seemingly surrounded himself with almost exclusively other white men, in positions from communications to chief of staff.</p> <p>Before Council Member Inez Barron made an eleventh hour bid, Johnson was one of eight men running for the speakership, raising a red flag for a City Council that had female speakers for 12 years -- Christine Quinn, who led the body for two terms, followed by Melissa Mark-Viverito for one. The new speaker would also be taking the reins of a 51-member legislative body with only 11 women, down from 18 a few years ago.</p> <p>As speaker, Johnson will be overseeing about 300 central Council staffers, a big leap from a rank-and-file Council office with fewer than 10 employees. In the last four years, under Mark-Viverito, the entire Council staff, including members’ aides, has seen increasing representation for women and people of color. It has been clear that people expect Johnson to build on that progress.</p> <p>In the lead up to the Council speaker election, Gotham Gazette sought staff member names, titles, and salaries for each of the speaker candidates -- including frontrunners Johnson, Mark Levine, and Robert Cornegy, Jr. -- but the freedom of information law request was not returned before Johnson was chosen, and has still not been fulfilled by the Council.</p> <p>Of the seven people on Johnson’s Council staff identified by Gotham Gazette, five are white and male. These include his chief of staff Erik Bottcher, deputy chief of staff for legislation, planning and budget Louis Cholden-Brown, deputy chief of staff and district director Matt Green, director of communications David Moss, and community liaison and scheduler Sean Coughlin. (Johnson’s former chief of staff, Jeffrey LeFrancois, who served him for almost all of 2014, is also a white man.)</p> <p>A sixth is legislative aide Pat Comerford, who is a woman; and the seventh Johnson aide known to Gotham Gazette is CeCe Scott, an African-American woman who has been chief of district operations for the Chelsea and West Village Council district Johnson represents. A Council spokesperson did not provide full details of Johnson’s government staff composition when repeatedly requested independent of the FOIL submission, which was also reiterated several times.</p> <p>According to campaign finance records, Johnson’s 2017 reelection campaign paid five individuals, all white men, including campaign manager Kevin Groh, organizing director Wyatt Frank, treasurer Matthew Bergman and campaign workers Ryan O’Neill and Jake Kern. (Johnson’s 2013 campaign was managed by R.J. Jordan, who is also white and male.)</p> <p>The Manhattan district Johnson represents was home to about 174,000 people in 2010, according to the&nbsp;<a href="https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Census-Demographics-at-the-NYC-City-Council-distri/ye4r-qpmp">demographic data</a>&nbsp;from the Census. Of those, 67.2 percent were white non-hispanic, 12.8 percent were of Hispanic origin, 12.4 percent were Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 4.7 percent were black. Gender and race are not the only measures of diversity, of course. The district is known for its rich LGBTQ history. Johnson, who is gay and HIV-positive, was preceded in the Council by former Speaker Christine Quinn, the first openly gay person to lead the Council.</p> <p>It is unclear how many of Johnson's governmnet or campaign aides identify as LGBTQ. Johnson made history being elected speaker while openly HIV-positive, and while he has also said that while he knows he has experienced privilege being white, he is also from difficult socioeconomic circumstances, having grown up in public housing in Massachusetts in a family that was led by a single mother.</p> <p>It’s early in Johnson’s transition into the speakership and he has already announced that he will retain some of the top aides at the Council, including people of color, who served under Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>At a news conference shortly after being elected speaker, when asked about his efforts to ensure diversity, Johnson said he would bring Scott, “an incredible African-American woman,” to City Hall. He will also be keeping Ramon Martinez, the powerful chief of staff to the Council speaker, who is Latino, in his current role. The Council’s finance division director Latonia McKinney, who is African-American, and land use division director Raju Mann, who is of South Asian descent, may also be staying on -- Johnson mentioned and praised each but did not discuss their continued employment in the same definitive terms. The Council's communications director&nbsp;Robin Levine, a white woman, informed Gotham Gazette that she will continue on in her role.</p> <p>“So I think many of the top jobs are already represented by people of color and women,” Johnson said, while conceding that “we have to do a better job at all levels of government and we have to do a better job here in the Council.”</p> <p>Over the course of running for speaker, Johnson has promised that he will commit to diversity in staff and leadership positions. At a speaker forum, he pledged that at least 50 percent of his senior team and central staff would be women, transgender and non-conforming individuals. The Council’s Women’s Caucus also extracted numerous promises from all the speaker candidates and intends on holding Johnson to account for his commitments, which include funding a full-time staff person for the caucus. Johnson appears set to name Council Member Laurie Cumbo, an African-American woman, as Majority Leader, and a diverse group of members to top committee chair posts, including Rafael Salamanca to lead the land use committee.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7324-women-s-caucus-secures-commitments-from-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Women's Caucus Secures Commitments from City Council Speaker Candidates</a>]</p> <p>A spokesperson for the speaker emphasized that it was too soon to tell what the entire staff composition would look like. Johnson has yet to make any new hires and has just begun the process of meeting and interviewing candidates, the spokesperson said. &nbsp;</p> <p>“I think we need to look at our own staff,” Johnson said at the news conference. “It needs to be better, but I actually think that compared to other agencies and bodies in the city of New York, we’re actually more diverse, when it comes to staff positions, than other agencies in the city.”</p> <p>The Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ latest city <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/downloads/pdf/misc/workforce_profile_report_fy_2016.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">workforce report</a>, through Fiscal Year 2016 which ended July 2017, showed promise as far as diversity is concerned. Of the 721 employees of the Council -- 318 full-time and 403 part-time -- 49 percent were female and 57 percent people of color. Members of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus praised that progress in December, crediting Mark-Viverito for putting in practices that prioritized diverse hiring.</p> <p>“In order to build a democracy that accurately reflects our City’s diverse communities, we need reflective representation at all levels of government and all forms of public service,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, co-vice chair of the caucus, in <a href="https://blacaucus.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/statement-on-diverse-hiring-in-2014-2017.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a statement</a> issued December 13. “While our work for a more inclusive democracy continues, especially in the efforts to increase language access for immigrant communities, we are more than ready to continue this legacy.”</p> <p>The BLA Caucus also <a href="https://blacaucus.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/statement-on-speaker-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">called in December</a> for the next speaker to be a person of color, insisting that the city should “continue to be served by leaders who reflect our city's values, vision, and demographics.” But, the caucus did not rally around one candidate.</p> <p>Council Member Jumaane Williams, a member of the BLAC who ran for speaker, did not want to prejudge Johnson’s dedication to diversity but is encouraged by conversations he’s had with the speaker about “equity in government” in the last week. “I’m assuming they’re gonna produce some good results, I have no reason to expect it won’t happen,” he said in a phone interview.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7359-city-council-speaker-candidates-all-men-promise-gender-equity-if-victorious" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Speaker Candidates, All Men, Promise Gender Equity if Victorious</a>]</p> <p>Williams was one of two speaker candidates, the other being Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., who initially refused to concede to Johnson when it became apparent that Johnson had the vote locked up. The two protested the county choice of a Council member who was not a person of color. Cornegy went on to concede days before the speaker vote, while Williams did so only the morning of. In the meantime, Council Member Barron jumped into the race, also arguing that it was time the Council had its first black speaker.</p> <p>“If the City Council wants to be a beacon for progressive government, we obviously have to start here,” Williams said on Tuesday. “Any place there’s diversity, everybody benefits...Without diversity, resources don’t flow equitably to communities.”</p> <p>Williams seemed reassured by Johnson’s promises to empower members and the body as a whole. “It’s easier to do that when everybody feels represented,” he said. And he had a simple word of caution should the speaker not follow through. “There are a lot of people watching,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Pat Comerford is a woman, not a man as originally stated.&nbsp;</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated to note that Robin Levine will continue to serve as the Council communications director.&nbsp;</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: New City Council Members Justin Brannan & Carlina Rivera 2018-01-10T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-10T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7413:max-murphy-podcast-new-city-council-members-justin-brannan-carlina-rivera Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 10, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: New City Council Members Justin Brannan &amp; Carlina Rivera<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/rivera-brannan-277x143.jpg" alt="rivera brannan 277x143" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Justin Brannan and Carlina Rivera are two of the City Council's new members, elected last year and inaugurated at the start of this year. Each succeeded a term-limited Council member that they worked for as an aide, so they know city government well. But, there's nothing like being the elected official yourself, as they explain on this episode of the podcast. The two new Council members, both Democrats, discuss the transition process, their top priorities, and this political moment in New York City.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>, with guests <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JustinBrannan</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlinaRivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CarlinaRivera</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/381582968&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 10, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: New City Council Members Justin Brannan &amp; Carlina Rivera<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/rivera-brannan-277x143.jpg" alt="rivera brannan 277x143" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Justin Brannan and Carlina Rivera are two of the City Council's new members, elected last year and inaugurated at the start of this year. Each succeeded a term-limited Council member that they worked for as an aide, so they know city government well. But, there's nothing like being the elected official yourself, as they explain on this episode of the podcast. The two new Council members, both Democrats, discuss the transition process, their top priorities, and this political moment in New York City.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>, with guests <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JustinBrannan</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlinaRivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CarlinaRivera</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/381582968&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
City Council Names New Leadership, Committee Chairs and Members 2018-01-11T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-11T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7418:city-council-names-new-committee-chairs-and-members Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27702922879_863c50cfe8_z.jpg" alt="Corey Johnson Speaker City Council chambers" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council chambers (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>New City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Manhattan Democrat, outlined his leadership team and Council committee chair and membership assignments on Thursday. Johnson named Brooklyn Council Member Laurie Cumbo, a close ally and friend, as Majority Leader.&nbsp;Majority Whip will be Council Member Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx; the Democratic Conference Chair, a new position, will be filled by Brooklyn Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr.; Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal, Jr. will fill another new role, that of Deputy leader for Digital Communication; and Brooklyn Council Member Brad Lander will keep his role as Deputy Leader for Policy.</p> <p>There are another roughly dozen members of the leadership team as announced by Johnson. He also announced that Brooklyn Council Member Carlos Menchaca will lead the expansion of participatory budgeting across the Council, where members choose to implement the program.</p> <p>Staten Island Council Member Steve Matteo was already voted Minority Leader in the three-member Republican conference, with Council Member Joe Borelli, also of Staten Island, as Minority Whip, both reprising roles from last session. Borelli was also named to chair the new Committee on Fire and Emergency Management, which is being broken away from what was the Committee on Criminal Justice and Fire.</p> <p>Top committee chair posts are going to Johnson allies and members of the Bronx and Queens delegations after those two Democratic county party machines backed him for speaker, decisively helping him attain the position. Johnson had also secured support from nearly a dozen members from Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn, he has said, to help convince the Bronx and Queens party leaders -- Assemblymember Marcos Crespo and Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley, respectively -- to give him their support and the Council member votes that come with it.</p> <p>The two most powerful and prestigious Council committees will be chaired by Bronx Council Member Rafael Salamanca, who will lead the Committee on Land Use, and Queens Council Member Danny Dromm, who will lead the Committee on Finance.</p> <p>Brooklyn Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., who previously declared himself the runner-up in the speaker race, will chair the Committee on Housing and Buildings. Johnson named Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres to lead the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, which Johnson has pledged to beef up in an effort to more acutely hold the mayoral administration accountable.</p> <p>Other top committee posts include: Queens Council Member Donovan Richards as chair of the Committee on Public Safety; Brooklyn Council Member Mark Treyger as chair of the Committee on Education; Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers as chair of Criminal Justice; and Queens Council Member Rory Lancman as chair of the Committee on the Justice System. Manhattan Council Member Mark Levine, who was in the running for speaker, will chair the Health Committee, previously chaired by Johnson.</p> <p>Several Council members are retaining committee chair positions, including Manhattan Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez as chair of the Committee on Transportation and Steven Levin as chair of the Committee on General Welfare.</p> <p>As the crisis of the Council's gender imbalance continues to get more attention -- there are just 11 women in the Council's 51 seats -- Manhattan Council Member Helen Rosenthal will chair the Committee on Women's Issues.</p> <p>Along with the new fire and emergency services committee, other new committees include a Committee on Hospitals, to be chaired by Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera; and the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles, to be chaired by Bronx Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr.</p> <p>Notably, Bronx Council Member Fernando Cabrera will chair the Committee on Governmental Operations, taking over from Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, who will remain on the committee. Kallos was roundly praised for his leadership of the committee over the prior session, both as a reformer and for holding accountable relevant agencies, like the Board of Elections.</p> <p>A full list of committee chairs and members, which passed the rules committee and still need to be approved by the full Council:</p> <p>Aging<br />Margaret Chin, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Danny Dromm<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Debi Rose<br />Mark Treyger<br />Paul Vallone</p> <p>Civil and Human Rights<br />Matheiu Eugene, Chair<br />Danny Dromm<br />Ben Kallos<br />Brad Lander<br />Bill Perkins<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Helen Rosenthal</p> <p>Civil Service and Labor<br />I. Daneek Miller, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Danny Dromm<br />Andy King<br />Alan Maisel<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Jumaane Williams</p> <p>Consumer Affairs<br />Rafael Espinal, Chair<br />Margaret Chin<br />Peter Koo<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Brad Lander</p> <p>Contracts<br />Justin Brannan, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Bill Perkins<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Kalman Yeger</p> <p>Criminal Justice Services<br />Keith Powers, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Robert Holden<br />Rory Lancman<br />Carlina Rivera</p> <p>Cultural Affairs<br />Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Francisco Moya</p> <p>Economic Development<br />Paul Vallone, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Inez Barron<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Peter Koo<br />Brad Lander<br />Mark Levine<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Keith Powers<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Jumaane Williams</p> <p>Education<br />Mark Treyger, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Inez Barron<br />Joe Borelli<br />Justin Brannan<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Danny Dromm<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Ben Kallos<br />Andy King<br />Brad Lander<br />Steven Levin<br />Mark Levine<br />Debi Rose<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Eric Ulrich</p> <p>Environmental Protection<br />Costa Constantinides, Chair<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Steven Levin<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Donovan Richards<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Kalman Yeger</p> <p>Finance<br />Danny Dromm, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Matteo<br />Francisco Moya<br />Keith Powers<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Jimmy Van Bramer</p> <p>Fire and Emergency Management<br />Joe Borelli, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Justin Brannan<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Alan Maisel<br /> <br />For-Hire Vehicles<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr., Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Francisco Moya<br />Debi Rose<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />General Welfare<br />Steven Levin, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Diana Ayala<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Brad Lander<br />Antonion Reynoso<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Governmental Operations<br />Fernando Cabrera, Chair<br />Ben Kallos<br />Alan Maisel<br />Bill Perkins<br />Keith Powers<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Health<br />Mark Levine, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Inez Barron<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Keith Powers<br /> <br />Higher Education<br />Inez Barron, Chair<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Robert Holden<br />Ben Kallos<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br /> <br />Hospitals<br />Carlina Rivera, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Mark Levine<br />Alan Maisel<br />Francisco Moya<br />Antonio Reynoso<br /> <br />Housing and Buildings<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr., Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Margaret Chin<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Bill Perkins<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Immigration<br />Carlos Menchaca, Chair<br />Danny Dromm<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Robert Holden<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Justice System<br />Rory Lancman, Chair<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Alan Maisel<br />Debi Rose<br />Eric Ulrich<br /> <br />Juvenile Justice<br />Andy King, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Robert Holden<br />Mark Levine<br />Bill Perkins<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Land Use<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Inez Barron<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Ben Kallos<br />Andy King<br />Peter Koo<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Levin<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Francisco Moya<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction<br />Diana Ayala, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Robert Holden<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Oversight and Investigations<br />Ritchie Torres, Chair<br />Ben Kallos<br />Rory Lancman<br />Keith Powers<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Mark Treyger<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Parks and Recreation<br />Barry Grodenchik, Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Justin Brannan<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Andy King<br />Peter Koo<br />Francisco Moya<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Public Housing<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Donovan Richards<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Public Safety<br />Donovan Richards, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Rory Lancman<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Keith Powers<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Paul Vallone<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Rules, Priveleges and Elections<br />Karen Koslowitz, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Margaret Chin<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Corey Johnson<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Matteo<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Sanitation and Solid Waste Management<br />Antonio Reynoso, Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />Small Business<br />Mark Gjonaj, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Steven Levin<br />Bill Perkins<br />Carlina Rivera<br /> <br />Standards and Ethics<br />Steven Matteo, Chair<br />Margaret Chin<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Steven Levin<br /> <br />State and Federal Legislation<br />Andrew Cohen, Chair<br />Robet Cornegy, Jr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Ydanis Rodriguez</p> <p>Technology<br />Peter Koo, Chair<br />Robert Holden<br />Brad Lander<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Transportation<br />Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Peter Koo<br />Steven Levin<br />Mark Levine<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Debi Rose<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br /> <br />Veterans<br />Chaim Deutsch, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Alan Maisel<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />Women's Issues<br />Helen Rosenthal, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Ben Kallos<br />Brad Lander<br /> <br />Youth Services<br />Debi Rose, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Margaret Chin<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Andy King<br /> <br />SUBCOMMITTEES<br /> <br />Capital Budget<br />Vanessa Gibson, Chair<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Steven Matteo<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Keith Powers<br /> <br />Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses<br />Adrienne Adams, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Peter Koo<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Planning, Dispositions and Concessions<br />Ben Kallos, Chair<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Andy King<br />Vanessa Gibson<br /> <br />Zoning and Franchises<br />Francisco Moya, Chair<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Levin<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Ritchie Torres</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27702922879_863c50cfe8_z.jpg" alt="Corey Johnson Speaker City Council chambers" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council chambers (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>New City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Manhattan Democrat, outlined his leadership team and Council committee chair and membership assignments on Thursday. Johnson named Brooklyn Council Member Laurie Cumbo, a close ally and friend, as Majority Leader.&nbsp;Majority Whip will be Council Member Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx; the Democratic Conference Chair, a new position, will be filled by Brooklyn Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr.; Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal, Jr. will fill another new role, that of Deputy leader for Digital Communication; and Brooklyn Council Member Brad Lander will keep his role as Deputy Leader for Policy.</p> <p>There are another roughly dozen members of the leadership team as announced by Johnson. He also announced that Brooklyn Council Member Carlos Menchaca will lead the expansion of participatory budgeting across the Council, where members choose to implement the program.</p> <p>Staten Island Council Member Steve Matteo was already voted Minority Leader in the three-member Republican conference, with Council Member Joe Borelli, also of Staten Island, as Minority Whip, both reprising roles from last session. Borelli was also named to chair the new Committee on Fire and Emergency Management, which is being broken away from what was the Committee on Criminal Justice and Fire.</p> <p>Top committee chair posts are going to Johnson allies and members of the Bronx and Queens delegations after those two Democratic county party machines backed him for speaker, decisively helping him attain the position. Johnson had also secured support from nearly a dozen members from Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn, he has said, to help convince the Bronx and Queens party leaders -- Assemblymember Marcos Crespo and Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley, respectively -- to give him their support and the Council member votes that come with it.</p> <p>The two most powerful and prestigious Council committees will be chaired by Bronx Council Member Rafael Salamanca, who will lead the Committee on Land Use, and Queens Council Member Danny Dromm, who will lead the Committee on Finance.</p> <p>Brooklyn Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., who previously declared himself the runner-up in the speaker race, will chair the Committee on Housing and Buildings. Johnson named Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres to lead the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, which Johnson has pledged to beef up in an effort to more acutely hold the mayoral administration accountable.</p> <p>Other top committee posts include: Queens Council Member Donovan Richards as chair of the Committee on Public Safety; Brooklyn Council Member Mark Treyger as chair of the Committee on Education; Manhattan Council Member Keith Powers as chair of Criminal Justice; and Queens Council Member Rory Lancman as chair of the Committee on the Justice System. Manhattan Council Member Mark Levine, who was in the running for speaker, will chair the Health Committee, previously chaired by Johnson.</p> <p>Several Council members are retaining committee chair positions, including Manhattan Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez as chair of the Committee on Transportation and Steven Levin as chair of the Committee on General Welfare.</p> <p>As the crisis of the Council's gender imbalance continues to get more attention -- there are just 11 women in the Council's 51 seats -- Manhattan Council Member Helen Rosenthal will chair the Committee on Women's Issues.</p> <p>Along with the new fire and emergency services committee, other new committees include a Committee on Hospitals, to be chaired by Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera; and the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles, to be chaired by Bronx Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr.</p> <p>Notably, Bronx Council Member Fernando Cabrera will chair the Committee on Governmental Operations, taking over from Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, who will remain on the committee. Kallos was roundly praised for his leadership of the committee over the prior session, both as a reformer and for holding accountable relevant agencies, like the Board of Elections.</p> <p>A full list of committee chairs and members, which passed the rules committee and still need to be approved by the full Council:</p> <p>Aging<br />Margaret Chin, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Danny Dromm<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Debi Rose<br />Mark Treyger<br />Paul Vallone</p> <p>Civil and Human Rights<br />Matheiu Eugene, Chair<br />Danny Dromm<br />Ben Kallos<br />Brad Lander<br />Bill Perkins<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Helen Rosenthal</p> <p>Civil Service and Labor<br />I. Daneek Miller, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Danny Dromm<br />Andy King<br />Alan Maisel<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Jumaane Williams</p> <p>Consumer Affairs<br />Rafael Espinal, Chair<br />Margaret Chin<br />Peter Koo<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Brad Lander</p> <p>Contracts<br />Justin Brannan, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Bill Perkins<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Kalman Yeger</p> <p>Criminal Justice Services<br />Keith Powers, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Robert Holden<br />Rory Lancman<br />Carlina Rivera</p> <p>Cultural Affairs<br />Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Francisco Moya</p> <p>Economic Development<br />Paul Vallone, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Inez Barron<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Peter Koo<br />Brad Lander<br />Mark Levine<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Keith Powers<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Jumaane Williams</p> <p>Education<br />Mark Treyger, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Inez Barron<br />Joe Borelli<br />Justin Brannan<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Danny Dromm<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Ben Kallos<br />Andy King<br />Brad Lander<br />Steven Levin<br />Mark Levine<br />Debi Rose<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Eric Ulrich</p> <p>Environmental Protection<br />Costa Constantinides, Chair<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Steven Levin<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Donovan Richards<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Kalman Yeger</p> <p>Finance<br />Danny Dromm, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Matteo<br />Francisco Moya<br />Keith Powers<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Jimmy Van Bramer</p> <p>Fire and Emergency Management<br />Joe Borelli, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Justin Brannan<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Alan Maisel<br /> <br />For-Hire Vehicles<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr., Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Francisco Moya<br />Debi Rose<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />General Welfare<br />Steven Levin, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Diana Ayala<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Brad Lander<br />Antonion Reynoso<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Governmental Operations<br />Fernando Cabrera, Chair<br />Ben Kallos<br />Alan Maisel<br />Bill Perkins<br />Keith Powers<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Health<br />Mark Levine, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Inez Barron<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Keith Powers<br /> <br />Higher Education<br />Inez Barron, Chair<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Robert Holden<br />Ben Kallos<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br /> <br />Hospitals<br />Carlina Rivera, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Mark Levine<br />Alan Maisel<br />Francisco Moya<br />Antonio Reynoso<br /> <br />Housing and Buildings<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr., Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Margaret Chin<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Bill Perkins<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Immigration<br />Carlos Menchaca, Chair<br />Danny Dromm<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Robert Holden<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Justice System<br />Rory Lancman, Chair<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Alan Maisel<br />Debi Rose<br />Eric Ulrich<br /> <br />Juvenile Justice<br />Andy King, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Robert Holden<br />Mark Levine<br />Bill Perkins<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Land Use<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Inez Barron<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Ben Kallos<br />Andy King<br />Peter Koo<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Levin<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Francisco Moya<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction<br />Diana Ayala, Chair<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Robert Holden<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Oversight and Investigations<br />Ritchie Torres, Chair<br />Ben Kallos<br />Rory Lancman<br />Keith Powers<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Mark Treyger<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Parks and Recreation<br />Barry Grodenchik, Chair<br />Joe Borelli<br />Justin Brannan<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Andy King<br />Peter Koo<br />Francisco Moya<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Public Housing<br />Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Mark Gjonaj<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />Donovan Richards<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br />Jimmy Van Bramer<br /> <br />Public Safety<br />Donovan Richards, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Andrew Cohen<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Rory Lancman<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Keith Powers<br />Ydanis Rodriguez<br />Paul Vallone<br />Jumaane Williams<br /> <br />Rules, Priveleges and Elections<br />Karen Koslowitz, Chair<br />Adrienne Adams<br />Margaret Chin<br />Robert Cornegy, Jr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Corey Johnson<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Matteo<br />Ritchie Torres<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Sanitation and Solid Waste Management<br />Antonio Reynoso, Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />Small Business<br />Mark Gjonaj, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Steven Levin<br />Bill Perkins<br />Carlina Rivera<br /> <br />Standards and Ethics<br />Steven Matteo, Chair<br />Margaret Chin<br />Vanessa Gibson<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Steven Levin<br /> <br />State and Federal Legislation<br />Andrew Cohen, Chair<br />Robet Cornegy, Jr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Karen Koslowitz<br />Ydanis Rodriguez</p> <p>Technology<br />Peter Koo, Chair<br />Robert Holden<br />Brad Lander<br />Eric Ulrich<br />Kalman Yeger<br /> <br />Transportation<br />Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair<br />Fernando Cabrera<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Rafael Espinal, Jr.<br />Peter Koo<br />Steven Levin<br />Mark Levine<br />Carlos Menchaca<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Debi Rose<br />Rafael Salamanca, Jr.<br /> <br />Veterans<br />Chaim Deutsch, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Alan Maisel<br />Paul Vallone<br /> <br />Women's Issues<br />Helen Rosenthal, Chair<br />Diana Ayala<br />Laurie Cumbo<br />Ben Kallos<br />Brad Lander<br /> <br />Youth Services<br />Debi Rose, Chair<br />Justin Brannan<br />Margaret Chin<br />Mathieu Eugene<br />Andy King<br /> <br />SUBCOMMITTEES<br /> <br />Capital Budget<br />Vanessa Gibson, Chair<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Steven Matteo<br />Helen Rosenthal<br />Keith Powers<br /> <br />Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses<br />Adrienne Adams, Chair<br />Inez Barron<br />Peter Koo<br />I. Daneek Miller<br />Mark Treyger<br /> <br />Planning, Dispositions and Concessions<br />Ben Kallos, Chair<br />Chaim Deutsch<br />Ruben Diaz, Sr.<br />Andy King<br />Vanessa Gibson<br /> <br />Zoning and Franchises<br />Francisco Moya, Chair<br />Costa Constantinides<br />Barry Grodenchik<br />Rory Lancman<br />Steven Levin<br />Antonio Reynoso<br />Donovan Richards<br />Carlina Rivera<br />Ritchie Torres</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Initial Johnson Move Signifies Changing of the Guard at City Council 2018-01-09T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-09T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7414:initial-johnson-move-signifies-changing-of-the-guard-at-the-city-council Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38771479474_2c39e60427_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Corey Johnson press conference " width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Speaker Corey Johnson, at podium (photos: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>Just after he was <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7401-corey-johnson-elected-speaker-of-the-city-council" target="_blank" rel="noopener">elected Speaker of the City Council</a>&nbsp;on January 3, Corey Johnson had some initial business to take care of: naming a temporary rules committee, including a chairperson. And in this first official decision in his new role, Johnson made a relatively small but important move that is emblematic of the broad shift in the City Council and larger city political dynamics at play in Johnson’s election.</p> <p>Toward the end of an emotional and intense initial meeting of the new City Council class, at which Johnson, a Democrat, won 48 of 49 votes to lead the 51-seat legislative body for the next four years, the new speaker nominated an interim rules committee, including himself, as is customary, to be led by Queens Council Member Rory Lancman.</p> <p>Johnson had just been elected speaker with the support of the Bronx County Democratic Party and the Queens County Democratic Party, which is led by Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley, whom he thanked profusely from the floor of the Council chambers as Crowley looked down from the balcony. The situation was unlike that of Johnson’s predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who became speaker in 2014 after winning the support of a unified Council Progressive Caucus, powerful labor unions, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and members of the Brooklyn Democratic County Party. Four years ago, Mark-Viverito named Brooklyn Council Member and Progressive Caucus co-founder Brad Lander as rules chair.</p> <p>The shift from Mark-Viverito to Johnson can also be seen in the change from Lander to Lancman, a former member of the state Assembly and stalwart player in the Queens County Party. While all four Democrats share political dispositions and most policy positions, the changing of the guard is evident, and other top committee posts appear likely to go to representatives of the county parties and individual members who backed Johnson’s ascension. It appears this will include the Bronx’s Rafael Salamanca as chair of the land use committee and a Queens Council member, possibly Danny Dromm, as chair of the finance committee, according to sources familiar with the process. Last time around Brooklyn's David Greenfield was named land use chair and Progressive Caucus member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland of Queens became chair of finance.</p> <p>Johnson, himself a member of the Progressive Caucus, has been meeting with his 50 Council member constituents and hearing from other stakeholders like the county party leaders, and is expected to outline committee chair and member nominations within the next ten days.</p> <p>The rules committee will then take up those nominations, approving the chairs and committee members of all of the Council’s 40-plus committees and subcommittees, including the permanent rules committee, before the full Council gives it approval. It is unclear if Lancman will remain rules chair, or whether he requested the position even on a temporary basis. A request to speak with the Council member was declined by a spokesperson.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/16191294597_378fed8f32_z.jpg" alt="City Council Rory Lancman" width="275" height="183" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />After approving committee assignments, the rules committee will then be responsible for considering and passing any changes to the Council’s internal rules -- there is a long <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proposed rules reform agenda</a> that 33 members, including Johnson and Lancman (pictured), signed on to last month -- and vetting and approving nominees to about a dozen city boards and commissions, like the Board of Corrections and the City Planning Commission.</p> <p>"The Speaker has already met with almost all of his colleagues and is in active conversations with Council Members, stakeholders, city leaders and advocates to ensure the committee chairs best reflect the priorities of this Council and the diversity of our City," said City Council spokesperson Robin Levine, in an emailed statement. Levine did not directly respond to the question of how Lancman was selected as the initial rules chair. During the prior term Lancman, an attorney and regular critic of Mayor de Blasio, chaired the newly created Committee on Courts and Legal Services.</p> <p>Four years ago, Lander and Mark-Viverito ushered through landmark rules reforms that significantly altered how the Council functions, including how discretionary funding is allocated to individual members, bringing equity and transparency to a system that had been used by prior speakers to reward and punish.</p> <p>As he ran for speaker and since being elected, Johnson has championed additional reforms, including to the Council’s bill-drafting protocols. He wants to see changes so that members can no longer put indefinite holds on certain legislation and so that there is more information and awareness around who is working on what bills.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The rules reform package</a> that has the backing of 33 members includes changes to the bill-drafting process but also a beefing up of the Council’s Oversight and Investigation Committee, “with dedicated investigative staff and a willingness to use the Council’s subpoena power when necessary.” It also includes increasing the Council’s budget and staff and staff salaries; and beefing up the land use division specifically, something Johnson has talked about a good deal during his bid for speaker and since being elected.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency" target="_blank" rel="noopener">At one speaker candidate forum</a> Johnson said that he thinks there is room for possibly eliminating some Council committees while also possibly creating new ones -- he said, for example, that the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee should be broken into two. He did not give any examples of committees that should be eliminated. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did delete one committee last term</a>, the Committee on Community Development, when its chair resigned from the Council, but most Council members, including Lander, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said at the time</a> that there were no plans to look at eliminating any others.</p> <p>Along with Lancman as chair and Johnson, the other members of the initial rules committee are Council Members Adrienne Adams, Margaret Chin, Robert Cornegy, Jr., Rafael Espinal, Karen Koslowitz, Steven Matteo, Ritchie Torres, and Mark Treyger.</p> <p>The package of reforms says toward the end that&nbsp;"A hearing should be held in the Rules Committee on these reforms – as well as any others proposed by&nbsp;good government groups or members of the public – in the first quarter of 2018. The reforms should&nbsp;then be converted into a Rules Resolution, and adopted by the Council by March 2018, but no later&nbsp;than June 2018."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Speaker Candidates Address Power, Reform and Transparency]</a></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38771479474_2c39e60427_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Corey Johnson press conference " width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Speaker Corey Johnson, at podium (photos: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>Just after he was <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7401-corey-johnson-elected-speaker-of-the-city-council" target="_blank" rel="noopener">elected Speaker of the City Council</a>&nbsp;on January 3, Corey Johnson had some initial business to take care of: naming a temporary rules committee, including a chairperson. And in this first official decision in his new role, Johnson made a relatively small but important move that is emblematic of the broad shift in the City Council and larger city political dynamics at play in Johnson’s election.</p> <p>Toward the end of an emotional and intense initial meeting of the new City Council class, at which Johnson, a Democrat, won 48 of 49 votes to lead the 51-seat legislative body for the next four years, the new speaker nominated an interim rules committee, including himself, as is customary, to be led by Queens Council Member Rory Lancman.</p> <p>Johnson had just been elected speaker with the support of the Bronx County Democratic Party and the Queens County Democratic Party, which is led by Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley, whom he thanked profusely from the floor of the Council chambers as Crowley looked down from the balcony. The situation was unlike that of Johnson’s predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who became speaker in 2014 after winning the support of a unified Council Progressive Caucus, powerful labor unions, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and members of the Brooklyn Democratic County Party. Four years ago, Mark-Viverito named Brooklyn Council Member and Progressive Caucus co-founder Brad Lander as rules chair.</p> <p>The shift from Mark-Viverito to Johnson can also be seen in the change from Lander to Lancman, a former member of the state Assembly and stalwart player in the Queens County Party. While all four Democrats share political dispositions and most policy positions, the changing of the guard is evident, and other top committee posts appear likely to go to representatives of the county parties and individual members who backed Johnson’s ascension. It appears this will include the Bronx’s Rafael Salamanca as chair of the land use committee and a Queens Council member, possibly Danny Dromm, as chair of the finance committee, according to sources familiar with the process. Last time around Brooklyn's David Greenfield was named land use chair and Progressive Caucus member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland of Queens became chair of finance.</p> <p>Johnson, himself a member of the Progressive Caucus, has been meeting with his 50 Council member constituents and hearing from other stakeholders like the county party leaders, and is expected to outline committee chair and member nominations within the next ten days.</p> <p>The rules committee will then take up those nominations, approving the chairs and committee members of all of the Council’s 40-plus committees and subcommittees, including the permanent rules committee, before the full Council gives it approval. It is unclear if Lancman will remain rules chair, or whether he requested the position even on a temporary basis. A request to speak with the Council member was declined by a spokesperson.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/16191294597_378fed8f32_z.jpg" alt="City Council Rory Lancman" width="275" height="183" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />After approving committee assignments, the rules committee will then be responsible for considering and passing any changes to the Council’s internal rules -- there is a long <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proposed rules reform agenda</a> that 33 members, including Johnson and Lancman (pictured), signed on to last month -- and vetting and approving nominees to about a dozen city boards and commissions, like the Board of Corrections and the City Planning Commission.</p> <p>"The Speaker has already met with almost all of his colleagues and is in active conversations with Council Members, stakeholders, city leaders and advocates to ensure the committee chairs best reflect the priorities of this Council and the diversity of our City," said City Council spokesperson Robin Levine, in an emailed statement. Levine did not directly respond to the question of how Lancman was selected as the initial rules chair. During the prior term Lancman, an attorney and regular critic of Mayor de Blasio, chaired the newly created Committee on Courts and Legal Services.</p> <p>Four years ago, Lander and Mark-Viverito ushered through landmark rules reforms that significantly altered how the Council functions, including how discretionary funding is allocated to individual members, bringing equity and transparency to a system that had been used by prior speakers to reward and punish.</p> <p>As he ran for speaker and since being elected, Johnson has championed additional reforms, including to the Council’s bill-drafting protocols. He wants to see changes so that members can no longer put indefinite holds on certain legislation and so that there is more information and awareness around who is working on what bills.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The rules reform package</a> that has the backing of 33 members includes changes to the bill-drafting process but also a beefing up of the Council’s Oversight and Investigation Committee, “with dedicated investigative staff and a willingness to use the Council’s subpoena power when necessary.” It also includes increasing the Council’s budget and staff and staff salaries; and beefing up the land use division specifically, something Johnson has talked about a good deal during his bid for speaker and since being elected.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency" target="_blank" rel="noopener">At one speaker candidate forum</a> Johnson said that he thinks there is room for possibly eliminating some Council committees while also possibly creating new ones -- he said, for example, that the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee should be broken into two. He did not give any examples of committees that should be eliminated. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did delete one committee last term</a>, the Committee on Community Development, when its chair resigned from the Council, but most Council members, including Lander, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said at the time</a> that there were no plans to look at eliminating any others.</p> <p>Along with Lancman as chair and Johnson, the other members of the initial rules committee are Council Members Adrienne Adams, Margaret Chin, Robert Cornegy, Jr., Rafael Espinal, Karen Koslowitz, Steven Matteo, Ritchie Torres, and Mark Treyger.</p> <p>The package of reforms says toward the end that&nbsp;"A hearing should be held in the Rules Committee on these reforms – as well as any others proposed by&nbsp;good government groups or members of the public – in the first quarter of 2018. The reforms should&nbsp;then be converted into a Rules Resolution, and adopted by the Council by March 2018, but no later&nbsp;than June 2018."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Speaker Candidates Address Power, Reform and Transparency]</a></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Corey Johnson Elected Speaker of the City Council 2018-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7401:corey-johnson-elected-speaker-of-the-city-council Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/corey-johnson-moments-after-being-elected-speaker-of-the-city-council-cfredit-william-alatriste.jpg" alt="corey johnson moments after being elected speaker of the city council cfredit william alatriste" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Corey Johnson, a Manhattan Democrat, was elected speaker of the New York City Council with near unanimous support on Wednesday, becoming the first leader of the 51-member legislative body who is an openly gay man and openly HIV-positive.</p> <p>Johnson took the helm at the first charter meeting of the new Council class, after a vote that saw little drama and 48 votes in his favor. Council members, including those who had attempted to run for speaker themselves, took their turns singing Johnson’s praises as prominent elected officials and political influencers from across the five boroughs looked on from the balcony of the Council chambers. Johnson’s mother was there, too, having driven from Massachusetts to see him rise to the Council’s top leadership position.</p> <p>In an emotional acceptance speech, Johnson spoke about the importance of his mother in his life and some of the tough times they had faced. He spoke fondly of his predecessors and the city’s progress in the last four years under Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. But he warned of challenges of “historic proportions” that lay ahead: an affordability crisis that is pushing out residents of the city, an “overflowing” shelter system with thousands of homeless families, struggling mom and pop businesses, a mass transit crisis owing from years of government neglect, continued racial disparities across the city, and potential funding cuts from the state and federal governments. “These problems are incredibly complex and entrenched,” he said. “But the future of our city depends on our ability to confront them. And confront them we will.”</p> <p>In alluding to the many thorny issues that plagued the first term of the de Blasio administration, he promised to tackle them with increased independence from the mayor. “There has never been a more important time to ensure that our city has a strong, unified and independent Council to take on these challenges,” he said, with an emphasis on the word independent. He pledged unending support to his 50 constituents and promised to lead by consensus.</p> <p>Johnson emerged at the top of a crowded field of candidates who had sought the speakership but all of whom dropped out of the race and conceded to Johnson in the days leading up to the vote, after it emerged that he had the support of the Queens and Bronx Democratic county organizations, led by Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, respectively. But, in a city where people of color make a majority and that is already led by a white male mayor, there was some criticism around Johnson’s selection to what is considered the second-most powerful position in city government.</p> <p>Numerous Council members representing the Black, Asian and Latino Caucus had insisted that the next speaker should be a person of color. That included Council Member Inez Barron, who attempted a last-minute protest candidacy and voted for herself on Wednesday. “It’s time for a paradigm shift and that’s what I’m here to call for,” Barron had said at a news conference on the steps of City Hall shortly before the vote. “We’ve gotta put an end to the system that has deals that arrange for the speaker to be selected on behalf of what it is that county bosses and district leaders and other powerful players and other rich developers want to see happen here.” Her husband, Assembly Member (and former Council Member) Charles Barron, said, “The process is fraudulent, the process is racist, and the process is corrupt and its been that way for a long time.”</p> <p>Another speaker candidate, Council Member Jumaane Williams, who only conceded the race Wednesday morning, opted for skipping the vote entirely and instead attended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany, which was scheduled for around the same time (Williams is toying with a bid for governor or lieutenant governor, saying that Cuomo is not a true progressive). Williams had held out longer than most of the other speaker candidates, saying that the next speaker should be a person of color.</p> <p>In a Wednesday statement, Williams criticized the lack of diversity in leadership positions in city government even as he looked forward to working with Johnson. “Equity must be an issue of highest priority to the next Speaker of the City Council,” he said. “Having spoken at length with Council Member Johnson, he is acutely aware of those concerns, and has agreed, in a tangible and accountable way, to work alongside me on issues of equity, both in government and citywide, for people of diverse backgrounds across race, gender, sexual orientation, and more.”</p> <p>Williams and Council Member Debi Rose were the only two absences on Wednesday, meaning Johnson received 48 of the 49 votes cast. In his first remarks from the speaker’s podium on the Council chambers floor, Johnson also nominated members and a chair of the rules committee, which will help establish the new Council’s rules and the chairs and members of the other 40-plus issue committees. Johnson named Council Member Rory Lancman to chair the committee, and the speaker himself will be a member of it, as is customary. Johnson is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one of 33 members who had signed on to a draft package of rules reforms that are expected to move ahead in some form</a>.</p> <p>The newly elected speaker has not expressed any particular legislative priorities yet, though he has had a focus on public health as a Council member who chaired the health committee. He’s focused more of his public comments on bolstering the Council and how he would lead the body. He again said on Wednesday that he wants to add to the Council’s land use staff, recreate an investigations division, and offer Council members the opportunity to pursue their interests and priorities.</p> <p>Speaking with members of the media during a brief press conference after the formal proceedings, Johnson said he will seek a diverse staff, and said that Council Chief of Staff Ramon Martinez has been asked to stay on. He also said that he will look to female members and members of color to speak and lead on issues that he may not have direct experience with. Johnson said he will be talking with each member to see which committees they are interested in chairing or joining and would do his best to make as much of it work as possible. He is sure to also be guided by Crowley and Crespo, as well as other political heavyweights that helped him win the post, like the leaders of the hotel workers union and the firefighters union.</p> <p>And though many expect him to adopt a more top-down style of leadership than Mark-Viverito, he has insisted that he will sit down with individual members to gauge the needs of their district while formulating a larger agenda for the Council. On the Council floor, he named each member individually, telling them, “I want you to know that in good times and in bad, through thick and thin, I will always have your back. Those of you who supported me, those who didn’t support me, those who ran for speaker and those who have been here in this body and those who are new, I will have your back.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7398-corey-johnson-s-record-and-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Corey Johnson’s Record and Promises</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/corey-johnson-moments-after-being-elected-speaker-of-the-city-council-cfredit-william-alatriste.jpg" alt="corey johnson moments after being elected speaker of the city council cfredit william alatriste" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Speaker Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Corey Johnson, a Manhattan Democrat, was elected speaker of the New York City Council with near unanimous support on Wednesday, becoming the first leader of the 51-member legislative body who is an openly gay man and openly HIV-positive.</p> <p>Johnson took the helm at the first charter meeting of the new Council class, after a vote that saw little drama and 48 votes in his favor. Council members, including those who had attempted to run for speaker themselves, took their turns singing Johnson’s praises as prominent elected officials and political influencers from across the five boroughs looked on from the balcony of the Council chambers. Johnson’s mother was there, too, having driven from Massachusetts to see him rise to the Council’s top leadership position.</p> <p>In an emotional acceptance speech, Johnson spoke about the importance of his mother in his life and some of the tough times they had faced. He spoke fondly of his predecessors and the city’s progress in the last four years under Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. But he warned of challenges of “historic proportions” that lay ahead: an affordability crisis that is pushing out residents of the city, an “overflowing” shelter system with thousands of homeless families, struggling mom and pop businesses, a mass transit crisis owing from years of government neglect, continued racial disparities across the city, and potential funding cuts from the state and federal governments. “These problems are incredibly complex and entrenched,” he said. “But the future of our city depends on our ability to confront them. And confront them we will.”</p> <p>In alluding to the many thorny issues that plagued the first term of the de Blasio administration, he promised to tackle them with increased independence from the mayor. “There has never been a more important time to ensure that our city has a strong, unified and independent Council to take on these challenges,” he said, with an emphasis on the word independent. He pledged unending support to his 50 constituents and promised to lead by consensus.</p> <p>Johnson emerged at the top of a crowded field of candidates who had sought the speakership but all of whom dropped out of the race and conceded to Johnson in the days leading up to the vote, after it emerged that he had the support of the Queens and Bronx Democratic county organizations, led by Congressional Rep. Joe Crowley and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, respectively. But, in a city where people of color make a majority and that is already led by a white male mayor, there was some criticism around Johnson’s selection to what is considered the second-most powerful position in city government.</p> <p>Numerous Council members representing the Black, Asian and Latino Caucus had insisted that the next speaker should be a person of color. That included Council Member Inez Barron, who attempted a last-minute protest candidacy and voted for herself on Wednesday. “It’s time for a paradigm shift and that’s what I’m here to call for,” Barron had said at a news conference on the steps of City Hall shortly before the vote. “We’ve gotta put an end to the system that has deals that arrange for the speaker to be selected on behalf of what it is that county bosses and district leaders and other powerful players and other rich developers want to see happen here.” Her husband, Assembly Member (and former Council Member) Charles Barron, said, “The process is fraudulent, the process is racist, and the process is corrupt and its been that way for a long time.”</p> <p>Another speaker candidate, Council Member Jumaane Williams, who only conceded the race Wednesday morning, opted for skipping the vote entirely and instead attended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany, which was scheduled for around the same time (Williams is toying with a bid for governor or lieutenant governor, saying that Cuomo is not a true progressive). Williams had held out longer than most of the other speaker candidates, saying that the next speaker should be a person of color.</p> <p>In a Wednesday statement, Williams criticized the lack of diversity in leadership positions in city government even as he looked forward to working with Johnson. “Equity must be an issue of highest priority to the next Speaker of the City Council,” he said. “Having spoken at length with Council Member Johnson, he is acutely aware of those concerns, and has agreed, in a tangible and accountable way, to work alongside me on issues of equity, both in government and citywide, for people of diverse backgrounds across race, gender, sexual orientation, and more.”</p> <p>Williams and Council Member Debi Rose were the only two absences on Wednesday, meaning Johnson received 48 of the 49 votes cast. In his first remarks from the speaker’s podium on the Council chambers floor, Johnson also nominated members and a chair of the rules committee, which will help establish the new Council’s rules and the chairs and members of the other 40-plus issue committees. Johnson named Council Member Rory Lancman to chair the committee, and the speaker himself will be a member of it, as is customary. Johnson is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one of 33 members who had signed on to a draft package of rules reforms that are expected to move ahead in some form</a>.</p> <p>The newly elected speaker has not expressed any particular legislative priorities yet, though he has had a focus on public health as a Council member who chaired the health committee. He’s focused more of his public comments on bolstering the Council and how he would lead the body. He again said on Wednesday that he wants to add to the Council’s land use staff, recreate an investigations division, and offer Council members the opportunity to pursue their interests and priorities.</p> <p>Speaking with members of the media during a brief press conference after the formal proceedings, Johnson said he will seek a diverse staff, and said that Council Chief of Staff Ramon Martinez has been asked to stay on. He also said that he will look to female members and members of color to speak and lead on issues that he may not have direct experience with. Johnson said he will be talking with each member to see which committees they are interested in chairing or joining and would do his best to make as much of it work as possible. He is sure to also be guided by Crowley and Crespo, as well as other political heavyweights that helped him win the post, like the leaders of the hotel workers union and the firefighters union.</p> <p>And though many expect him to adopt a more top-down style of leadership than Mark-Viverito, he has insisted that he will sit down with individual members to gauge the needs of their district while formulating a larger agenda for the Council. On the Council floor, he named each member individually, telling them, “I want you to know that in good times and in bad, through thick and thin, I will always have your back. Those of you who supported me, those who didn’t support me, those who ran for speaker and those who have been here in this body and those who are new, I will have your back.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7398-corey-johnson-s-record-and-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Corey Johnson’s Record and Promises</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Corey Johnson’s Record and Promises 2018-01-02T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-02T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7398:corey-johnson-s-record-and-promises Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/corey_oath_of_office.jpg" alt="corey oath of office" width="600" height="415" /></p> <p>Corey Johnson takes the oath of office (photo: The City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Corey Johnson is expected to be elected the next speaker of the New York City Council on Wednesday, January 3, and will take the powerful office with a busy first-term legislative record and having made a slew of public promises during the speaker race that are likely to be watched closely by supporters, detractors, and others.</p> <p>Johnson, a Democrat re-elected for a second term in November, was one of eight Council members running for speaker, but he became the presumptive next speaker when Democratic county party leaders from Queens and the Bronx coalesced around his bid. Johnson was subsequently endorsed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other elected officials, while most of the other speaker candidates conceded and congratulated him.</p> <p>Two of the eight candidates, Council Members Robert Cornegy and Jumaane Williams, remained in the race, until Cornegy conceded on December 29. A ninth candidate, Council Member Inez Barron, announced her late-game and long-shot candidacy, however. All three are black and have expressed concern that the next speaker may not be a person of color and that Johnson would be yet another white man in a major city or state position of power.</p> <p>Johnson, who has promised a diverse leadership team and argued his own demographics -- he is openly gay and HIV positive -- indicate he will lead inclusively, represents District 3 in Manhattan, which covers a large swathe of the west side from the Holland Tunnel to Columbus Circle. When he was took office in 2014, he replaced outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn who, like Johnson, chaired the Committee on Health in her first term. Johnson will become the second openly gay speaker of the Council, after Quinn, and its first openly HIV-positive one.</p> <p>In his first term, Johnson has seen numerous bills he sponsored passed through the Council. Over four years, he introduced 59 bills, of which 29 have already become law while another 4 were approved by the Council but await action from the mayor as of December 24 (If the mayor fails to sign or veto the bills within 30 days of passage, they automatically become law.)</p> <p>Serving as chair of the health committee, Johnson sponsored many bills related to public health measures, such as to further regulate the sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes, requiring the city to conduct air quality surveys, and allowing individuals to choose their sex designation on birth certificates, among other bills. He backed measures regulating shift scheduling for retail and fast food workers and to mandate Department of Education reports on student health services, and he supported the successful extension of the city’s rent stabilization laws.</p> <p>Johnson headed a high-profile legislative effort, in conjunction with de Blasio, to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 by the end of 2020. He sponsored two bills, part of a larger package, that increased the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes or cigars, set a price-floor on tobacco products, and doubled the fee to obtain or renew a tobacco retail dealer license. Johnson has spoken passionately about his own battles with alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. He <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/885250167498301440" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has said</a> he has not had an alcoholic drink in more than eight years.</p> <p>While Johnson has had a focus on public health, he has not made particularly clear any other areas of deep interest that may inform a policy agenda as speaker of the Council. Outgoing Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito put a great deal of focus on legislation related to helping immigrants and reforming the criminal justice system.</p> <p>In running for speaker, Johnson has addressed a broad range of issues at numerous community forums and debates, and expressed policy priorities that may form his agenda both for the city and for the Council as an institution. He was one of 33 returning and newly elected Council members to sign on to a rules reform package that aims to improve the Council’s budget and legislative processes while also reforming and enhancing internal culture and workplace conditions. That package could move forward early in the new term at the behest of Johnson, whomever he names to chair the Council’s rules committee, and a majority of members overall.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rules Reform Package Supported by 33 Current and Incoming City Council Members</a>]</p> <p>Separately, Johnson has discussed ways in which he would run the Council and proposed several policies related to government transparency, elections reform, mass transit, land use, public housing, women’s rights, and other issues. At a series of speaker candidate forums, Johnson made clear his stances on a number of policy issues, sometimes in support, as with congestion pricing, at times in opposition, as with reforming the city Board of Elections.</p> <p>One of the City Council’s principle responsibilities is negotiating the city’s now-$86 billion budget with the mayoral administration. Johnson has insisted that, as speaker, he will only allow a vote on the budget after it has been fully posted online for 48 hours, including the Council’s discretionary funding awards, in an easily searchable format.</p> <p>“When we adopt our budget every single year, we should adopt it in a way so the public can easily search online and see how their taxpayer dollars are being spent by the Council and by the mayor,” he said at a speaker forum hosted by New York Law School, Citizens Union, and other good government groups in November. Johnson has also separately pledged additional support for Council members who employ participatory budgeting for capital projects in their districts. &nbsp;</p> <p>He has also said he would regularly make public his schedules of meetings with lobbyists, as is currently the practice for the mayor’s office, and post his schedule online for people to see. And he supports automatic Council votes on bills that have a supermajority: 34 members in the 51-seat body. “I think these are common-sense, transparency-related reforms that anyone who runs for speaker and hopefully more broadly Council members would be supportive of,” he told the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/city-councilman-prepares-unveil-reforms-boosting-transparency-article-1.3675894" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Daily News</a>.</p> <p>At the good government forum, Johnson also expressed support for certain voting and elections reforms. Although he said he is ardently opposed to non-partisan appointments at the scandal-plagued New York City Board of Elections, and does not back BOE reform in general, he came out in favor of noncitizen voting by legal permanent residents (though not undocumented residents of the five boroughs). He also said he supports rank-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, which would help prevent costly and labor-intensive runoff elections for the three citywide positions of mayor, public advocate, and comptroller. At a recent Council hearing, a State BOE official urged the city to immediately implement instant runoffs for future elections.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7369-state-board-of-elections-official-says-city-must-move-to-instant-runoff-voting" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Board of Elections Official Says City Must Move to Instant Runoff Voting</a>]</p> <p>A key challenge and expectation for Johnson will be exhibiting his independence from Mayor de Blasio. Mark-Viverito is a close ally of the mayor and was elected to her post with crucial support from him, at times leading some to question her willingness to advance legislation that he opposed. Johnson, however, is viewed as someone who is likely to take a stronger stand, apparently one of the reasons that the Queens and Bronx county leaders decided to back him, after they were bested in selecting the speaker last time around by a coalition including the Council’s progressive caucus, of which Johnson is a member.</p> <p>While Johnson is almost certain to take more oppositional stances to de Blasio in the new term, they are largely ideological allies, and have worked closely together on a number of initiatives, like the anti-smoking bills. Johnson has also raised money and campaigned on behalf of de Blasio reelection bid.</p> <p>One key area where Johnson’s independence might be put to the test is on congestion pricing, a concept that de Blasio has insisted is “regressive” and would hurt outer borough commuters. Johnson instead supports a congestion pricing proposal that has been put forward by Move New York, a transit advocacy coalition, which would apply tolls to the East River bridges while reducing tolls elsewhere, along with variable pricing based on peak traffic hours. Revenue raised would largely go toward the MTA, but also benefit road and bridge repairs.</p> <p>“I believe we should take the money that would be generated from congestion pricing, put it into a rapid bus service for the outer boroughs, invest in the underfunded capital plan for the MTA and continue to ensure that our mass transit system actually is a world class transit system,” Johnson said at a Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum in November. At the same event, Johnson also came out in favor of a new citywide waste removal plan -- “I think a zoned plan makes sense” -- and supported legislation to regulate commercial leases to help small business owners have a better chance at affording their rent. Separately, he has said the city should increase its subsidy to the state-controlled MTA, a position likely to be at odds with the mayor, who has repeatedly feuded with Governor Andrew Cuomo over MTA capital and operational funding.</p> <p>Another issue where Johnson breaks from de Blasio is on funding half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, commonly known as the Fair Fares proposal that was crafted by the Community Service Society of New York and Riders Alliance. Johnson believes the city should fund Fair Fares through congestion pricing, while de Blasio has proposed a tax on high-income New Yorkers to accomplish the same goal while additionally funding mass transit.</p> <p>What wasn’t lost to any observer in this speaker race was that all eight original candidates were men, following three consecutive terms of a female speaker (two for Quinn, one for Mark-Viverito). Issues related to women’s rights and opportunities and diverse representation in city government were especially prominent in several speaker forums. Johnson issued numerous pronouncements for which advocates and watchers both within government and outside of it will hold him accountable. At a December 1 <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2017/12/02/road-to-city-hall--city-council-speaker-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">debate on NY1</a>, he committed to supporting race and gender audits of city agencies. “The city workforce needs to be representative of the city of New York,” he said. “I would do that as the speaker of the Council.”</p> <p>Johnson is also said to have agreed to proposals from the Council’s women’s caucus, which did interviews with the eight male candidates and asked them to commit to funding a full-time staff position for the caucus, and to ensure gender balance in their leadership team and top committee chair positions.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7324-women-s-caucus-secures-commitments-from-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Women’s Caucus Secures Commitments from Council Speaker Candidates</a>]</p> <p>At a forum hosted by a coalition of advocates for women’s rights and LGBTQ and non-gender conforming New Yorkers, Johnson promised that a majority of his leadership team would comprise women and people of color and that more than half of his staff would be women and LGBTQ people. He said he would continue to support Mark-Viverito’s Young Women’s Initiative, which has a particular focus on young women of color and young cis and trans girls. Besides reiterating his support for women’s reproductive rights and committing to strong funding for Planned Parenthood, Johnson also said he would work with the host coalition on “<a href="https://avp.org/solutions-struggle-survival-tgnc-policy-brief/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Solutions out of Struggle and Survival</a>,” a slew of much-needed policies identified by trans and gender non-conforming advocates. He also spoke of implementing a less-punitive model of discipline at city schools, where current practices disproportionately affect students of colors.</p> <p>Additionally, Johnson recently <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2018/01/02/speaker-front-runner-corey-johnson-seeks-seismic-impact/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told The Village Voice</a> that he thinks the city may need to again expand its police form to continue its citywide implementation of neighborhood policing. The Council pushed for and won an expansion of the NYPD by about 1,300 officers under Mark-Viverito, with the argument that the added person-power is necessary to have more cops walking the beat and positively interacting with New Yorkers.</p> <p>Johnson is expected to be voted in as speaker at the first meeting of the full class of the new Council, on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at noon. He will then be able to name his leadership team of majority leader and deputy leaders, as well as the chairs of each of the Council’s more than 40 issue committees.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Grace Dixon contributed to this article.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/corey_oath_of_office.jpg" alt="corey oath of office" width="600" height="415" /></p> <p>Corey Johnson takes the oath of office (photo: The City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Corey Johnson is expected to be elected the next speaker of the New York City Council on Wednesday, January 3, and will take the powerful office with a busy first-term legislative record and having made a slew of public promises during the speaker race that are likely to be watched closely by supporters, detractors, and others.</p> <p>Johnson, a Democrat re-elected for a second term in November, was one of eight Council members running for speaker, but he became the presumptive next speaker when Democratic county party leaders from Queens and the Bronx coalesced around his bid. Johnson was subsequently endorsed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and many other elected officials, while most of the other speaker candidates conceded and congratulated him.</p> <p>Two of the eight candidates, Council Members Robert Cornegy and Jumaane Williams, remained in the race, until Cornegy conceded on December 29. A ninth candidate, Council Member Inez Barron, announced her late-game and long-shot candidacy, however. All three are black and have expressed concern that the next speaker may not be a person of color and that Johnson would be yet another white man in a major city or state position of power.</p> <p>Johnson, who has promised a diverse leadership team and argued his own demographics -- he is openly gay and HIV positive -- indicate he will lead inclusively, represents District 3 in Manhattan, which covers a large swathe of the west side from the Holland Tunnel to Columbus Circle. When he was took office in 2014, he replaced outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn who, like Johnson, chaired the Committee on Health in her first term. Johnson will become the second openly gay speaker of the Council, after Quinn, and its first openly HIV-positive one.</p> <p>In his first term, Johnson has seen numerous bills he sponsored passed through the Council. Over four years, he introduced 59 bills, of which 29 have already become law while another 4 were approved by the Council but await action from the mayor as of December 24 (If the mayor fails to sign or veto the bills within 30 days of passage, they automatically become law.)</p> <p>Serving as chair of the health committee, Johnson sponsored many bills related to public health measures, such as to further regulate the sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes, requiring the city to conduct air quality surveys, and allowing individuals to choose their sex designation on birth certificates, among other bills. He backed measures regulating shift scheduling for retail and fast food workers and to mandate Department of Education reports on student health services, and he supported the successful extension of the city’s rent stabilization laws.</p> <p>Johnson headed a high-profile legislative effort, in conjunction with de Blasio, to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 by the end of 2020. He sponsored two bills, part of a larger package, that increased the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes or cigars, set a price-floor on tobacco products, and doubled the fee to obtain or renew a tobacco retail dealer license. Johnson has spoken passionately about his own battles with alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. He <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/885250167498301440" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has said</a> he has not had an alcoholic drink in more than eight years.</p> <p>While Johnson has had a focus on public health, he has not made particularly clear any other areas of deep interest that may inform a policy agenda as speaker of the Council. Outgoing Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito put a great deal of focus on legislation related to helping immigrants and reforming the criminal justice system.</p> <p>In running for speaker, Johnson has addressed a broad range of issues at numerous community forums and debates, and expressed policy priorities that may form his agenda both for the city and for the Council as an institution. He was one of 33 returning and newly elected Council members to sign on to a rules reform package that aims to improve the Council’s budget and legislative processes while also reforming and enhancing internal culture and workplace conditions. That package could move forward early in the new term at the behest of Johnson, whomever he names to chair the Council’s rules committee, and a majority of members overall.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7378-rules-reform-package-supported-by-33-current-and-incoming-city-council-members" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rules Reform Package Supported by 33 Current and Incoming City Council Members</a>]</p> <p>Separately, Johnson has discussed ways in which he would run the Council and proposed several policies related to government transparency, elections reform, mass transit, land use, public housing, women’s rights, and other issues. At a series of speaker candidate forums, Johnson made clear his stances on a number of policy issues, sometimes in support, as with congestion pricing, at times in opposition, as with reforming the city Board of Elections.</p> <p>One of the City Council’s principle responsibilities is negotiating the city’s now-$86 billion budget with the mayoral administration. Johnson has insisted that, as speaker, he will only allow a vote on the budget after it has been fully posted online for 48 hours, including the Council’s discretionary funding awards, in an easily searchable format.</p> <p>“When we adopt our budget every single year, we should adopt it in a way so the public can easily search online and see how their taxpayer dollars are being spent by the Council and by the mayor,” he said at a speaker forum hosted by New York Law School, Citizens Union, and other good government groups in November. Johnson has also separately pledged additional support for Council members who employ participatory budgeting for capital projects in their districts. &nbsp;</p> <p>He has also said he would regularly make public his schedules of meetings with lobbyists, as is currently the practice for the mayor’s office, and post his schedule online for people to see. And he supports automatic Council votes on bills that have a supermajority: 34 members in the 51-seat body. “I think these are common-sense, transparency-related reforms that anyone who runs for speaker and hopefully more broadly Council members would be supportive of,” he told the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/city-councilman-prepares-unveil-reforms-boosting-transparency-article-1.3675894" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Daily News</a>.</p> <p>At the good government forum, Johnson also expressed support for certain voting and elections reforms. Although he said he is ardently opposed to non-partisan appointments at the scandal-plagued New York City Board of Elections, and does not back BOE reform in general, he came out in favor of noncitizen voting by legal permanent residents (though not undocumented residents of the five boroughs). He also said he supports rank-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, which would help prevent costly and labor-intensive runoff elections for the three citywide positions of mayor, public advocate, and comptroller. At a recent Council hearing, a State BOE official urged the city to immediately implement instant runoffs for future elections.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7369-state-board-of-elections-official-says-city-must-move-to-instant-runoff-voting" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Board of Elections Official Says City Must Move to Instant Runoff Voting</a>]</p> <p>A key challenge and expectation for Johnson will be exhibiting his independence from Mayor de Blasio. Mark-Viverito is a close ally of the mayor and was elected to her post with crucial support from him, at times leading some to question her willingness to advance legislation that he opposed. Johnson, however, is viewed as someone who is likely to take a stronger stand, apparently one of the reasons that the Queens and Bronx county leaders decided to back him, after they were bested in selecting the speaker last time around by a coalition including the Council’s progressive caucus, of which Johnson is a member.</p> <p>While Johnson is almost certain to take more oppositional stances to de Blasio in the new term, they are largely ideological allies, and have worked closely together on a number of initiatives, like the anti-smoking bills. Johnson has also raised money and campaigned on behalf of de Blasio reelection bid.</p> <p>One key area where Johnson’s independence might be put to the test is on congestion pricing, a concept that de Blasio has insisted is “regressive” and would hurt outer borough commuters. Johnson instead supports a congestion pricing proposal that has been put forward by Move New York, a transit advocacy coalition, which would apply tolls to the East River bridges while reducing tolls elsewhere, along with variable pricing based on peak traffic hours. Revenue raised would largely go toward the MTA, but also benefit road and bridge repairs.</p> <p>“I believe we should take the money that would be generated from congestion pricing, put it into a rapid bus service for the outer boroughs, invest in the underfunded capital plan for the MTA and continue to ensure that our mass transit system actually is a world class transit system,” Johnson said at a Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum in November. At the same event, Johnson also came out in favor of a new citywide waste removal plan -- “I think a zoned plan makes sense” -- and supported legislation to regulate commercial leases to help small business owners have a better chance at affording their rent. Separately, he has said the city should increase its subsidy to the state-controlled MTA, a position likely to be at odds with the mayor, who has repeatedly feuded with Governor Andrew Cuomo over MTA capital and operational funding.</p> <p>Another issue where Johnson breaks from de Blasio is on funding half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, commonly known as the Fair Fares proposal that was crafted by the Community Service Society of New York and Riders Alliance. Johnson believes the city should fund Fair Fares through congestion pricing, while de Blasio has proposed a tax on high-income New Yorkers to accomplish the same goal while additionally funding mass transit.</p> <p>What wasn’t lost to any observer in this speaker race was that all eight original candidates were men, following three consecutive terms of a female speaker (two for Quinn, one for Mark-Viverito). Issues related to women’s rights and opportunities and diverse representation in city government were especially prominent in several speaker forums. Johnson issued numerous pronouncements for which advocates and watchers both within government and outside of it will hold him accountable. At a December 1 <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2017/12/02/road-to-city-hall--city-council-speaker-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">debate on NY1</a>, he committed to supporting race and gender audits of city agencies. “The city workforce needs to be representative of the city of New York,” he said. “I would do that as the speaker of the Council.”</p> <p>Johnson is also said to have agreed to proposals from the Council’s women’s caucus, which did interviews with the eight male candidates and asked them to commit to funding a full-time staff position for the caucus, and to ensure gender balance in their leadership team and top committee chair positions.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7324-women-s-caucus-secures-commitments-from-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Women’s Caucus Secures Commitments from Council Speaker Candidates</a>]</p> <p>At a forum hosted by a coalition of advocates for women’s rights and LGBTQ and non-gender conforming New Yorkers, Johnson promised that a majority of his leadership team would comprise women and people of color and that more than half of his staff would be women and LGBTQ people. He said he would continue to support Mark-Viverito’s Young Women’s Initiative, which has a particular focus on young women of color and young cis and trans girls. Besides reiterating his support for women’s reproductive rights and committing to strong funding for Planned Parenthood, Johnson also said he would work with the host coalition on “<a href="https://avp.org/solutions-struggle-survival-tgnc-policy-brief/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Solutions out of Struggle and Survival</a>,” a slew of much-needed policies identified by trans and gender non-conforming advocates. He also spoke of implementing a less-punitive model of discipline at city schools, where current practices disproportionately affect students of colors.</p> <p>Additionally, Johnson recently <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2018/01/02/speaker-front-runner-corey-johnson-seeks-seismic-impact/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told The Village Voice</a> that he thinks the city may need to again expand its police form to continue its citywide implementation of neighborhood policing. The Council pushed for and won an expansion of the NYPD by about 1,300 officers under Mark-Viverito, with the argument that the added person-power is necessary to have more cops walking the beat and positively interacting with New Yorkers.</p> <p>Johnson is expected to be voted in as speaker at the first meeting of the full class of the new Council, on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at noon. He will then be able to name his leadership team of majority leader and deputy leaders, as well as the chairs of each of the Council’s more than 40 issue committees.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Grace Dixon contributed to this article.</p>
Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Mayor-Made Speaker, Sought a Member-Driven Legacy 2017-12-29T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7394:melissa-mark-viverito-a-mayor-made-speaker-who-sought-a-member-driven-legacy Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/16265643371_7f1d47f71f_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio Speaker Mark-Viverito" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to preside over the 51-member New York City Council, leaves office having shepherded a progressive shift in the city’s direction, in conjunction with fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, a philosophically aligned partner in government who was the deciding factor in her winning the powerful speaker position four years ago.</p> <p>As arguably the second most powerful elected official in the city, Mark-Viverito oversaw an agenda of progressivism that significantly moved the needle for causes of social justice, especially related to immigrants, workers, and the criminal justice system, many of which were close to her heart and supported by a Council dominated by progressive members. But when the needle didn’t move fast enough, there were those that said Mark-Viverito too often carried the mayor’s water. It’s a charge she disputes, as do numerous Council members that served under her as they look back at her four years at the helm.</p> <p>Members broadly agree that she followed through on a promise to give rank-and-file Council members the freedom to pursue their priorities while standing firm against the mayoral administration when it mattered, and that some capitulation to the administration’s priorities was part of the high-wire balancing act that defines the speakership. While they worked together far more often than they were in opposition, it was not always clear to what extent Mark-Viverito and her members, on one hand, and de Blasio, on the other, disagreed, given that the Council speaker often kept negotiations close to the vest and declined to comment in detail as the legislative process unfolded.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito and her members also rarely aired internal conflict publicly, while members appeared to know that their speaker would support them, even as she very much pursued her own policy priorities and kept a tight grip on what legislation made its way to the Council floor for a vote.</p> <p>The outgoing speaker made careful decisions about when and how to criticize the mayor, preferring to hold oversight hearings than to make splashy headlines with a sharp quote. She regularly declined to comment about de Blasio’s ethics and transparency problems, instead pursuing legislation to address certain issues or allowing others more willing to be oppositional to fill the space. She mostly stayed out of de Blasio’s feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo, another fellow Democrat, though she herself has been part of some tense intra-party political battles with officials like former Assemblymember and current Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito assumed the speakership in January 2014 with support from an ascendant mayor, strong labor unions, and a newly empowered Progressive Caucus, bucking the traditional county party-dominated process for selecting a new speaker. The new dynamic led some to be wary of whether Mark-Viverito would be a speaker for the members of the Council or for the mayor, whose politics so closely resembled her own. After taking office, she quickly advanced internal changes at the Council that were meant to empower members, particularly the chairs of the 40-odd committees, while also maintaining sufficient control within the speaker’s office.</p> <p>“The considerable thing about my leadership is that I made it a member-focused legislative body,” Mark-Viverito said, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “It wasn’t about me centralizing the power, just pushing what my agenda was…[it was about] having the members really have much more of a functional role and ownership for this institution. It belongs to all of us, it doesn’t just belong to the speaker.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito beefed up the Council staff to support members’ legislative priorities, she said, which led to greater output. Over the four years, the Council passed 714 bills under her leadership, more than any Council class before it. “I was being respectful to member priorities and the vision that they had and working with them on that...and I think that’s the way a legislative body should function,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>]</p> <p>The first two years of Mark-Viverito’s speakership proceeded amicably with the mayor for the most part. The Council played its part in supporting the mayor’s agenda that included universal pre-kindergarten and expanding the paid sick leave law. City spending ramped up with little opposition from the Council, which also advocated for increased spending on its own policy priorities.</p> <p>“I think that from the start the speaker was a forward thinking, independent leader,” said outgoing Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, a Queens Democrat. “She brought real fairness and transparency to the Council and made the Council a better place to work, from someone who had been in the Council for five years prior to her leadership.”</p> <p>An early area of disagreement was Mark-Viverito’s call for an increase in the NYPD’s headcount, which struck many as peculiar given her criticisms of police practices and the larger criminal justice system. She unsuccessfully pressed the issue in 2014, and then renewed her efforts in 2015, eventually convincing a hesitant de Blasio to back the expensive idea. The department ended up adding 1,300 new officers, a compromise among the Council, the mayor, and the NYPD.</p> <p>Also in 2015, in the city’s fight against the ride-hailing service Uber, Mark-Viverito publicly chastised the mayor for presuming that the Council would do his bidding. The mayor, after giving up his effort to cap the number of new cars run by Uber and its competitors, threatened that a cap was still a tool available to him, even though it would have to be approved by the Council first. “I’m not going to allow anyone to attempt to save face at the expense of this Council,” she said at a news conference at City Hall, raising many eyebrows. “This Council decides what bills we need to discuss, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table. No one else leads that discussion, no one else influences that discussion.”</p> <p>Higher profile battles would occur later still, as de Blasio’s first term wore on towards a potential second and as the speaker’s final term wound to a close. (Mark-Viverito was early to endorse de Blasio for reelection, but, over the following months, she seemed to show more willingness to resist his politics and policies.)&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think first and foremost, she’s been her speaker,” said Council Member Brad Lander, in a phone interview, on whether Mark-Viverito had been the members’ speaker or the mayor’s. “She’s got a strong vision for the city and for the Council and that’s what I think has guided her. I think it’s been a really productive and fair and highly consequential and progressive speakership.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/35061738875_734c469ce0_z.jpg" alt="De Blasio Mark-Viverito City Hall handshake Ed Reed Mayor's Office" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Lander, who was a leading proponent for Mark-Viverito to become the speaker and was named chair of the Council’s rules committee by her, praised the internal reforms that Mark-Viverito implemented early on, which he helped write. The reforms made the Council “a more equal and inclusive body in which every member can zealously represent their community and their values, even when those are different, without fear or favor,” Lander said. Perhaps most notably, Mark-Viverito and her colleagues changed the system by which members are provided discretionary funds to disperse to nonprofits, rationalizing a process that had often been used by previous speakers to reward and punish members.</p> <p>On particular issues, Lander said, Mark-Viverito facilitated legislation championed by members, such as the right to counsel for tenants in housing court, fair work-week legislation, and certain freelancer protections. The most impactful, in Lander’s view, was her successful advocacy for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. Mark-Viverito convened an independent commission to recommend a raft of criminal justice reforms and particularly to look at Rikers. De Blasio, who did not support the closure at first, seemed to begrudgingly accept the inevitable and announced his support just before the commission issued its report. “I believe Rikers is on a path to closure,” Lander said, “and I don’t think that would be true if [Mark-Viverito] had not been elected speaker four years ago.”</p> <p>Lander noted that while the speaker often agreed and collaborated with the mayor, she was not hesitant to oppose him or break with him when her members dictated she should. For instance, when she pulled a bill she supported from consideration by the full Council that would have curbed the city’s horse carriage industry. It was a prominent campaign issue in the 2013 mayoral race and de Blasio had advocated for and promised a complete ban. But, amid discontent from members on potential compromise legislation in early 2016, the speaker stood with her colleagues.</p> <p>“I think she’s been independent,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal critic of the de Blasio administration, in a November interview at City Hall. “Each speaker, just like each member, has their own political relationship with the other side of the building here. And no speaker’s going to be completely independent from the mayor or the governor or any other political actor that has influence.”</p> <p>As the process to select the next speaker of the City Council has played out in the final months and weeks of 2017, de Blasio has repeatedly said how well he thinks his involvement in Mark-Viverito’s victory turned out. De Blasio captured his overall feelings in June, when announcing a final budget deal with Mark-Viverito, saying of the speaker:</p> <blockquote> <p>“[S]he has been an extraordinary partner over the last four years. We knew each other well before we each assumed these roles. We knew that we had a lot of respect and trust for each other. We knew that we shared values. We didn’t know what it would be like to play these roles. We didn’t know what the times ahead would be or what the issues we’d face would be. But there was a core belief that if you share values, a lot of good things can happen. And many, many conversations over many years – mostly in agreement, sometimes not, but we always found a way to get to a good outcome, and with great support from all our colleagues. So from me, I can tell you I’ll be sorry when these four years are over because it has been such a great and positive partnership. As a progressive, I want to thank Melissa Mark-Viverito for helping to move this city in a new progressive direction. And the things she has championed are going to have a huge impact on this city for many years to come.”</p> </blockquote> <p>A former Council member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, served under both Mark-Viverito and former speaker Christine Quinn and said the process of Mark-Viverito’s election as speaker hampered her ability to distance herself from de Blasio. “Melissa started at a very great disadvantage, the fact that the mayor picked her to be the speaker and only because of him,” the former member said. “He made her. That hurt the whole body and it hurt her ability to really appear to be independent...because people perceived that the City Council is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the mayor. Right off the bat, that’s a bad start.”</p> <p>This former member did credit Mark-Viverito for giving more leeway than Quinn to Council members to push legislation and pursue their individual agendas, while also breaking with the mayor on controversial items. But even then, the member said, there was a degree of deference. “I think Melissa did check with the mayor on everything, and even when they broke, I think they probably checked with the mayor before they broke. So I think it was a real problem,” the former member said.</p> <p>On no other issue has that dynamic played out more strongly than criminal justice reform and the Council’s attempts to legislate, and regulate, the city’s police force. Two police reform bills to regulate officers’ interactions with people, collectively named The Right to Know Act, progressed slowly through the legislative process over the years despite having overwhelming support from Council members and progressive advocates. Tensions reached a head in mid-2016 when Mark-Viverito reached a compromise on administrative implementation by the NYPD of partial measures, in lieu of a full Council vote to codify the provisions into law. Advocates saw it as a backroom deal while Council members fumed over the concession to the administration and the police department.</p> <p>Amended versions of the bills would ultimately pass in a divisive vote at the final full meeting of the Council on December 19, 2017, with numerous Council members and hundreds of community groups coming out in opposition to one bill sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres that had been, in their view, diluted to appease the NYPD and the mayor, who said he’d sign the bill given it had struck the right balance despite his skepticism about too much legislating of NYPD protocols.</p> <p>Monifa Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy coalition, said in a statement that it was “disappointing,” particularly given Mark-Viverito’s progressive credentials on police reform and accountability. “While [Mark-Viverito] was a champion on Closing Rikers, she did not show the same willingness to fight for front-end police reforms that hold the NYPD accountable and systemically change racial disparities in policing and what feeds the criminal justice system,” Bandele said. “She spent three to four years blocking the Right to Know Act, and then helped the de Blasio administration undermine the half of the legislative package of which Council Member Torres was lead sponsor.” Bandele also criticized the speaker’s push to increase the headcount of the NYPD, which Mark-Viverito had <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/04/mark-viverito-defends-calls-for-police-expansion-and-reform-021178" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argued</a> would help with reforms and implementation of community policing.</p> <p>Council Member Torres also criticized the administrative compromise in 2016 and he told Gotham Gazette in November that Mark-Viverito had not been sufficiently independent of the mayor in that case. In a separate interview after a November 1 Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum, Torres indicated, amid praise, some dissatisfaction with the speaker’s record. “I support Melissa, I love Melissa as a person and as a speaker. I thought she has struck the right balance between decentralizing greater power to the members while at the same time maintaining the power of the speaker’s office,” he said. “There are a few moments when I felt we were excessively deferential to the mayor and I said so at the time of those controversies.”</p> <p>Torres had said at the Crain’s forum -- part of his bid to become Mark-Viverito’s successor as speaker -- that the Council was prone to sideshow distractions. “Oscar Lopez, Christopher Columbus, what’s the latest sensation of the week,” he elaborated in the interview afterward. “The Health and Hospitals Corporation could disappear within the next five years. NYCHA has $17 billion worth of capital needs. Those are the things that matter, those are the things that we should be discussing.”</p> <p>Torres later changed his tune somewhat, perhaps showcasing some of the mixed feelings Council members have about Mark-Viverito’s tenure and her relationships with de Blasio and her members. “She has been responsive to the needs of the members, there’s no question about it. As a member, I could not be more satisfied with the leadership that she’s given me,” Torres recently told Gotham Gazette at City Hall.</p> <p>As to his earlier comments on her independence, Torres said, “I think it’s a matter of degree. We could always be more effective, we could always be more independent. But has she fundamentally been representative of the needs of the members of the institution? The answer is yes. Not perfect, but fundamentally.” When the Right to Know Act headed to a vote and many of Torres’ colleagues criticized his bill, Mark-Viverito was one of his fiercest defenders, though a number of Council members felt that Torres and Mark-Viverito had capitulated too much to the de Blasio administration. Torres’ bill did pass.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a>, Mark-Viverito addressed working with de Blasio, and the Council negotiating hundreds of bills with the administration, along with land use deals, budgets, and more. “I can safely say that we’ve had a good partnership and I think that there are a lot of things that I was able to move them on and they had conversations with us and maybe there’s things that they [moved] us on,” she said December 20. “But definitely it was a very productive relationship in that way. And I think that in areas where they may have had concerns about pieces of legislation, really engaging with them and talking to them and exerting ourselves, we were able to get some reconsideration on those items. And that’s in consultation with colleagues...I’m not regretful of anything.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito is leaving office proud of the way she led the Council, and not ruling out her own run for mayor down the line. It’s no surprise that even though she is term-limited she did not challenge a sitting mayor of her own party who she is largely aligned with and who helped her reach the height of her power. She’s leaving office having not only ushered in significant changes to city law, but having altered the way the Council functions and how members expect to be treated by their leader.</p> <p>“Anyone that has to deal with a thousand bills over the course of a tenure is going to have to work to be tremendously balanced when you’re leading a legislative body against, at times, or in conjunction with the mayor’s administration,” said Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli, one of only three Republicans on the City Council who, more often than not, vote against the types of progressive legislation championed by Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“I don’t think you can box her in as being either/or [the members’ speaker or the mayor’s speaker]. I’m sure her critics will say that she’s both at times when it suits their narrative,” Borelli continued. “She’s someone who wore her progressive banner very proudly and that’s certainly going to be her legacy and I think people over the next few years will view her as someone who carried the football for progressive causes a bit further, and people like me and those I represent will see her tenure in the speakership as slightly different.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/16265643371_7f1d47f71f_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio Speaker Mark-Viverito" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to preside over the 51-member New York City Council, leaves office having shepherded a progressive shift in the city’s direction, in conjunction with fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, a philosophically aligned partner in government who was the deciding factor in her winning the powerful speaker position four years ago.</p> <p>As arguably the second most powerful elected official in the city, Mark-Viverito oversaw an agenda of progressivism that significantly moved the needle for causes of social justice, especially related to immigrants, workers, and the criminal justice system, many of which were close to her heart and supported by a Council dominated by progressive members. But when the needle didn’t move fast enough, there were those that said Mark-Viverito too often carried the mayor’s water. It’s a charge she disputes, as do numerous Council members that served under her as they look back at her four years at the helm.</p> <p>Members broadly agree that she followed through on a promise to give rank-and-file Council members the freedom to pursue their priorities while standing firm against the mayoral administration when it mattered, and that some capitulation to the administration’s priorities was part of the high-wire balancing act that defines the speakership. While they worked together far more often than they were in opposition, it was not always clear to what extent Mark-Viverito and her members, on one hand, and de Blasio, on the other, disagreed, given that the Council speaker often kept negotiations close to the vest and declined to comment in detail as the legislative process unfolded.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito and her members also rarely aired internal conflict publicly, while members appeared to know that their speaker would support them, even as she very much pursued her own policy priorities and kept a tight grip on what legislation made its way to the Council floor for a vote.</p> <p>The outgoing speaker made careful decisions about when and how to criticize the mayor, preferring to hold oversight hearings than to make splashy headlines with a sharp quote. She regularly declined to comment about de Blasio’s ethics and transparency problems, instead pursuing legislation to address certain issues or allowing others more willing to be oppositional to fill the space. She mostly stayed out of de Blasio’s feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo, another fellow Democrat, though she herself has been part of some tense intra-party political battles with officials like former Assemblymember and current Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito assumed the speakership in January 2014 with support from an ascendant mayor, strong labor unions, and a newly empowered Progressive Caucus, bucking the traditional county party-dominated process for selecting a new speaker. The new dynamic led some to be wary of whether Mark-Viverito would be a speaker for the members of the Council or for the mayor, whose politics so closely resembled her own. After taking office, she quickly advanced internal changes at the Council that were meant to empower members, particularly the chairs of the 40-odd committees, while also maintaining sufficient control within the speaker’s office.</p> <p>“The considerable thing about my leadership is that I made it a member-focused legislative body,” Mark-Viverito said, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “It wasn’t about me centralizing the power, just pushing what my agenda was…[it was about] having the members really have much more of a functional role and ownership for this institution. It belongs to all of us, it doesn’t just belong to the speaker.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito beefed up the Council staff to support members’ legislative priorities, she said, which led to greater output. Over the four years, the Council passed 714 bills under her leadership, more than any Council class before it. “I was being respectful to member priorities and the vision that they had and working with them on that...and I think that’s the way a legislative body should function,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>]</p> <p>The first two years of Mark-Viverito’s speakership proceeded amicably with the mayor for the most part. The Council played its part in supporting the mayor’s agenda that included universal pre-kindergarten and expanding the paid sick leave law. City spending ramped up with little opposition from the Council, which also advocated for increased spending on its own policy priorities.</p> <p>“I think that from the start the speaker was a forward thinking, independent leader,” said outgoing Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, a Queens Democrat. “She brought real fairness and transparency to the Council and made the Council a better place to work, from someone who had been in the Council for five years prior to her leadership.”</p> <p>An early area of disagreement was Mark-Viverito’s call for an increase in the NYPD’s headcount, which struck many as peculiar given her criticisms of police practices and the larger criminal justice system. She unsuccessfully pressed the issue in 2014, and then renewed her efforts in 2015, eventually convincing a hesitant de Blasio to back the expensive idea. The department ended up adding 1,300 new officers, a compromise among the Council, the mayor, and the NYPD.</p> <p>Also in 2015, in the city’s fight against the ride-hailing service Uber, Mark-Viverito publicly chastised the mayor for presuming that the Council would do his bidding. The mayor, after giving up his effort to cap the number of new cars run by Uber and its competitors, threatened that a cap was still a tool available to him, even though it would have to be approved by the Council first. “I’m not going to allow anyone to attempt to save face at the expense of this Council,” she said at a news conference at City Hall, raising many eyebrows. “This Council decides what bills we need to discuss, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table. No one else leads that discussion, no one else influences that discussion.”</p> <p>Higher profile battles would occur later still, as de Blasio’s first term wore on towards a potential second and as the speaker’s final term wound to a close. (Mark-Viverito was early to endorse de Blasio for reelection, but, over the following months, she seemed to show more willingness to resist his politics and policies.)&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think first and foremost, she’s been her speaker,” said Council Member Brad Lander, in a phone interview, on whether Mark-Viverito had been the members’ speaker or the mayor’s. “She’s got a strong vision for the city and for the Council and that’s what I think has guided her. I think it’s been a really productive and fair and highly consequential and progressive speakership.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/35061738875_734c469ce0_z.jpg" alt="De Blasio Mark-Viverito City Hall handshake Ed Reed Mayor's Office" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Lander, who was a leading proponent for Mark-Viverito to become the speaker and was named chair of the Council’s rules committee by her, praised the internal reforms that Mark-Viverito implemented early on, which he helped write. The reforms made the Council “a more equal and inclusive body in which every member can zealously represent their community and their values, even when those are different, without fear or favor,” Lander said. Perhaps most notably, Mark-Viverito and her colleagues changed the system by which members are provided discretionary funds to disperse to nonprofits, rationalizing a process that had often been used by previous speakers to reward and punish members.</p> <p>On particular issues, Lander said, Mark-Viverito facilitated legislation championed by members, such as the right to counsel for tenants in housing court, fair work-week legislation, and certain freelancer protections. The most impactful, in Lander’s view, was her successful advocacy for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. Mark-Viverito convened an independent commission to recommend a raft of criminal justice reforms and particularly to look at Rikers. De Blasio, who did not support the closure at first, seemed to begrudgingly accept the inevitable and announced his support just before the commission issued its report. “I believe Rikers is on a path to closure,” Lander said, “and I don’t think that would be true if [Mark-Viverito] had not been elected speaker four years ago.”</p> <p>Lander noted that while the speaker often agreed and collaborated with the mayor, she was not hesitant to oppose him or break with him when her members dictated she should. For instance, when she pulled a bill she supported from consideration by the full Council that would have curbed the city’s horse carriage industry. It was a prominent campaign issue in the 2013 mayoral race and de Blasio had advocated for and promised a complete ban. But, amid discontent from members on potential compromise legislation in early 2016, the speaker stood with her colleagues.</p> <p>“I think she’s been independent,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal critic of the de Blasio administration, in a November interview at City Hall. “Each speaker, just like each member, has their own political relationship with the other side of the building here. And no speaker’s going to be completely independent from the mayor or the governor or any other political actor that has influence.”</p> <p>As the process to select the next speaker of the City Council has played out in the final months and weeks of 2017, de Blasio has repeatedly said how well he thinks his involvement in Mark-Viverito’s victory turned out. De Blasio captured his overall feelings in June, when announcing a final budget deal with Mark-Viverito, saying of the speaker:</p> <blockquote> <p>“[S]he has been an extraordinary partner over the last four years. We knew each other well before we each assumed these roles. We knew that we had a lot of respect and trust for each other. We knew that we shared values. We didn’t know what it would be like to play these roles. We didn’t know what the times ahead would be or what the issues we’d face would be. But there was a core belief that if you share values, a lot of good things can happen. And many, many conversations over many years – mostly in agreement, sometimes not, but we always found a way to get to a good outcome, and with great support from all our colleagues. So from me, I can tell you I’ll be sorry when these four years are over because it has been such a great and positive partnership. As a progressive, I want to thank Melissa Mark-Viverito for helping to move this city in a new progressive direction. And the things she has championed are going to have a huge impact on this city for many years to come.”</p> </blockquote> <p>A former Council member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, served under both Mark-Viverito and former speaker Christine Quinn and said the process of Mark-Viverito’s election as speaker hampered her ability to distance herself from de Blasio. “Melissa started at a very great disadvantage, the fact that the mayor picked her to be the speaker and only because of him,” the former member said. “He made her. That hurt the whole body and it hurt her ability to really appear to be independent...because people perceived that the City Council is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the mayor. Right off the bat, that’s a bad start.”</p> <p>This former member did credit Mark-Viverito for giving more leeway than Quinn to Council members to push legislation and pursue their individual agendas, while also breaking with the mayor on controversial items. But even then, the member said, there was a degree of deference. “I think Melissa did check with the mayor on everything, and even when they broke, I think they probably checked with the mayor before they broke. So I think it was a real problem,” the former member said.</p> <p>On no other issue has that dynamic played out more strongly than criminal justice reform and the Council’s attempts to legislate, and regulate, the city’s police force. Two police reform bills to regulate officers’ interactions with people, collectively named The Right to Know Act, progressed slowly through the legislative process over the years despite having overwhelming support from Council members and progressive advocates. Tensions reached a head in mid-2016 when Mark-Viverito reached a compromise on administrative implementation by the NYPD of partial measures, in lieu of a full Council vote to codify the provisions into law. Advocates saw it as a backroom deal while Council members fumed over the concession to the administration and the police department.</p> <p>Amended versions of the bills would ultimately pass in a divisive vote at the final full meeting of the Council on December 19, 2017, with numerous Council members and hundreds of community groups coming out in opposition to one bill sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres that had been, in their view, diluted to appease the NYPD and the mayor, who said he’d sign the bill given it had struck the right balance despite his skepticism about too much legislating of NYPD protocols.</p> <p>Monifa Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy coalition, said in a statement that it was “disappointing,” particularly given Mark-Viverito’s progressive credentials on police reform and accountability. “While [Mark-Viverito] was a champion on Closing Rikers, she did not show the same willingness to fight for front-end police reforms that hold the NYPD accountable and systemically change racial disparities in policing and what feeds the criminal justice system,” Bandele said. “She spent three to four years blocking the Right to Know Act, and then helped the de Blasio administration undermine the half of the legislative package of which Council Member Torres was lead sponsor.” Bandele also criticized the speaker’s push to increase the headcount of the NYPD, which Mark-Viverito had <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/04/mark-viverito-defends-calls-for-police-expansion-and-reform-021178" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argued</a> would help with reforms and implementation of community policing.</p> <p>Council Member Torres also criticized the administrative compromise in 2016 and he told Gotham Gazette in November that Mark-Viverito had not been sufficiently independent of the mayor in that case. In a separate interview after a November 1 Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum, Torres indicated, amid praise, some dissatisfaction with the speaker’s record. “I support Melissa, I love Melissa as a person and as a speaker. I thought she has struck the right balance between decentralizing greater power to the members while at the same time maintaining the power of the speaker’s office,” he said. “There are a few moments when I felt we were excessively deferential to the mayor and I said so at the time of those controversies.”</p> <p>Torres had said at the Crain’s forum -- part of his bid to become Mark-Viverito’s successor as speaker -- that the Council was prone to sideshow distractions. “Oscar Lopez, Christopher Columbus, what’s the latest sensation of the week,” he elaborated in the interview afterward. “The Health and Hospitals Corporation could disappear within the next five years. NYCHA has $17 billion worth of capital needs. Those are the things that matter, those are the things that we should be discussing.”</p> <p>Torres later changed his tune somewhat, perhaps showcasing some of the mixed feelings Council members have about Mark-Viverito’s tenure and her relationships with de Blasio and her members. “She has been responsive to the needs of the members, there’s no question about it. As a member, I could not be more satisfied with the leadership that she’s given me,” Torres recently told Gotham Gazette at City Hall.</p> <p>As to his earlier comments on her independence, Torres said, “I think it’s a matter of degree. We could always be more effective, we could always be more independent. But has she fundamentally been representative of the needs of the members of the institution? The answer is yes. Not perfect, but fundamentally.” When the Right to Know Act headed to a vote and many of Torres’ colleagues criticized his bill, Mark-Viverito was one of his fiercest defenders, though a number of Council members felt that Torres and Mark-Viverito had capitulated too much to the de Blasio administration. Torres’ bill did pass.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a>, Mark-Viverito addressed working with de Blasio, and the Council negotiating hundreds of bills with the administration, along with land use deals, budgets, and more. “I can safely say that we’ve had a good partnership and I think that there are a lot of things that I was able to move them on and they had conversations with us and maybe there’s things that they [moved] us on,” she said December 20. “But definitely it was a very productive relationship in that way. And I think that in areas where they may have had concerns about pieces of legislation, really engaging with them and talking to them and exerting ourselves, we were able to get some reconsideration on those items. And that’s in consultation with colleagues...I’m not regretful of anything.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito is leaving office proud of the way she led the Council, and not ruling out her own run for mayor down the line. It’s no surprise that even though she is term-limited she did not challenge a sitting mayor of her own party who she is largely aligned with and who helped her reach the height of her power. She’s leaving office having not only ushered in significant changes to city law, but having altered the way the Council functions and how members expect to be treated by their leader.</p> <p>“Anyone that has to deal with a thousand bills over the course of a tenure is going to have to work to be tremendously balanced when you’re leading a legislative body against, at times, or in conjunction with the mayor’s administration,” said Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli, one of only three Republicans on the City Council who, more often than not, vote against the types of progressive legislation championed by Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“I don’t think you can box her in as being either/or [the members’ speaker or the mayor’s speaker]. I’m sure her critics will say that she’s both at times when it suits their narrative,” Borelli continued. “She’s someone who wore her progressive banner very proudly and that’s certainly going to be her legacy and I think people over the next few years will view her as someone who carried the football for progressive causes a bit further, and people like me and those I represent will see her tenure in the speakership as slightly different.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>