The next speaker of the New York City Council is going to have far less power than Christine Quinn, if a large bloc of members have their way.
More than a dozen incumbent members and likely-to-be-elected Democratic nominees gathered on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to press for sweeping reforms to council rules that would reduce the speaker’s power by eliminating many of the mechanisms used to keep members in line.
Facing growing calls for his resignation, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, surrounded by an army of loyal supporters, apologized for his handling of the Vito Lopez allegations and announced a series of reforms to ensure, he said, that such mistakes will never be made again.
“I want New Yorkers to know I care deeply about this institution and its employees, that I remain dedicated to our core commission of protecting those who are most in need of a strong and caring government,” Mr. Silver told reporters at a press conference in Albany hours after Mr. Lopez officially resigned.
As the fallout from the recent slew of arrests of state legislators continues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he doesn’t want what he dubbed “Scandalmania” hijacking his agenda.
“What I’m trying mightily to do is not allow the Scandalmania–’cuz you know how the press is with scandals and that becomes all-consuming–I don’t want that to eclipse the session and I don’t want it to derail the session because we have a lot of good work to do out there for New Yorkers who just want their government to function,” said the governor during a radio appearance on “The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter.”
Two weeks ago, Democratic State Sen. Malcolm Smith was arrested and charged with trying to bribe his way into the Republican mayoral primary, prompting cries for reform from both ends of the political spectrum. Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out a series of proposals that he hopes will address many of these concerns.
“You’ve heard the expression pay to play, this is pay to run,” Mr. Cuomo said at a press conference announcing the measures. “The allegations that the minor parties basically, on occasion, have used campaign contributions to determine who gets the line and it’s almost that the line goes to the highest bidder.”
Law & Order
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
Professor Gerry Benjamin, an expert on the mechanisms of government at State University of New York at New Paltz, was asked by Citizens’ Committee for an Effective Constitution to take a look at Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature’s much-touted redistricting amendment and grade it point-by-point against what a truly independent amendment would look like.
Unsurprisingly, he found it wanting. He gave the amendment a ‘C-’ overall on an ‘A’ through ‘F’ scale.
Last Friday, City & State broke the news that a number of Democratic Clubs were uniting under a common banner, “Brooklyn Reform Coalition” to try and replace Assemblyman Vito Lopez as the head of the Kings County Democratic Party.
However, one of the groups mentioned in the coalition’s press release, the Bay Ridge Democrats, said they’re not part of the intra-Democratic Party feud and apparently there was a miscommunication involved.
“Bay Ridge Democrats were unaware of this coalition and I was surprised that we were mentioned as part of the story,” the club’s president, Justin Brannan, told The Politicker in a statement. ”My club has only one focus and that is to elect forward-thinking Democrats who truly represent our community.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has so heavily hedged on whether or not he will veto the Legislature’s redistricting proposal that even ardent experts in Kremlinology — the Soviet-era practice of grasping onto tidbits of information broadcasted from behind the Iron Curtain — would be soundly challenged.
Complicating the whole matter is the issue’s obscurity. Redistricting simply isn’t relevant to most New Yorkers. The average person on the street probably doesn’t know who most of his or her local representatives are, let alone where the boundaries lie. Yet editorial boards and good government groups believe the practice of letting legislators pick their voters, instead of the other way around, is at the core of many of the structural problems in Albany.
For that reason, Mr. Cuomo has vowed time and time again to veto the legislature’s maps and send the entire cartographic process to the courts, which the first five or so quotes from the slideshow will demonstrate. However, his rhetoric began hinting a move in another direction at the end of last year.