New York City Council Stated Meeting Report
Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting, where the 51 members of the council introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of what bills were passed.
STATED MEETING - MARCH 12, 2003
Quote of the Day:
"We have spent more time and more energy, both publicly and privately, on this issue than we did on the property tax vote. Those are the issues we were elected to talk about, not foreign affairs."
– Republican City Councilmember James Oddo on the City Council's anti-war resolution.
On March 12, New York City joined some 125 other cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Kalamazoo in passing a resolution urging restraint in a possible war with Iraq.
After significant revisions to the initial resolution and lengthy debate, the New York City Council passed its resolution with 30 "yes" and 18 "no" votes. (For a list of who supported and opposed the resolution, see the list below).
The council's resolution (Res 549-A) opposes a pre-emptive military attack unless it can be demonstrated that "Iraq poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States" or unless all other options of achieving compliance with United Nations resolutions have failed.
The resolution also calls on the United States government to:
- make all efforts to work with the United Nations Security Council
- take appropriate steps toward securing participation of other nations to ensure that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction
- work with the United Nations and other countries to ensure access of weapons inspectors
- ensure that inspectors be given a full and fair opportunity to conduct their work
The resolution changed significantly from its initial wording, which had sharp criticism for the Bush administration and warned of "devastating consequences" of a war.
The council members who usually vote unanimously on most legislation argued passionately on both sides of the issue.
"We are not being forced into war to protect ourselves," said Councilmember David Yassky, who supported the measure. "We can not push the rest of the world into democracy by ourselves."
"New York was attacked by terrorists," countered Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr. "Saddam Hussein supports terrorists. He is a terrorist. The risk of inaction is too great."
Some felt that the debate extended beyond the actual wording in the document. "This is not an anti-war or a pro-war resolution," said Bronx Councilmember G. Oliver Koppell. "It is a resolution that says killing people should always be a last resort."
Others argued that the resolution was meaningless and sent the wrong message to members of the U.S. armed forces. "It is evident from this debate that we are not even sure what the message of this resolution is," said Staten Island Councilmember Michael McMahon.
Other legislation was overshadowed by the debate over a possible war with Iraq.
The council unanimously approved a measure (Intro 102-A) requiring future New York City mayors to turn over their records to the city's Municipal Archives upon leaving office.
The legislation was inspired by the actions of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who removed more than 2,000 boxes of his mayoral records to a Queens warehouse before leaving office. However, Giuliani does not have to immediately turn over his records, an exception negotiated by the Bloomberg administration. Councilmember Bill Perkins, who drafted the legislation, promised that an oversight committee would ensure that all of the Giuliani records are eventually returned to the city.
The council also passed several resolutions urging the State Legislature to preserve rent regulation. These measures were largely symbolic since the City Council does not have the power to change rent laws on its own.
The first measure (Res 690/Intro 367) fulfills the City Council's portion of the legislative process to extend rent regulations. The second (Res 691) calls on Albany to repeal the Urstadt law, which prevents New York City from passing rent laws that supercede state laws. The third resolution (Res 692) supports the State Assembly, which recently passed its rent regulation measure, and urges the State Senate and the Governor to do the same.
The first resolutions were passed by a vote of 45 to 3; the three Republican council members James Oddo, Dennis Gallagher, and Andrew Lanza opposed them. The third passed by a vote of 44 to 4. The three Republicans, joined by Peter Vallone, Jr., voted against it.
The next stated meeting is scheduled for March 26.
CITY COUNCIL VOTE ON THE ANTI-WAR RESOLUTION 549-A