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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tonight's Debate


So the reality is that tonight's event was all around shitty.

The "give-us-a-yes/no answer-or-die" forum didn't do justice to the questions or to the 1,000 people in attendance. And frankly, neither did a few of the candidates who truly seemed like they just didn't give a damn about being there. But hey, at least they showed.

Speaker candidates Katz & Comrie courageously pulled out in the last minute. We wonder why? But we invite them to explain their absences; Fidler had this to say yesterday about his.

There were no real policy differences expressed this evening. Tonight was just about the varying degrees of heat each of the candidates could weather in Bertha Lewis's packed kitchen.

Speaker candidate Quinn likes it hot, hot, hot - not a crowd favorite - but she seemed to conform the least to the raucous landlord hatin' crowd. Or was she just paying homage to her daddy? We will never know. But she was followed in heat-loving order by de Blasio, Weprin and Rivera.

What was perhaps most disturbing - and telling - about the evening was that it came off at points as Team Council vs. Team People. For example, candidates Quinn and de Blasio went to painstaking efforts in their opening remarks to excuse their colleagues' absences. We know and understand why, but just felt that they could have put on hold their brown-nosing for the evening, and feigned just a tad more their interest in talking to the peeps.

Regardless, the notable quote for the evening goes to Quinn as well: "None of us can guarantee the passage of any bill."

So, there you have it!


We'll Write More Later

But for the time being, suffice it to say that we're less than thrilled that Speaker candidates Comrie and Katz have decided to bail from tonight's debate in the last minute. And supposedly Rivera was on the verge as well, but we commend his 4:30PM change of heart.

Trust you us, we'll be writing more about this later.

Blog U Later

Peeps a Preppin'

Been a bit of a slow news day for us here at Backroomie. Our candidates are readying to rumble at tonight's event, and we've had our hands full with baby PO.

But stay tuned, b/c this bloggie will be hoppin' later this evening, assuming our unfettered access to the joint. Our cell phone service must also align with the stars and moon, but our intention is to go lively.

We're Expanding the Franchise!

A la 250 Broadway Productions

And you think the Speaker's race is worth watching?

Friends, you ain't seen nothin yet! Because up next, we've got the latest 250 Broadway production, Ta Ta 2 Term Limits.

And you're in luck. We've reserved front-row seats for you to closely watch as your elected officials - led by the next City Council Speaker - out-chutzpah themselves in an attempt to eradicate their own term limitations; which btw you, the boss, put in place not once, but twice!

Screw t-shirts! We're going to be selling popcorn of all sorts of flavors for this one.

For a sneak preview, simply surf over to our newly launched sister site,

We promise, it won't disappoint - though it might piss you off!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Speaker Candidate Fidler Responds

What's Fair is Fair

We present you CM Fidler's response to our latest posting about tomorrow night's debate.

Just a note from the missing Lew Fidler. Unfortunately, when originally invited to the Housing debate, I indicated a scheduling conflict. Unlike Citizens Union, which vetted the date well in advance, Housing did not. I did not cancel, and had my staff ask initially if the date could be otherwise. We expressed our regrets, offered our support for the general principles raised in the cover, noted that we have not taken oodles of cash from the real estate industry---or anyone else for that matter---and offered to attend other Speaker debates in the future. After all, I enjoyed the heck out of the first one----didn't you? Councilman Lew Fidler

Round Two

Fidler To No Show

We can't say we're liking the trend that is Speaker candidate Lew Fidler. First this, now this: tomorrow night's debate organizers say Fidler has been invited to participate, but declined.

The others will be there to answer questions and "make concrete policy commitments on key housing issues" in front of 1000 low-income tenants from across the 5 boroughs. Which we've gotta say, oughta be interesting, considering that some of our candidates are taking a nice chunk of change from real estate developers. See any of the following.

The details:

Wednesday, November 30th
Washington Irving HS (Irving Place, between 16th and 17th Streets)
6:30 - 8:30PM
Click here for more info!

The Quinning of Lopez?

Vito Committing Committee Commitments

Last week's Crain's Insider reported that Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez might be aiming squarely for the top committee chairmanships in lieu of the Speakership post. Such a deal may not bode well for either Brooklyn Speaker candidates, Bill de Blasio or Lew Fidler; and could ultimately prove most beneficial to Manhattanite Speaker wanna-be Christine Quinn.

The Insider also reported that Council Members-elect Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, Jessica Lappin and Rosie Mendez have already pledged their allegiances to Quinn as well.

Tis true? We shall see...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Term Limits' Sacrificial Lamb

A Brave, But Not So Brainy Brewer

Ok. We admit it - we just don't get it. For the life of us, we cannot understand why any semi-intelligent public official would go down the path that Upper West Side Council Member Gale Brewer has chosen to travel in the raging term limits debate.

Of all the ways to end or alter term limits - via referendum, charter revision commission, etc. - Council Member Brewer is unquestionably leaning towards the interest-conflicted, legislative fiat. And for this brazen attempt to undo the twice-affirmed will of the people, Brewer continues to get pummeled by the press, public and every other living, breathing creature on this planet.

And tonight's forum on term limits at the LGBT Center proved no exception. At one point in the discussion even the moderator, NY1's Davidson Goldin, took a jab at the Councilwoman asking whether she thought it would be appropriate for the Council to undo the vote (of the people) that put her into office.

During the evening, Brewer goes as far as admitting that she's not so good at politics, but COOOOMMMMME ON! What gives?

Has the Council Member struck a deal of which we're completely unaware (let's say with her Speaker candidate of choice, Bill de Blasio)? For her sake, at this point, we certainly do hope so.

Regardless, we do commend Gale for her display of courage in the line of fire. Next time, though, we'd suggest she bring along any of her savvy Speaker wanna-be colleagues. She's sitting on their grenades and from the looks of it, has no back-up in sight.

Modus Referendus?

Gale Blasio, What Say You?

We anxiously await tonight's forum where we expect Speaker candidate Bill de Blasio's rumored front woman Council Member Gale Brewer to defend her plans to go against the will of the twice-term-limiting voters.

Good night, and good luck!

7PM, LGBT Center

Intelligent Life?

NY Mag Asks: Is this Naked Vote-Buying?

Geoffrey Gray asks the question - about the practice where Speaker candidates dole out oodles of ducket$ to their colleagues - in this week's New York Magazine.

And here's how one oft-quoted consultant and one Speaker candidate answered:

“The whole idea here is to make as many friends as possible,” says political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “You give to your friends in June when they need it and hope they remember you in January when you need it.”

“It’s not quid pro quo,” says [David] Weprin. “No councilman would want to sell their speaker vote to the highest bidder. If they did, it’s not a vote you would want anyway.”

Sunday, November 27, 2005

City Gall Redux

DN Spanks Speaker Wanna-bes

Michael Goodwin of the Daily News - very unhappy with our sassy seven.

Here's what he's got to say about their political posturing:

Most couch their objections as "philosophical," but it's really a power play: They've got the power and want to keep playing. It's no small irony that the term limits law that opened the door for them is the same law they now want to scrap.

Friday, November 25, 2005


They Did It Again

Just when you thought that the borough of Brooklyn could become a real player in this year's Speakership race, it appears that all hell could break loose all over again. The New York Post reports today that Vito, Brooklyn Country Chair, may not have been so neat-o about filling out his voter registration forms. Uh Oh!

Where, may we ask, are Angel Rodriguez, Clarence Norman, et al when you need them?


And while we're on the subject of malingering party bosses, the Daily News cracks the whip on Queens County Chair, Tom Manton, for his not-so-judicial proceedings.

Guys, guys, guys ... have you forgotten that the race for Speaker is entirely in your hands? Don't ruin it for the rest of us, please!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Body Count

Here's What We Think We Know

Though we know full well that we have no clue how much we actually know.

1. That Speaker candidate Leroy Comrie is in possession of at least 4 solid votes.

2. That the "double-digits" Speaker candidate Bill de Blasio recently referred to in this New York Sun piece are 1 and 5 ... meaning, 15 secure, can't-touch-these votes.

3. That Vito Lopez, newly minted Brooklyn County Chair, will be able to deliver at least 9 unified votes, 1 of which btw will come from outside the borough of Brooklyn.

4. That Tom Manton, the not-so-newly-minted Queens County Chair, will deliver fewer votes than most believe him capable, topping off at 10.

5. That Speaker candidate Christine Quinn has no more than 11 votes firmly in the bank, and a whole bunch of other votes not so firmly in the bank.

6. That Jose Rivera, Bronx County Chair, has at least 5 solid votes that he can deliver.

7. That Clarence Norman, former Brooklyn County Chair now undergoing criminal prosecution, will not be delivering any votes this year.

8. That Speaker candidate Lew Fidler is eagerly waiting for the ball to drop on someone, somewhere.

9. That Katz, Weprin and Rivera probably have a couple of soft votes lined-up each.

10. And that from here on out, Katz will be de-Speakerizing herself in exchange for a front row seat to the Queens Borough Presidency.

Stay tuned! More to come. But in the mean time, Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Clusterfuck Redux!

We've Gotta Hand it to Barrett

This week The Village Voice laments the future of the City's supposedly progressive campaign finance system, citing the Speaker's race as the straw that will break the CFB's back.

Wayne Barrett single-handedly rips Speaker candidate Bill de Blasio a new one, deriding him as "a poster boy for conflict of interest" for pushing through the Council a bill that "essentially exempts unions from the same affiliation standards that the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) has long applied to all institutional donors, including corporations and partnerships."

Barrett goes on to wade through the maze of tentacles that is Operation Bill for Speaker. The maze spans some of the city's largest and most politically-connected unions - SEIU Local 1199, HERE and 32BJ - as well as de Blasio's family and staff.

De Blasio and his wife were on SEIU's payroll when he first ran for Council; Peter Colavito, de Blasio's former Chief of Staff, now reigns supreme as 32BJ's Political Director; John Wilhelm, de Blasio's cousin, is the President of HERE; Wilhelm's son worked in de Blasio's first council campaign ... you get the drift?

And interestingly, de Blasio acknowledges that he "compared notes throughout the primary period" this year with union leaders "about the choices I had made" in councilmanic elections this year, indicating that he and his labor allies endorsed a similar group of candidates.

And here's a shocker ... apparently, when money talk$, legislators walk ... 1199, 32BJ and all other SEIU locals have combined to contribute $18,575 to de Blasio campaigns since 2001.

Notable Quotable

Evan Stavisky (of The Parkside Group)

Had this to say in this recent Newsday piece by City Hall Bureau Chief Dan Janison:

"The road to the speakership clearly goes through Queens. [Chairman] Tom Manton always walks with his members and engages - in his phrase - in constructive malingering."

"He's under no pressure to endorse a candidate early, and under no pressure to act before it's necessary," Stavisky said. "He'll probably weigh in late in the game."

Ready, Get Set...

For Worse

In today's New York Post, former East Side City Council Member, Charles Millard, goes ballistic about what came out of the mouths of our oh-so-savvy-seven during last week's debate.

He gives de Blasio, Katz and Weprin a serious beat-down, while Fidler manages to escape without too much harm. But what we found most interesting about the piece - which might shed a bit more light for the likes of EnWhySeaWonk & Co. - was Millard's assertion that:

"The whole evening would have been laughable if it were not so serious. Whoever is speaker dominates the City Council, which passes a huge budget every year and has increasingly found and flexed muscles on issues from zoning for big-box stores to the immigration status of street vendors. And it has never failed to override a mayoral veto when called upon by the speaker to do so. "

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Newsless Tuesday

Though the NY Press Reports...

...that some ruminating, undercover elected official has the Speakership scenarios all worked out.

We couldn't do them justice if we tried. So Azi, over to you!

What's the Obsession?

The Question's Out There

Yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks, we came across a blogger wondering why we give a damn that the race for Speaker is happening behind closed doors; and seemingly, calling for us to leave the process alone.

To be exact, blogger EnWhySeaWonk had this to say on The Politicker:

"What is the huge deal with the Speaker race being behind the scenes? The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative is chosen by the Reps, and he's second in line for the Presidency. The Speaker isn't in the line of succession at all for the Mayor. Well, I guess we need to obsess about something."

Aye wonkster! Call us idealistic, call us old-fashioned - but we'd prefer not to blindly outsource the selection of the city's second most powerful elective office to the firm of Manton, Lopez and Rivera. While all are undoubtedly nice guys, we did not elect them - nor their agendas - to represent us on the City Council. And the reality that many of our elected officials are answering to them first - as opposed to us (the public) - is a bit discouraging, to say the least.

The reality is that virtually no one (except insiders and their loved ones) trusts nor gives a hoot anymore about this entrenched, disconnected establishment of ours. You need only look back to turnout stats for the most recent elections and Primaries for proof - if you have any lingering doubts.

And as an aside we recommend that EnWhySeaWonk review section 28, subsection C of the City Charter - about the role the Council can play in the line of succession. The body is effectively third in line.

But even if it wasn't, using the Feds' closed-door process to justify our own seems flawed in and of itself. Why don't we all just give up on our democracy completely?

The Results Are In

With 100% of Precincts Reporting

As of midnight tonight, we have a clear winner in the slogan competition. Though ... surprise, surprise ... the winning slogan was submitted anonymously as well (with a note agreeing to forfeit the prize $).

Thank you to those of you who rocked the vote!

The results follow:

1. NYC Council Speaker's Race: Where Smoke and Mirrors Unite (35%)

2. What Happens at the Council, Stays at the Council (23%)

2. Clearing Away the Smoke from City Hall's Backrooms (23%)

3. Insiders Outed (15%)

4. Get Your Lulus Worth (4%)

We expect to have the t-shirts ready for you within a week or so.

All we're missing now is the popcorn.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Why Me?

Or Rather, Them?

We're following a reader's suggestion to review what they thought was the most important question asked of the candidates during last week's debate. Why you?

We chose the lines which we think best describe the essence of the candidates' answers.

Lew Fidler: I am not running for speaker of the council because I want to be something else someday. I think that that is important that my colleagues on the council understand. That will truly allow me to empower them. The ideas of 51 members; not the ideas of one. That can be cultivated, grown, and brought together so that we can act effectively to be a counterbalance to an administration that the charter already puts most of the power in.

Joel Rivera: The reason I believe I would be a great speaker for the 51-member body is because I understand the need for access. I know that when Councilmember Robert Jackson, or Simcha Felder, or the council members who are here tonight come to the speaker’s office and say we need to talk about policy, we need to talk about budget priorities when it comes to housing, healthcare, education or economic development, my door is going to be open.

Melinda Katz: I want to make sure that the city gives credibility and confidence to the businesses all over the entire United States, so that they come here, so they want to build here, so they want to bring their employees here, and invest in our future.

Leroy Comrie: I can tell you that after four years as speaker of the City Council I want to make sure that I leave a legacy that my children can be proud of. That my mother, God willing, will still be here and be proud of. That everyone who comes to this city can be proud of.

Christine Quinn: I am running for speaker to take that experience [working collaboratively at the Council] and inclusive leadership style forward to help work with my colleagues to solve more of the problems that loom in this city.

David Weprin: In addition to my City Council experience, I will use my background as an attorney, my 15 plus years as a investment banker in municipal finance, and my previous banking department experience as a deputy in the department to effectively work with Wall Street and the investment community and fighting for increased federal and state aid that we are entitled to.

Bill de Blasio: I think we have to build more of a sense of unity and common purpose among all of the council members. I think I have to work, if I were to become speaker, to help each other succeed in the work we do in our neighborhoods. And I think that in everything that we do, we have to be clear that we have to balance the power of the council more strongly with the power of the mayor.

The Times's Joyce Purnick

Less Than Enthused With de Blasio Et Al

November 21, 2005

Metro Matters

Measures Needing More Thought


IF campaign-weary New Yorkers were paying much attention to the latest political shenanigans, the City Council might want to take a vacation - a pause to reflect - just about now.

First, on Wednesday, the Council approved a measure that could undermine the city's campaign finance system. A day later, the seven candidates for speaker complained that the Council suffered from a power imbalance with the mayor and talked about changing the term limits law (which can be modified legislatively or through referendum) by voting themselves a four-year extension: to three terms from two. Given the Council's week, New Yorkers might prefer to leave the city's checks and balances unbalanced.

Term limits have been unpopular with the Council since the voters approved them 12 years ago in a referendum initiated and backed by a wealthy Republican, Ronald S. Lauder. In 1996, the public rejected an effort to lengthen the terms by four years in another referendum that attracted Mr. Lauder's resources.

Read further by clicking here!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Good Bathroom Read

If Ever There Was One

Voila ... the transcripts from the debate. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Daily News

Not So Impressed

It appears that the performances of our savvy-seven during this last Thursday's debate left the edit heads at the Daily News just a little bit galled.

Ummmm ... you make the call.

Separately, the Amsterdam News impresses upon us the importance of Council Member Leroy Comrie's quest for the Speaker's post. And in the article, Council Member Charles Barron had this to add:

Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn agrees that Comrie is a good fit for the job but believes that race should be a definite factor in determining the next speaker. The outspoken Democrat said that a white male should not be allowed to emerge as speaker because there are already too many white candidates who hold powerful city government posts.

"This is ridiculous. There needs to be a balance in city hall,"” he said.

Barron said that he believes other members of the council secretly feel the same way he does but are not bold enough to make it public.

"I think my colleagues know it'’s time to have a person of color but lack the fortitude to say so," he said. The councilman said another reason a minority is needed in the post is to see to it that dollars are evenly distributed to underserved regions of the city.

Barron did not overlook contender Councilman Joel Rivera, a Hispanic who hails from the Bronx. Barron thinks that Comrie is a leading candidate because he has been mentioned most and has seniority and has spent more time in city government.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Exit Polls

What are You Trying to Say?

Soon after last night's debate, and throughout the day today, the number of voters polling in favor of choice #1 (below) for the t-shirt slogan/design competition skyrocketed.

Now we know that we're not exactly dealing with a statistically significant sample here, but even within our small universe of voters a jump from 3 to 10 cannot be discounted - can it?

Here are your choices again. If you haven't expressed your opinion, please do so. The vote will continue throughout the weekend, ending on Sunday night. One blogger, one vote.

1. NYC Council Speaker's Race: Where Smoke and Mirrors Unite

2. Printed on a t-shirt turned inside out: INSIDERS OUTED
(With printed along a seam)

3. Get Your Lulus Worth

4. What Happens at the Council, Stays at the Council

5. Clearing Away the Smoke from City Hall's Backrooms

*** On second thought, we're going to heed the advice of 'anonymous,' and extend voting until midnight Monday, November 21, 2005.

Term Limits

Are a Changin'...

... if your next Speaker has it their way. Referendum to the voters or not, doesn't really seem to matter.

Frank Lombardi of the Daily News gives the alteration of term limits a 6.5 out of 7 chance (93%) of happenin'. Per our post below, we give it the full on 100%.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Long Awaited Debate

Honestly, Not Worth the Hassle

In hindsight, our sources say they wouldn't have recommended sneaking into Baruch by way of some friendly co-eds (though that's a whole other story).

But really ... a rather lame evening.

Here's a list of 10 things we learned:

1. That there's a lot of public interest in this not so public process (at least more than CU, Baruch and NYLCV ever expected).

2. That seven out of seven Speaker candidates recommend overturning term limits.

3. That seven out of seven Speaker candidates recommend slaughtering the Campaign Finance Board.

4. That six out of seven Speaker candidates share a brain - all but a lone Fidler see the commuter tax as a viable option to fight the city's budget deficits.

5. That de Blasio actually wants to push through a technical correction to the term limits law, changing it to three 4-year terms, instead of two - technically.

6. That Quinn not so surprisingly bitch-slapped her good friend Gifford for being not so frank about his franking privileges.

7. That there's no question that Katz wants to do away with term limits. Absolutely none!

8. That Comrie fell in line with expectations - whatever yours may have been.

9. That Rivera is young, but definitely interested in the job.

10. That Weprin was frustratingly coy, giving answers seemingly coded to appeal more to County leaders than to the public at large.

And let's add one more for kicks (we learned this one later in the evening):

11. That there's much disagreement over who came out on top.

At Capacity

Reporting Live

The debate tonight is filled to capacity, so much so that the lobby is littered with over 100 would-be guests who RSVP'd, but are being denied entrance - including some of the media, btw. Daily News and Newsday reporters were seen slummin' it down there.

Way to go, CU & Co. !

Was anyone keeping tabs on the RSVP list and comparing it to the room's capacity? Again, can't have a public forum without the public.

Tonight's Debate

Just a Reminder

That tonight the seven lovely candidates for the Speaker's post will be making a once-in-their-candidacy appearance to defend their quest for the Speakership.

A few other questions have surfaced since we last communicated. We've also been collecting all of the targeted questions so that we could unload them at once. Enjoy!

1. To Council Member Katz: Why have you contributed funds to your competitor's coffers?

2. To Council Member de Blasio: Why did you not heed the requests of good-government groups, the Times and Daily News to hold-off on pushing the single-source legislation?

3. To Council Member Comrie: As Majority Whip, you seem to have always fallen in line with leadership. Have you ever broken rank?

4. To Council Member Quinn: You are close to Speaker Miller and sit on the Council's internal sexual harassment and discrimination prevention committee. How would you have handled the cases against Jennings, Ford and Gentile differently?

5. To Council Member Weprin: What is your justification for accepting stipends above and beyond your base pay (i.e., the so-called "lulus")?

6. To Council Member Fidler: Do you believe that the public should have input into the Speaker selection process?

7. To Council Member Rivera: If not you, which of your competitors do you think would make the best Speaker?

8. And to everyone. Have you accepted any matching funds that you subsequently redistributed to other political campaign committees?

It's Time to Vote

And the Winner Is?

Here are your choices for the slogan/design competition. The only guideline for entrants was that they come up with something that's approachable and accessible to political outsiders.

Let us know what you think by voting in the sidebar.

1. NYC Council Speaker's Race: Where Smoke and Mirrors Unite

2. Printed on a t-shirt turned inside out: INSIDERS OUTED
(With printed along a seam)

3. Get Your Lulus Worth

4. What Happens at the Council, Stays at the Council

5. Clearing Away the Smoke from City Hall's Backrooms

Weprin & Sikh Coalition Announce Anti-Discrimination Bill

On the Move

Today at 12:30 p.m.

Speaker candidate David Weprin and the Sikh Coalition discuss Uniform Anti-Discrimination bill

City Hall steps

--Contact: Rebecca Shaffer, 212-788-6984; Amardeep Singh, 917-628-0091.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Say What?

You Oughta Know

Here's what the public told us that they want to learn from tomorrow's public forum - where the seven candidates for Speaker will debate.

We can only encourage the goo-goos to pilfer these questions, and to put them to the candidates.

As to whether the questions get posed in the lightning round or otherwise, we really don't care!

1. Would you move to overturn term limits without putting a referendum to the voters?

2. Would you move to overhaul the Campaign Finance Board? And if so, how?

3. What else could each of you be doing right now to get the public more involved in the Speaker selection process?

4. Why should you represent the residents of the City as the next Council Speaker?

5. How would each of you have handled differently the Jennings sexual harassment case at the Council (or the Ford and Gentile cases, for that matter)?

6. Would you keep most of the Council's senior staff (Finance, Land Use, etc.) in place, or bring in new people?

7. Would you keep the current Chief of Staff, Charles Meara, in his position?

8. How would your tenure differ from that of Speaker Miller's?

9. What is your plan to tackle the gaping budget deficits the City faces?

10. Are you for or against the commuter tax?

11. Will you commit to making the City's entire fleet of taxis and car services wheelchair-accessible?

12. Would you keep the smoking ban in place?

13. As final arbiters of land use matters in the city, do you think it is appropriate for you to accept contributions from real estate developers?

14. What should be done with Manhattan's West Side?

15. What's missing in NYC Democratic politics?

Have more questions you'd like to have asked of the candidates? Put 'em in the comments section or email them to us confidentially at, and we'll add them to this list until tomorrow afternoon.

Robert Dryfoos

Council Member Treasonnaire?

Ohhhh ... you've gotta love NYC politics. Because if nothing else, it's certainly long on memory.

Just the other day we were reminded that no blog analyzing the Speaker's race would be complete without recounting the Dryfoos affair. But here's the scoop: we weren't there.

However, others were. And what we managed to learn from them - our resident historians - and from the history books is that in politics, a vote is not a vote until it's a vote. Hence the excitement that surrounds the jockeying for Speaker.

And to nail this point home, here's an excerpt of what Douglas Kellner, Manhattan Borough Commissioner at the Board of Elections, recently had to say:

I am one of those who believes that New York's own l'Affaire Dryfoos was the lowest act of political treachery that I ever observed, —and that's saying a great deal.

In 1986, in my capacity as the Manhattan Democratic Party Law Chair, I was responsible for representing the Manhattan council members in arranging the coalition with the Brooklyn caucus, represented by Ken Fisher, who was then Brooklyn Law Chair. The Manhattan caucus was quite diligent about securing agreement to the details of their reform agenda, as well as amendments to the Council Rules, without running afoul of the technical requirements of the New York Public Officers Law that makes it illegal for an elected official to promise to vote for one matter in return for a promise by a colleague to vote a particular way on another matter. (Yes, vote trading is illegal in New York!)

I participated in many long meetings that lasted well past midnight where the members of the Manhattan delegation scoped out a quite thorough list of the reforms they insisted that would have to be adopted in return for their support of Brooklyn's Sam Horwitz for Vice Chair and Majority Leader, the old title before it was changed to the more potent "speaker" in 1989. Dryfoos participated fully in these meetings, often goading the junior members to demand more significant committee chairmanships, but always feigning complete commitment to package. It turned out that Stanley Friedmain's telephone logs, which became public when they were introduced as evidence at his corruption trial, revealed that Dryfoos was secretly telephoning him immediately at the conclusion of each of these meetings, sometimes at 2 and 3 a.m.

Click here to read further!

Pretty Please

Don't Go There, Bill (Pun Intended)

Today, the edit heads at the Daily News joined the chorus of good government groups, the Campaign Finance Board and The New York Times editorial board in calling on Speaker candidate Bill de Blasio to overcome his "destructive notions," and further aerate his union contributions bill slated for passage at today's Stated Council Meeting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Don't Chuck Chuck

Attention Future Speaker

Consider this...

How much good - could a good Chuck do - if a good Chuck could do more good?

At least that's the question Miller flack, Charles Meara, seems to be asking.

Sources say that Chuck is looking to keep his Chief of Staff post once a new Speaker comes on board.

Whether or not any of the candidates for the job would actually have him, well, that's a whole other saga of which we remain utterly clueless at this point. But, seems to us like a good question for Thursday's debate, given that the position comes with much clout behind-the-scenes - and could, for better or worse, signal a return to Miller times.

Living La Vida Lopez

Brooklyn in Da House

The Crain's Insider reports today that at least half of the Brooklyn City Council delegation will back the Speaker candidate endorsed by the new party leader, Vito Lopez. Additionally, Lopez has apparently been cross-pollinating with disaffected Council Members from other boroughs - who are less than thrilled with their own party leaders.

Lopez's office claims that he has yet to make any firm decisions on which candidate to back.


In Like Quinn?

New York Mag

In this week's Intelligencer, Greg Sargent features this Q&A with speaker candidate Christine Quinn. Here's a taste:

Your pal Miller didn’t have the easiest time of it as speaker. What have you learned from him?

I learned that seeking the input of all members is the best way to build consensus. And I may focus a bit more on public health and affordable housing than Gifford did.

Membership in the Land Use Committee

Definitely Has Its Privileges

Don't believe us? Just ask Speaker candidate Melinda Katz, the Chair of the committee. From our preliminary analysis of her financial filings, she raked in over $170,000 from big NYC real estate during the 2005 election cycle - a staggering 26% of the pot.

Her list of contributors reads like a who's who of luxury NYC real estate, from the Rudins and
Elghanayans to the Walentas, Dursts and Brodskys.

And as for her grassrootsiness, well, the pastures are clearly greener on the developers' side. Of the 969 contributions Katz received (which, btw, averaged $688 a pop) only 81 of them were $100 or less - an abysmal 8%.

Additionally, Katz took in $57,000-plus from lobbyists and PACs combined (9%), and over $48,000 from organized labor (7%).

But the latter inflows pale in comparison to her coziness with real estate, which we must admit, leaves us wondering about the state of affordable housing in this city.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Public Forum?

Or Just More Goo-goo Gah-gah?

A very good thing is supposed to happen this Thursday evening. The seven Speaker candidates are to unite in a 2-hour debate on the issues of the day ... in public, no less. And for that, we commend them all!

But here at the Backroom Deal Breaker, we want to make sure that you too can have your say. For what is a public forum without a public?

When asked if our fellow Backroomies could submit questions to the upcoming debate, we got a big fat NO along with a good-idea-though pat on the back. We also got a dose of an unfortunate we-know-best reality. Here's what a Citizens Union rep for the so-called public forum had to say:

As for questions, we may open the floor to questions from the audience. As you can imagine with 7 candidates time is tight and we want to make sure we touch on a variety of themes.

I love the idea of making the connection to the internet community and having them submit questions. This is something we will look into for future events.

So here's our solution:

First, we invite Backroomies to either post any questions you'd like to have asked in the comments section, or email them confidentially to We'll then make sure they get in front of the appropriate eyeballs.

Second, we encourage Citizens Union (and the host of other goo-goos associated with this event) as well as the oft-quoted moderator, Professor Doug Muzzio, to rethink the public's involvement in this public forum. This is your opportunity - as good government groups - to practice what you preach by showcasing what the words public involvement really mean.

What Up, Biatch?

Speaking in Her Own Words

"I am very clear that a part of my personality is what some people might call a bitch. And I am very comfortable with that. I accept it both as a personality asset and as a personality defect. And I think as I´ve gotten more mature -– $500,000 worth of therapy later - I know when to be a bitch and I know when not to be a bitch. I make a conscious decision about when I´m gonna, you know, open up the bitch tap and let the water run. It can be really effective when I need it to. I´ve gotten through to people who are far more important than me by being, you know, a real bitch to their staff on the telephone."

- Speaker candidate Christine Quinn, New York Observer, June 14, 1999

Open Call Extended - 1 More Week

Got Talent?

We've received some great submissions already, but would like to get a few more.

Come up with the winning slogan for our long-sleeve t-shirt design contest, and you can win $50. Come up with a slogan/design combination and you can win $75.

We're looking for a slogan and/or slogan/design combination that will not only capture the spirit of, but will also make the race for Speaker appealing and approachable to outsiders (as in, not political insiders).

Open call for submissions ends this Thursday (November 17th). We will then publish the entries, and put them to a public vote.

Please send all submissions to

Specs: Images should be 200-300 dpi, 1200 x 1200 pixels, and up to 7" by 7"

Friday, November 11, 2005

In All Fairness

Here's Where We Stand

As we promised you earlier, here's our first Praise/Wrath Scorecard. It simply shows how many times we have editorialized about a Speaker candidate positively, negatively or with neutrality.

Our goal is to provide you with coverage of each of the Speaker candidates that is as balanced as possible. And given our anonymity we also wanted to rule out perceptions of bias and agenda-ism.

Our only agenda is to clear away the smoke and mirrors so that you, the tax-paying public, can actually see what's happening (or not) with your government.

Interpret the scorecard at your own peril. A couple of things, though, that you should note: first, is that we have only followed the money trails for Quinn and de Blasio thus far. Rest assured that each of the other candidates will get their turn. Secondly, that when we had information for only some of the candidates (for example, their positions on term limits and lulus), we offered the others opportunities for equal billing. None of them have yet to take us up on these offers.

Are They Gettin' Ready.... Ruuuuuummmmmmble?

Frank Lombardi reports this morning in the Daily News that newly minted Brooklyn County Chair Vito Lopez and not-so-newly-minted Queens County Chair Thomas Manton plan to sit down soon to chat about the Speaker's race.

Nuttin' is certain, the article says, but if a deal were to be struck between the two boroughs....apparently all hell could break loose.

Worry not. We'll be keeping a close eye on this for you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Luvin' the Lulus, Part Deux

On The Record

Our recent posting about Council Members' unquenchable love of lulus seemed to generate much buzz on this blog and beyond. So we thought it would make sense to dig a bit deeper to give you a better perspective of where your candidates for Speaker fall on the matter (the matter being the usage of your tax dollars).

Again, we turned to a recent candidate questionnaire administered by Citizens Union. And here's what some of the playas had to say in response to the following question:

Do you support eliminating stipends for committee chairs and leadership positions and raising the base pay to a higher level that is equal among all City Council Members?

Bill de Blasio: No. The work involved in chairing a committee or working in a leadership position merits higher pay.

Christine Quinn: No. Committee Chairs have a great level of responsibility to ensure that their Committee is effectively working to further the interests of all New Yorkers. This includes managing Committee staff, meeting with a large number of citizen groups and advocates, and having an ongoing dialogue with Commissioners and other government officials. Therefore, I believe that Chairs should receive a stipend for their work, much in the same way that employees in any organization who have a greater level of responsibility and workload receive a higher pay. However, since every committee is charged with important responsibilities that affect the lives of millions of New Yorkers, I believe that every chair should receive the same level of compensation.

David Weprin: No, but I do support completely overhauling the current allocation formula. I believe that an internal policy committee should be established to determine which committees require more work and deserve greater compensation and this should occur before members receive their committee assignments.

As always, we invite the other Speaker candidates, for whom we have no record on this matter, to submit their responses to the same question to You deserve and will receive equal billing.

All Eyes...

... On the Speaker's Race

Now that the Mayoral race is over, attention is quickly shifting to the race to replace current, term-limited Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

The Times' Winnie Hu leads off with this introductory piece, and Frank Lombardi of the Daily News has this to say.

And we offer you this notable quote from the Times:

"It should be about policies, principles and budget priorities, but that's the last thing on the list," said Councilman Charles Barron, of Brooklyn. "It's really about what can I get from the speaker, personally."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


To the Peanut Gallery

A bit of a diversion here. More often than not, you have more interesting things to say than we do. And so, without further ado ...

Here's to your:

1. Mathematical Brilliance. Responding to our recent posting on lulus, one anonymous blogger had this to say:

For one there are too many committees, for two its easy to see how a council member could become beholden to a Speaker if he/she controls whether or not they will receive a $10-20K/year tax-payer subsidized bonus.

Let's see there, a quick visit to the City Council website reveals that there are 43 standing committees for 51 members. That's more than twice the number in the U.S. House of Representative with 435 members. So 43 x $13,000 (an guestimated average lulu) = $559,000. The city spends more than half a million dollars every single year on these perks! For what? Does committee work not fall under the roles and responsibilities of a council member???

The people of this city, and our elected representatives, should campaign to more efficiently organize the committees into 16 or 17 bodies and we should call for the end of lulu's (or at least standardize them at an equitable level of say $2 or 3,000.

2. Cranky Independence. In response to The Politicker's recent shoutout to our Term Limits posting, oft-Politickering Cranky Independent made this comment:

Has anyone asked the members of the City Council if they actually believe in democracy? How about the state legislature? How about the editorial board of the New York Times? Until they say "yes," don't assume they are hypocrites. Our politicians believe in democracy the way the leaders of some of our corporations believe in competitive free markets.

3. Excuse Making. In response to our posting on Speaker candidate Lew Fidler's refusal to dance with those who brung him, Bored at Work had these words of support:

Do voters elect the Speaker of the US House or the US Senate Majority leader? No, their colleagues in the majority party do so. Same in NYC for Speaker. All of a sudden this is news?

4. Knowing Her Daddy. Lastly, in response to our discovering that Speaker candidate Christine Quinn takes a quarter of her contributions from big NYC real estate, an anonymous blogger made this observation:

The people of this city need to realize just how much of a slave even the most "harmless" politicians have become to special interest.

Stay tuned! More to come...



So it seems that all the Speaker candidates chose wisely. The money invested, the staff doled out, the phone calls made and more.

Congratulations, all of your candidates won!

Now what? Who's ahead? Who's behind? Was it all for naught?

We must admit, it's not any clearer to us.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The East Coast

...Of Manhattan

Is churnin' and burnin' with Speaker candidates on this oh-so-important Election Day. Jessica and Dan are playing host to Speaker candidates Quinn, de Blasio, Katz and Weprin.

Our only question: if both Jess and Dan win, which of these Speaker candidates (if any) stand to benefit? The easy, more surfacey answer appears to be Quinn ... but scratch it a bit, and you might see something else. For example, de Blasio has one of his staffers running Dan's GOTV operation (the same person de Blasio lent Dan during the September Primary).

What gives?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Weprin's Whippin' Up Wages

Answers to Council Staff?

So continuing on the theme of wages, we look again to The Crain's Insider, which last Thursday reported that Speaker candidate David Weprin pushed a bill through the Council that will raise the salaries of the surrogate court's public administrators by $32,000 to $123,000 a year.

Rumors were swirling that Weprin did this to curry favor with Democratic county leaders in order to gain their support for his candidacy (since the Surrogate is the last of the patronage mills). But when asked, Weprin said the salary increase was unrelated to his Speakership quest, and instead offered that the bill was recommended to him by Council staff, not county leaders.

Delusionally, Weprin appears to be under the impression that he works for Council staff; not for you, you tax-paying sugardaddies. Sorry suckas!

And btw, every single candidate for Speaker voted in favor of this bill - in case you were holding out any hopes.

Lew's Lessening Luv of Lulus

Stupid Stipends?

One of the perks of being the Council Speaker is that you get to decide who gets what. Who gets to chair which committees, who gets to sit in the front row of the Council chambers (in camera view), who gets extra room in their budget for more staff, etc. But perhaps the most ridiculed dispersal the Speaker can make is the salary stipend known in NYC polispeak as a "lulu". The lulu is paid above and beyond the $90,000 salary afforded to each Council Member, and is supposedly based on the committee one chairs.

So let's see how each of the Speaker candidates fared financially over the past 4 years.

Bill de Blasio received an additional $40,000 ($10k/year) as Chair of the Committee on General Welfare

Christine Quinn received an additional $60,000 ($15k/year) as Chair of the Committee on Health

David Weprin received an additional $72,000 ($18k/year) as Chair of the Committee on Finance

Joel Rivera received an additional $84,000 ($21k/year) for his dual role of Majority Leader and Chair of the Committee on State and Federal Legislation

Leroy Comrie received an additional $72,000 ($18k/year) for his dual role as Majority Whip and Chair of the Committee on Rules, privilege and Elections

Melinda Katz received an additional $72,000 ($18k/year) as Chair of the Committee on Land Use

And then there's Lew Fidler who started off receiving $10k/year but over time reduced his take to $8,250/year, putting him at $36,500 for the past 4 years of service as Chair of the Committee on Youth.

Was tax-payer guilt creeping up on Lew? We invite Council Member Fidler to explain...

Quinn & Obama to Stump with Ferrer

On the Move

Speaker candidate Christine Quinn will join Illinois Senator Barak Obama and others to campaign with Mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer at 2:45pm today - starting at the southeast corner of 8th Avenue and 19th Street, and walking over to 23rd Street and 8th Avenue.

A press availability will follow the event.

--Contact: 212-684-2005.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Open Call

Got Talent?

Come up with the winning slogan for our long-sleeve t-shirt design contest, and you can win $50. Come up with a slogan/design combination and you can win $75.

We're looking for a slogan and/or slogan/design combination that will not only capture the spirit of, but will also make the race for Speaker appealing and approachable to outsiders (as in, not political insiders).

Open call for submissions starts today and ends next Friday (November 11th). We will then publish the entries, and put them to a public vote.

Please send all submissions to

Specs: Images should be 200-300 dpi, 1200 x 1200 pixels, and up to 7" by 7"

Going on Record on Term Limits

The Question, Simple. The Answers, Not Always!

The Question on the Citizens Union candidate questionnaire reads as follows:

Do you support keeping Council term limits in place for two consecutive four year terms? If not, why, and what do you propose?

Here's what some of your Speaker candidates had to say:

Christine Quinn: I have a long standing opposition to term limits and thus firmly oppose the current term limit of two consecutive four year terms. Eight years is simply not long enough to learn how to do ones job and to effectively move a policy agenda. The current law is leading to a turnover of three quarters of the council at a given time and denies New Yorkers representation that they otherwise may elect to continue to serve them. Doing so disempowers the electorate and denies them their democratic right to choose for themselves who they want to represent them. In the end, term limits transfer power from elected representatives to lobbyists, unelected staff and advocates who Councilmembers will be increasingly dependent on for their knowledge and long-term understanding of the issues.

David Weprin: I have great reservations about the current term limits law and would be open to exploring changes to that law, provided there is sufficient public input to any significant changes to the law.

Bill de Blasio: I support extending term limits for Council Members to three four-year terms. I believe that under the current arrangements, Council Members do not have adequate time for long-term planning, which effectively transfers too much power to unelected staff and lobbyists, and upsets the balance of power between the Mayor and the Council.

** We invite the other Speaker candidates to submit their answers to this same question at

The Other People's Candidate

Lewis Fidler

According to yesterday's Crain's Insider, Speaker candidate Lewis Fidler is running "a low-key campaign, positioning himself as a consensus candidate acceptable to those he believes will decide the race - Democratic county organizations, unions, business groups and lobbyists."

So there you have it. As far as you, the people of this great city, the tax-paying head honchos are concerned, neither Lew Fidler nor The Insider had anything nice to say. Sorry.

Errol Herds Katz

Kudos Mr. Louis

In today's Daily News, columnist and editorial writer, Errol Louis, rains down on Speaker candidate Melinda Katz for taking on some conflicting interests.

"But a look at Katz's vast war chest - more than half a million dollars - shows that much of the money comes from real estate folks, whose interest may be related to her position as chair of the Land Use Committee. "

In addition to helping us mainstream this issue, we were particularly enthralled with the DN's choice of titles for the column.

Comrie Tackles Gun Violence

On the Move

At 11 a.m. today, Speaker candidate Leroy Comrie joins Council Member Letitia James to protest billboards that promote gun violence.

This event will be taking place at 1515 Broadway, between 44th and 45th streets.

Kate Suisman in James's office is the contact person: 212-788-7081.


Thursday, November 03, 2005


Darlene Mealey

This darling of organized labor pulled off an historic upset in the September Primaries, bringing down the Boyland Empire with a wallop.

Speaker candidates Quinn, Fidler, Rivera and Comrie kept their cool, and from what we can tell, stayed out of the fray.

But Weprin, Katz and de Blasio did not. They placed big bets on her opponent, Bill Boyland, Sr., father of term-limited Council Member Tracy Boyland.

If Mealey makes it through Tuesday's elections, someone's gonna have to pay (again). But who?

And might this transaction somehow make a difference? Council Member David Yassky placed a last minute wager on Mealey, literally in the 11th hour. And coincidentally, in the beginning of this year, candidate de Blasio parked some cash in the coffers of none other ... Brooklyn neighbor and colleague, Council Member Yassky.

So where does this leave Vito?

What's the Deal?

... With Manhattan's East Side?

It's mad boppin'. The pink elephant in the room (or rather, the blue and red one) has the Speaker candidates - and their armies - running wild.

Perhaps it was this latest New York Times piece, or maybe just a nudge from the recent Times and Citizens Union endorsements, but from the UFT headquarters to the City Council to Garodnick hq on to the Lappin campaign, bodies are flyin' all over the place.

So let's start south and work our way upwards.

At 52 Broadway (UFT hq): lots of peeps making lots of calls mostly on Jessica's behalf. Recruitment for bodies has been particularly heavy at 250 Broadway, btw, which might explain what's going on at the City Council ... N - O - T - H - I - N - G! Absolutely cavernous, sources say.

Confirmed at Garodnick hq: Weprin, de Blasio and Quinn have people working 'round the clock.

Confirmed at Lappin hq: Quinn folks running a tight ship with a flock of Miller aides coming in and out.

And meanwhile, Rosie Mendez is said to be on the lookout for new office space, of the more non-Scientological variety.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Speaking of Speakers

Here's the $50 Question

Who will be the next Speaker?

The folks over at The Fifth Estate are offering $50 (up from an initial $20) to the person who correctly identifies the next Speaker.

As it stands, you have a 1 in 7 chance - and even better, you are welcome to guess for free.

So give it a whirl!


Reich v. Hiram

Apparently part of the Queens County machine tactics involve a good bit of verbal abuse.

In this piece last year in the Daily News, Michael Reich, Executive Secretary of the Queens County Democratic organization, had this to say about Council Member Hiram Monserrate:

While it was never a match made in heaven - with a last-minute compromise earning Monserrate the party's support when he first ran in 2001 - the Corona councilman's independence has earned him the party's enmity.

"I would not want him to walk on the same side of the street that I am walking on," said party executive secretary Michael Reich, who has taken to calling him "Monster-rat."

Way to break 'em down boys!

I take it this means that Hiram will NOT be voting for the Manton-backed candidate?

This One's in the Bank

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Attention Speaker candidates. In case you had any ideas of pursuing the vote of one-time Mayoral candidate, Charles Barron, I wouldn't waste your time ... except if you're one Leroy Comrie.

In case you missed it in this recent Newsday piece:

Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn said he wanted a minority candidate to get the post because white males had too long held positions of political power, while no black or Latino ever has been mayor or council speaker.

"It is time for a person of color," he said in an interview last week. "I definitely feel strongly for Leroy Comrie. He has an institutional memory and he had been around a long time."

Changing the Rules ...

... of the Game?

I guess one of the beauties of being a legislator is that if you don't like the way something is done, you can write a new law to change the way said thing is done - even in the middle of the game.

So was the case this past summer when Speaker candidate, Bill de Blasio, led the charge to overturn a Campaign Finance Board (CFB) ruling on what are called single source contributions. The CFB decree essentially lumped contributions from a union's local chapters under one contribution limit; meaning that several locals within a larger union could NOT make separate contributions to the same candidate.

As you can imagine, labor leaders were less than thrilled, claiming that the ruling made it harder for candidates to take union money, and therefore effectively weakened their influence.

And since contributions from organized labor made up the greatest share (13%) of de Blasio's campaign war chest during the 2005 election cycle, it should probably come as no surprise that he (and fellow Speaker candidate, Leroy Comrie) were the bill's prime sponsors (excuse the pun).

Having said that, you should know that Bill still possesses a fairly grassrootsy base of contributors, with 32% of them donating $100 or less. However, his average contribution was a staggering $406.

Lobbyists & PACs combined made up 7% of his contributions, as did contributions coming from real estate interests.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And Who's His Daddy?

Apparently ... That Doesn't Matter

Over the summer, Joel had this to say to the Spectrum, a publication of the NYU Journalism Workshop in response to his nepotism-crying-critics:

Not everyone, however, believes Rivera has earned his stripes. His detractors note that he is the son of Jose Rivera, a state assemblyman and the Bronx Democratic County Committee chairman and that he holds the council seat that his father vacated.

Joel Rivera said that his power is not the result of his prominent political family. “Everyone has their own opinion and is entitled to it,” Joel Rivera said, “but I have been involved in grassroots movements for a long time and through this, I gained many years of experience.”

Just a little FYI. I believe that Joel is 26 years of age ... though please correct me if I'm wrong.

Power Play

The Daddy's Daddies!

In this 2002 Village Voice piece, Wayne Barrett does a good job of portraying the power party bosses can sway over the Speakership.

As an aside, Barrett also makes some interesting observations (at the time) regarding the borough of Brooklyn, and puts Speaker candidate, Bill de Blasio, on the record.

The locked-out borough is Brooklyn, whose 16-member delegation is the council's largest. Only five members got committee chairs, down from eight under Vallone, while another five got mostly inconsequential subcommittees. The borough even lost the Finance Committee, which Herb Berman skillfully used to Brooklyn's benefit for many years. Bill DiBlasio, the Park Slope councilman who helped engineer Perkins's switch to Miller, got General Welfare, and Lou Fidler got Youth Services, the two most important Brooklyn appointments.

Every one of a half dozen councilmembers from the borough contacted by the Voice—except DiBlasio—said Brooklyn had been hurt by Miller's retributive notion of justice. Brooklyn party leader Clarence Norman, of course, backed Rodriguez, indicating what happens to your borough in Miller's council if you've got the wrong boss.

Who's Your Daddy?

If you were to ask Chris Quinn...

She'd have to say big NYC real estate. Hands down.

Out of $273,000 in campaign contributions she took in during the 2005 Election Cycle, a whopping $63,000 (or 23%) came from real estate interests.

So big deal you say? The other 77% must have been funded by the little guy. Hmmm ... well ... NOT REALLY!

Only 18% of Chris's contributors gave $100 or less. Chris's average contribution for the 2005 cycle was a whopping $550 (that's one Bloomie real estate rebate plus another buck-fifty). Another 13% of her contributions came from lobbyists and PACs, and another 8% came from organized labor.

And to those who squawk that the campaign finance filings shouldn't be dissected, I can only suggest finding a new career. You've obviously been around politics for way too long. While the money trail may be of no consequence to you, I would think that for the city's tenants it might be important to have a leader who can safeguard their homes.

And to the campaigns of the other Speaker candidates ... don't jump for joy just yet. This posting marks the first of a series.