Gotham Gazette

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New York City Council Stated Meeting Report

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

STATED MEETING - September 17, 2003

Meeting Summary:

The members of the New York City Council spent much of the summer campaigning for reelection - not drafting new legislation - and so the council had a simple agenda for its September 17 meeting.

The council only passed one new bill (Intro 555) approving a new taxi station in Queens for a company called "A Ride For All." The new car service will be the first to exclusively provide vehicles that accomodate passengers who use wheelchairs or scooters. The company will begin with only five vehicles, but if demand is high enough it could quickly expand to 50 cabs or more, according to Councilmember John Liu who chairs the transportation committee.

The council approved the station by a vote of 48 to 0, but Lower East Side Councilmember Margarita Lopez warned that it should not be seen as a sign that the Bloomberg administration was meeting the transportation needs of disabled New Yorkers.

"The administration has been sitting on a mandate to provide bay stations with [handicap] accessible cars," said Lopez. "This piece of legislation is good, but it is a decoy."

The council also approved five new appointments to city commissions. Under the city charter, the mayor and the council must agree on certain appointments and these are routinely done with little debate.

However, the appointment of Rudy Washington, a former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, to the New York City Civil Service Commission drew criticism from some council members. In 1994, Mayor Giuliani dismantled a program that steered government contracts to minority owned businesses and Washington, as the commissioner of the Department of Business Services, oversaw the policy changes. Washington also sparked controversy when he shut down street vendors on 125th Street in Harlem and Fulton Street in Brooklyn.

"His record was horrendous," said Councilmember Charles Barron. "I think when we appoint people to positions as important as dealing with labor and workers, we need people who are more friendly to workers and create jobs."

Other members - including Dennis Gallagher and Helen Sears - spoke highly of Washington. "I have never known him to perform his work as a Republican or a Democrat," said Sears. "He has performed his duties as a public servant."

Washington's appointment was approved by a vote of 46 to 2; Charles Barron and Bill Perkins voted "no."

Alice Olick and Aladar Gyimesi were also appointed to the New York City Tax Commission, and Belle Horwitz and Robert Carver were named to the Environmental Control Board.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for September 30.

For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.