Exit Stage Right
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.
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.
Counting Votes/Taking Names
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.
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.
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.
on the attack
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.
Quinn on Quinn
In what may be the most direct and harsh attack to emerge from her campaign so far, Council Speaker Christine Quinn took her Democratic rival Bill Thompson to task today for his cross-partisan support from former Senator Al D’Amato.
“Al D’Amato isn’t just anti-woman,” an email from Ms. Quinn’s campaign declared to supporters, “he is anti-choice, anti-Medicare, and anti-civil rights. He also had the dubious honor of being known as the most investigated Senator in New York history.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn may be a tough broad, but she assured Monday night that she doesn’t think it’s necessary to be a “raving lunatic bitch all the time.”
Ms. Quinn, the early frontrunner in the race for mayor, was the keynote speaker at FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Powerful Women event at the Time Warner Center–a gathering of some most accomplished female leaders in the nation.
Earlier today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Health Commissioner Tom Farley unveiled new legislation to raise the city’s minimum age threshold for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 years. The move was applauded by smoking advocates, including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Lung Association of the Northeast and more, but not everyone was happy with the bill.
Notably, Jim Calvin, the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, argued that the vast majority of underage smokers obtain their cigarettes from older relatives and friends–not by over-the-counter purchases–rendering the legislation ineffective.
Although the New York Post ran a front-page story today reporting that Governor Andrew Cuomo is seriously considering a coup d’etat against influential Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, the governor himself is denying any such scheme exists.
“It is wholly up to the legislative bodies to select a leader,” Mr. Cuomo said on The Capitol Pressroom this morning. “I would never, even for a moment, try to influence that decision.”