Big in DC
Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander’s interest in local issues has resulted in some national attention.
Tomorrow morning, the White House will be honoring Mr. Lander as an “open-government and civic hacking” “Champion of Change” for his work on behalf of participatory budgeting in the City Council.
Embattled Councilman Dan Halloran, whom federal prosecutors have charged with quarterbacking a bribery scheme to rig the mayor’s race, is having trouble holding staff members.
First, Mr. Halloran’s legislative director, John Mulvey, bailed, followed by his chief of staff, Chrissy Voskerichian. And today, Kevin Ryan, Mr. Halloran’s spokesman, just did the same.
exiting stage right
Councilman Dan Halloran, who has been charged with helping quarterback a bribery scheme to rig the mayoral race, will not seek another term in office, he announced this afternoon.
“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” he said in a statement. “After much thought, I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign, so I will not to pursue another term in the Council.”
Hammering on Halloran
The City Council will vote next week to strip Councilman Dan Halloran of all his committee assignments after he was charged today with taking part in a bribery scheme.
“These allegations represent a reprehensible abuse of the public’s trust,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement earlier this afternooon. “If true, then the full weight of the legal system should be brought to bear on all parties implicated. The matter will be immediately referred to the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee.”
Law & Order
Two of the most colorful characters in New York City politics, Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith and GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, were arrested earlier this morning, according to multiple news outlets. They were among six people reportedly charged, including Bronx GOP chair Jay Savino and Queens GOP vice-chair Vince Tabone, in an alleged bribery plot to secure Mr. Smith a slot to run in the Republican mayoral primary.
Mr. Halloran is known for many things in city politics, including his outspoken embrace of libertarian philosophy, disputed reports of an intentional snowplow slowdown after 2010′s infamous blizzard, and his pagan religion. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith might be best known for his zoot suits complete with suspenders and pinstripes, picking strange political battles like a press conference denouncing the rapper Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter, and his somewhat surprising decision to seek City Hall’s top job on the other side of the partisan aisle without actually changing his voter registration. He would have needed the support of three GOP county leaders to do so, which federal prosecutors are alleging is at the heart of today’s case.
Across the breadth of policy issues, the Democratic candidates for mayor this year tend to share similar viewpoints. However, there are some notable exceptions, and at a debate sponsored by The New York Observer and 92Y, another one was revealed last night: their mayoral role models.
The first two candidates to speak, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, couldn’t choose just one mayor. Rather, the pair saw themselves as pulling from the best attributes from four and cited Ed Koch’s spirit, David Dinkins’s compassion, Rudy Giuliani’s toughness and Michael Bloomberg’s vision.
“I’ve been asked that question before and I’ve made sure that I haven’t alienated former mayors,” Mr. Thompson joked.
The Vallone Zone
“Queens is discriminated against on an almost daily basis,” Councilman Peter Vallone told Politicker last week at Dark Horse, a restaurant near his City Council office.
“Things happen to Queens that would never happen to another borough,” he said, sipping a Stella Artois and taking bites of blackened salmon. “They’d never rename the Brooklyn Bridge. They’d never rename the Manhattan Bridge. Queensboro Bridge is renamed, nobody says a peep. Nobody makes a peep other than me.”
Mr. Vallone, a candidate for borough president, complains that Queens “hasn’t had a bully in the pulpit,” and he would like to change that.
Councilman Donovan Richards will likely hire his one-time electoral rival Pesach Osina next week.
“It’s an interesting time, you know, sort of like Barack and Hillary,” Mr. Richards, the winner of an incredibly tight special election in southeast Queens last month, told Politicker on Friday. “We heal quick. You know, I think Pesach would certainly be a great addition to my team. He will help unite the community and he’ll be a great asset. Don’t be surprised if he’s hired next week.”
Earlier this evening, outspoken Councilman Peter Vallone officially launched his campaign for campaign for Queens Borough President. And, standing before an incredibly packed Greek restaurant in Astoria, both Mr. Vallone and his supporters made sure everyone was fully aware of the self-described conservative Democrat’s independent streak.
“He was able to stand up to the Speaker when she was trying to bully him,” said Norman Seabrook, the President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association who officially endorsed Mr. Vallone today. “Can you imagine what he would do as borough president when given the opportunity to step forward, not only for the people in this room, but this borough? He is truly a man indicative of being able to become one of the greatest of all time.”
One of the fiercest disputes over the decennial redistricting process raged on after the final versions of the new City Council district maps were released this week. Councilman Steve Levin insisted the process through which the districts were drawn was focused on substance while his potential rival, Lincoln Restler, repeatedly dismissed the new Council maps as rooted in political concerns.
“There was never a serious discussion,” Mr. Restler argued. “This was a political deal made by the Speaker and the local council member and it’s clear throughout the entire process that it’s nothing more than an incumbent protection program.”
Mr. Restler’s long-rumored bid to unseat Mr. Levin took a significant hit when the redistricting dust finally settled. In their final lines, the commission tasked with the decennial redrawing of City Council boundaries upheld an alteration to Mr. Levin’s 33rd District that added tracts of Hasidic Jewish voters likely to back Mr. Levin and removed parts of Brownstone Brooklyn favorable to Mr. Restler.