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 - March 10, 2004
Quote of the Day:
"Councilman James Davis died in these chambers as a result of gun violence... I am asking that we stand together in his memory... and vote to repudiate the statements of the NRA... I'm doing this in the spirit of Councilman James Davis who speaks through me today." - Brooklyn Councilmember Letitia James urging support of a City Council resolution denouncing the National Rifle Association.
The main item of business at the March 10th City Council meeting was the approval the council's $45 million operating budget.
This money pays for council member salaries of $90,000 a year, bonuses, and operating costs for the legislative branch. It also funds the 279 employees who work for the City Council.
Speaker Gifford Miller said that the budget reflects the "serious fiscal situation the city finds itself in" and cuts $207,000 or about a half of 1 percent from the previous year's budget.
While the council's total operating budget did decrease, the amount of money for council member salaries and bonuses actually increased by $70,000 because more stipends were added for those who chair committees. (See a list of each council member's salary and bonus.)
The council passed no new laws on March 10, in part because much of its time is currently consumed by budget hearings. The council holds public sessions on each area of the city's $45 billion budget and then makes recommendations to the mayor. (See a schedule of budget hearings.)
The council did pass three resolutions, which hold no legal weight, but reflect the official opinion of the City Council.
One (Res 123-A) joins local governments of Chicago and Los Angeles in calling for more federal homeland security funds for cities.
Another (Res 177) seeks justice for Hungarian holocaust survivors who had works of art and money stolen from them in World War II.
And the third (Res 11-A) calls on the Republican National Committee to "repudiate the irresponsible and dangerous policies of the National Rifle Association."
Several Democrats and the three Republicans voted against the resolution, arguing that while it would be appropriate to protest on the steps of City Hall, the legislative process should not be used for such an issue.
"This is inappropriate, a slap in the face to our Republican colleagues, and partisan politics in the worst way," said Democrat Tony Avella.
The majority of council members supported and passed the resolution.
"This is not a condemnation of Republicans or the Republican Party," said Speaker Miller. "The NRA supports policies that cause death and violence in our country and our city."
The council also honored the life of Harriet Tubman, a slave who escaped from the south in 1849 and helped thousands of others do the same as part of the "underground railroad." Fulton Street in Brooklyn will soon be renamed in her honor.
The next stated meeting is scheduled for March 24, 2004
For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.