Shining bright lights on backroom deals in the NYC body politic.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Here's What I Know...

...About the Word Invisible

That according to Merriam-Webster, it is pronounced(")in-'vi-z&-b&l, functions as an adjective, has the following sequence of origin: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin invisibilis, from in- + visibilis visible, and means:

1 a : incapable by nature of being seen b : inaccessible to view : hidden
2 : imperceptible, inconspicuous
3 a : not appearing in published financial statements b : not reflected in statistics

So for example, in addition to his Council Campaign Committee, Lew Fidler uses an off-balance sheet account called Friends of Lew Fidler IV (an account he established for his District Leader race) to dole out dollars for his Council dates. I would call this virtually invisible (especially to the public) since one has to know to physically go down to the Board of Elections to view these transactions.

The discovery that Melinda Katz has invested hard dollars in the campaigns of Joel Rivera and Lew Fidler (as uncovered in this post) we could probably all agree is NOT nearly as invisible.

Having said that, we all know that the Speaker candidates are investing additional resources in the Council campaigns, like sending staff into the field, fundraising, facilitating new connections, etc. The super invisible, if you will.

So who's doing what where? I've got some leads, but need more...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Keepin' It Real

Our Editorials

Generally speaking you'll probably sense some cynical overtones emanating from our posts. We're not sure what else to say about this except that we firmly believe in a healthy dose of cynicism (hence the blog title and purpose, Backroom Deal Breaker).

But, we will make every effort to keep our comments towards the individual Speaker candidates as unbiased as possible. We promise to spread the wrath and praise evenly. We'll be keeping a wrath/praise scorecard which we will publish for you every so often to ensure fairness, balance and objectivity.

We're also open to any other suggestions you may have regarding this and other topics.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Gossip

Who's Dating Whom?

So it probably wouldn't surprise you to know that the mating ritual which worked well for Gifford (when he was at it alone) has now turned into a modern-day clusterfuck. Literally, your sitting Council Members and future Council Members are taking wads of cash from each of the Speaker candidates, forming an almost indecipherable web of interdependence. But if you read further, you'll find that at least one candidate seems to have added a shrewd new twist to the race.

Bill de Blasio

So Bill's gotten' busy. He's been courting the following folks who he's taken out on some dates (for which he paid btw).

Maria del Carmen Arroyo * Tony Avella * Maria Baez * Yvette Clarke * Inez Dickens * Helen Foster * Alan Gerson * Robert Jackson * Rosie Mendez * Michael Nelson * Annabel Palma * Diana Reyna * Larry Seabrook * Helen Sears * Kendall Stewart * David Yassky

Christine Quinn

Chris has been shaking her money-maker as well. She has been dating up a storm (for which she's paid her fair share).

Maria del Carmen Arroyo * Inez Dickens * Erik Martin Dilan * Helen Foster * Daniel Garodnick * James Gennaro * Letitia James * Jessica Lappin * Miguel Martinez * Rosie Mendez * Kendall Stewart * Al Vann * Thomas White

David Weprin

David's busy, busy, busy - at least as is visible to the naked eye. He's taken the following folks on some dates (for which he paid).

Maria del Carmen Arroyo * Gale Brewer * Yvette Clarke * Inez Dickens * Erik Martin Dilan * Helen Foster * Daniel Garodnick * James Gennaro * Vincent Gentile * Alan Gerson * Sara Gonzalez * Oliver Koppell * Jessica Lappin * Miguel Martinez * Michael McMahon * Rosie Mendez * Hiram Monserrate * Michael Nelson * Annabel Palma * Diana Reyna * James Sanders * Helen Sears * Kendall Stewart * Thomas White

Joel Rivera

Dating ... hmmmmm ... not so much! Joel, apparently, has more discriminating tastes. But he did pay for these folks:

James Gennaro * Sara Gonzalez * Diana Reyna * James Sanders

Leroy Comrie

A moderately busy dude. He's dated the following (and paid for them as well).

Yvette Clarke * Inez Dickens * Sara Gonzalez * Letitia James * Miguel Martinez * Rosie Mendez * Larry Seabrook * Helen Sears * Kendall Stewart

Lew Fidler

Fidler joins his Bronx brother, Rivera, in the selectivity club. But he has paid for a few dates.

Helen Foster * Hiram Monserrate * Al Vann

Melinda Katz

Now, Melinda has been very very busy. And if there's a bit of news to come out of this posting, it's that Melinda, Joel and Lew may very well be working together. Is there a Bronx/Queens/Brooklyn partnership in the works to make Seniora Katz the next Speaker?

She's dating like there's no tomorrow, and paying through the roof ... including for her dates with Joel Rivera and Lew Fidler.

Maria del Carmen Arroyo * Maria Baez * Yvette Clarke * Inez Dickens * Erik Martin Dilan * Lew Fidler * Helen Foster * Daniel Garodnick * James Gennaro * Vincent Gentile * Alan Gerson * Eric Gioia * Sara Gonzalez * Letitia James * Jessica Lappin * Melissa Mark-Viverito * Miguel Martinez * Michael McMahon * Rosie Mendez * Annabel Palma * Domenic Recchia * Diana Reyna * Joel Rivera * James Sanders * Larry Seabrook * Helen Sears * Kendall Stewart * Thomas White

* Newly elected members in italics

Meet the MacDaddy-Os

So Who are These Peeps?

In first name order, meet the eligible swingers who seek to speak on your behalf on the City Council. You can click on any of them to get their biographical information alongside their dashing mugs.

They follow:

Bill de Blasio
Christine Quinn
David Weprin
Joel Rivera
Leroy Comrie
Lew Fidler
Melinda Katz

If I forgot someone, I'm sure their offices will let me know. And just to make it easy, feel free to email me your news, tips, questions, etc. at anytime at

Friday, October 28, 2005

Why Blog Now?

Because the dating game is well underway...

Which means that your Council Member or future Council Member may already be in bed with the future Speaker. In fact, the 2006 candidates for Speaker have been workin' it for the past year to meet the men and women of their dreams. And as of late, they've been pimpin' themselves hard on behalf of their chosen candidates in Council campaigns all across the City.

* But what's important to note is that these are not exclusive relationships. In fact, your current and future Council Members are a polygamous bunch - lining up current and future favors from multiple Speaker candidates - in a gamble to maximize their potential as a member of the City Council. Over time, I'll delve more deeply into these relationships so that you can determine how best to influence the process.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What's the Big Idea?

To His Credit...

Gifford brought to life a rather ingenious model for how to run for Speaker. In anticipation of the Council's newly enacted term limits in 2001, Gifford created a Political Action Committee (PAC) creatively dubbed Council 2001. Think of the PAC as a sugardaddy of sorts - it invested time, resources and dollars in the campaigns of candidates Gifford dated exclusively in the 37 open races across the City.

The theory was that if and when an endorsed candidate won their election, the love connection would in turn produce a vote for Gifford in his bid for the Speakership. Though Gifford probably only swung about .500 in his relationships, it gave him enough of a base of support to close the larger backroom deals with the Bronx and Queens County party bosses. In 2002, the backing of bosses Roberto Ramirez (of the Bx) and Tom Manton (of Qns) helped seal the deal, bringing Gifford the requisite number of party-backed votes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Know This Dude?

Gifford Miller

You may (or may not) have heard of this gentleman's name. Gifford ran for Mayor during this year's Democratic Mayoral Primary. He lost, finishing in last place among the four top Democratic contenders.

When he wasn't running for Mayor, Gifford served as the Speaker of your New York City Council (a perch he still holds today). The Council Speaker is elected by the Council members (there are 51 of them citywide including Gifford), and is primarily responsible for obtaining a consensus on major issues (or at least so goes the explanation on the official Council website).

But there are a few things the Council website fails to mention about the Speaker's post: first, in addition to appointing the Chairs of all the Council's committees, the Speaker has access to a substantial stash of cash which s/he can easily dole out, without oversight, to Council Members (and their pet projects), non-governmental organizations and other entities across the City.

Second, the Speaker has the ability to not only move forward a real agenda using the Council's legislative, budgetary, land use and oversight powers, but to also use these powers to negotiate with - and sometimes leverage against - his Council colleagues, should they fall out of line.

Used well and wisely, the Speaker's position can and should be truly meaningful to us all. Used poorly and self-servingly, the position can easily become corrupt.

This job requires real talent and integrity. At the most basic level, the Speaker must be able to herd cats. But to affect positive, substantive change on a macro scale, the position requires a smart, hard working visionary. The Speaker must be able to inspire colleagues, advocates and the public into action and when necessary, put forward an agenda that is competitive with that of the Mayor's.

Sunday, October 02, 2005