Mark-Viverito Says District Office Doubling as Command Post After Explosion

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the scene of the East Harlem Building Collapse. (Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the scene of the East Harlem Building Collapse. (Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was on her way to City Hall from her home in East Harlem this morning when she noticed Twitter erupting with early reports of a massive explosion that had rocked her district, leveling two buildings and leaving at least two dead and 22 injured, according to fire officials.

“I left my home at about 9:15, 9:20. I was on my way to City Hall when I started seeing some activity on Twitter from constituents that had heard the explosion or had been rocked by the explosion, some that live on 118th Street. So I turned around, came uptown,” Ms. Mark-Viverito told the Observer after an emergency briefing this afternoon a block from the site, which remains ablaze. Continue reading “Mark-Viverito Says District Office Doubling as Command Post After Explosion”

Melissa Mark-Viverito Elected Next City Council Speaker

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: Getty)
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: Getty)

East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has been elected the next Speaker of the City Council.

The 51 members of the Council cast their votes this afternoon, electing Ms. Mark-Viverito, a key ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the second-most-powerful elected official in the city in a unanimous, 51-0 vote. Continue reading “Melissa Mark-Viverito Elected Next City Council Speaker”

Christine Quinn Bids Emotional Farewell to City Hall After Difficult Year

christines send off Christine Quinn Bids Emotional Farewell to City Hall After Difficult Year
Christine Quinn leaves City Hall to applause. (Photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)

Council Speaker Christine Quinn ended her tenure leading the City Council yesterday with an emotional farewell to staff and colleagues, marking the end of what, by all accounts, was an extremely difficult year.

Just last spring, Ms. Quinn was widely considered the front-runner in the mayor’s race–the heir apparent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg–who seemed destined to preside over City Hall. Instead, Ms. Quinn finished a crushing third place in the Democratic primary after a brutal shellacking by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Continue reading “Christine Quinn Bids Emotional Farewell to City Hall After Difficult Year”

Council Members Move to Limit Next Speaker’s Power

Councilman Brad Lander speaking this afternoon. (Photo: William Alatriste New York City Council)
Councilman Brad Lander speaking this afternoon. (Photo: William Alatriste New York City Council)

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. Continue reading “Council Members Move to Limit Next Speaker’s Power”

The Shadow Campaign for City Council Speaker Quietly Heats Up

Christine Quinn delivers final State of the City address. (Photo: William Alatriste)
Christine Quinn delivers a State of the City address. (Photo: William Alatriste)

It’s the city’s second most powerful public office, but the race to become City Council speaker has more in common with a papal conclave than a mayoral election.

For only the third time in modern history, the Council is in the early throes of the byzantine process by which the 51 members from every neighborhood, ethnic background and political stripe must select a new leader. Despite those differences, the process will ultimately generate consensus (or near-consensus) by January, if the past is a guide.

The normally fraught procedure is even messier than usual because nearly half of the City Council will be new in 2014—meaning that aspiring speakers must woo not only current seat-holders, but those likely to be elected in November as well.

Continue reading “The Shadow Campaign for City Council Speaker Quietly Heats Up”

Candidate for Vito Lopez Seat Would Be ‘Hard-Pressed’ to Support Shelly Silver

Jason Otaño speaks at a New Kings Democrats forum.
Jason Otaño speaks at the New Kings Democrats forum.

A candidate running to fill disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s empty seat said Wednesday he would be “hard-pressed” to vote for Shelly Silver as his speaker because of Mr. Silver’s mishandling of the sexual harassment allegations that forced Mr. Lopez out.

Assembly Democrats have thus far been reluctant to discuss leadership changes, despite the fact that a majority of voters would like to see Mr. Silver go. But attorney Jason Otaño, the favorite of anti-Lopez activists, was blunt when posed the question at a forum last night.

Continue reading “Candidate for Vito Lopez Seat Would Be ‘Hard-Pressed’ to Support Shelly Silver”

The Book: Christine Quinn on Christine Quinn

Christine Quinn's memoir comes out next month. (Photo: Amazon.com)
Christine Quinn’s memoir comes out next month. (Photo: Amazon.com)

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s long-awaited memoir is set to come out next month–and Politicker got an early peek.

The 242-page hardcover–conveniently timed for released just as voters are starting to tune in to the mayor’s race–provides a deeply personal account of Ms. Quinn’s childhood growing up on Long Island, including coping with her mother’s losing battle with cancer, her insecurities, and her journey to becoming the city’s second-most powerful elected official, and potentially its first female and openly gay mayor.

Continue reading “The Book: Christine Quinn on Christine Quinn”