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Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled proposals yesterday to make the distribution of member items more equitable and to reform the bill-drafting process. Under the plan, council members would receive an equal amount of member item money, also called discretionary funds, though districts with high poverty rates could get an extra 25 percent in funding. Mark-Viverito would still control a large amount of council money called the "Speaker's List" that she would be free spread around. The former speaker, Christine Quinn, was criticized for using the discretionary funds as a way to punish council members. Last year, some council member barely received just above the minimum of $340,464 while others took in over $1 million of the total $34,173,872, according to Citizen's Union. Mayor Bill de Blasio and advocates have called for member items to be abolished altogether, but praised the proposal as progress nonetheless. Under the rules changes committee chairs would also be able to hold a hearing on any bill that has the support of two-thirds of the council members. And a unit would be created to draft bills requested by members, not just leadership. A council hearing on the proposals is scheduled for May 7.

New from Gotham Gazette
The City Council Moves Forward On Reform
Kristen Meriwether examines the proposed changes to member item allocation.

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Gotham Gazette interviews the city's new director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency
Part 1: Resiliency Planning Post-Sandy: An Interview with Daniel Zarrilli

Restoring Sanity to Student Promotion Decisions
An op-ed by Norm Fruchter, senior research at the Annenberg Institute and mayoral appointee to the Panel for Education Policy

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