Sunday, January 26, 2014

NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito awards posts to pals, zilch to nonsupporters

Local

Of the New York City Council’s 51 members, 47 got spots on Melissa Mark-Viverito's leadership team or received a committee or subcommittee chairmanship — jobs that come with stipends, known as ‘lulus,’ ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a year in addition to their salaries of $112,500. The four who got nothing all were slow to back her for speaker.

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City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito handed out leadership spots or committee posts on Wednesday to 47 of 51 Council members.

Bryan Smith

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito handed out leadership spots or committee posts on Wednesday to 47 of 51 Council members. She claimed the choices weren’t political: 'I believe I came to a decision that will truly reflect the work that we have ahead of us and that will be in the best interests of the city of New York.'

New York’s new City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito doled out paid leadership posts Wednesday and there was something for nearly everyone — except for a handful of her political opponents.
Early backers of Mark-Viverito in the speaker’s race — including members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus and members of the Brooklyn delegation — landed many of the most coveted positions.
Forty-seven of the Council’s 51 members were assigned a spot on her leadership team or given a committee or subcommittee chairmanship — jobs that come with stipends, known as “lulus,” ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a year in addition to their salaries of $112,500.
The four who got nothing all were slow to back Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) for speaker when it became clear that Councilman Daniel Garodnick did not have the votes to win.
Two Queens members who broke with their county’s Democratic organization to support Mark-Viverito won choice roles. Jimmy Van Bramer was named majority leader and Julissa Ferreras scored the Finance Committee chairmanship, considered one of the two most powerful in the body.
Councilman Ritchie Torres, who bucked the Bronx Democratic boss, ended up as the only freshman on the Council leadership team and as chairman of the Public Housing Committee.
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After it became clear that Councilman Dan Garodnic, pictured, didn't have the votes to win the role of speaker, four Council members were slow to back Melissa Mark-Viverito — and on Wednesday, the new speaker did not give those four paid leadership positions.

James Keivom/New York Daily News

After it became clear that Councilman Dan Garodnic, pictured, didn't have the votes to win the role of speaker, four Council members were slow to back Melissa Mark-Viverito — and on Wednesday, the new speaker did not give those four paid leadership positions.

Democrat David Greenfield, a key player in the deal to throw Brooklyn’s support behind Mark-Viverito, was named head of the Land Use Committee.
There were some concessions to the opposing camp, including a spot on the Council leadership team for Garodnick (D-Manhattan).
But Annabel Palma (D-Bronx), one of Mark-Viverito’s fiercest critics during the speaker’s race, was ousted as chairwoman of the General Welfare Committee.
“This is political retribution,” she said. “It’s business as usual.”
Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan), stripped of the Public Housing chairmanship, was also left without a post. “It’s politics,” she said. “That’s life.”
Councilman Andy King (D-Bronx) said he was “a little confused” as to why he came up empty-handed.
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These New York City Council members won jobs that come stipends ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a year.

These New York City Council members won jobs that come stipends ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a year.

“We had outside entities determining how we were supposed to make our decision. Whether that transferred over [into committee assignments], I couldn’t say,” he said.
Mark-Viverito claimed the choices weren’t political.
“This is a process, and it’s been very deliberative,” she said. “I believe I came to a decision that will truly reflect the work that we have ahead of us and that will be in the best interests of the city of New York.”
Some black Council members also said there weren’t enough African-Americans in top posts.
“My hope was that diversity would be considered a little bit more,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn). “I am concerned about blacks in powerful positions.”
One of Mark-Viverito’s allies, Rules Committee Chairman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), said he spoke with members of Mayor de Blasio’s administration as the assignments were determined. De Blasio had lobbied Council members to support fellow liberal Mark-Viverito for speaker.
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“A lot of people said, ‘What’s going on, how are things looking?’ Any number of people did that,” he said. This included members of the administration, he added. “In those situations, I didn’t say that much … I just sort of said, ‘What do you think, have you got a thought on this or that.’ ”
But Lander said those conversations never got into “specifics.”
“If the question is, ‘Did you have conversations with folks in the administration about who should get what committee,’ then the answer is, ‘No,’” he said.
In election questionnaires, a majority of Council members expressed support for ending the lulus for committee chairmen — but for now, they will be doled out.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Queens), the new Senior Centers chairman, plans to keep his $8,000 stipend, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Ferreras told the Daily News that she would accept her $15,000 lulu but donate a “generous” portion to charity. Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn), who will get $8,000 as head of the General Welfare Committee, said he would do the same.
Garodnick and Parks Committee Chairman Mark Levine both said they would refuse the money. Greenfield said he’d give all of his stipend to charity. Contracts Committee Chairwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said she hoped to pass her $8,000 on to her staff.
Mark-Viverito said whether to end lulus would be debated as part of a package of rules reforms the Council plans to take up.
edurkin@nydailynews.com
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