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

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Are You Lost in Translation?

If So, We Apologize!

It recently dawned on us that too often we throw around words that have more meaning to NYC political insiders than they do to people on the outside.

So we'd like to provide you a handy guide to our lingo, political and otherwise. We've linked this guide to the sidebar, so it's always there for you if you need it. It'll be continuously updated.


Bitch-slap: same as in the non-political world; settin' someone straight

Campaign Finance Board: aka the CFB; administers the political campaign financing program for the City of New York; administers public funds to eligible campaigns, and also requires that these campaigns periodically report their spending. The CFB makes it easier to follow the money trail.

Candidate questionnaire: many organizations require that candidates running for office provide their stances on various issues in order to be considered for endorsement.

Charter Revision Commission: an appointed group of people charged with reviewing the entire Charter of the City of New York, holding hearings in all five boroughs to solicit public input, and issuing a report outlining findings and recommendations to amend or revise the Charter.

Chief of Staff: the top managerial official of any elected representative.

Clusterfuck: the tangled web of relationships that is politics

Commuter Tax: a tax imposed on people who live outside of New York City, but work within it; the theory is that these people utilize city services and should pay their share.

County organizations:
the umbrella Democratic organization for each of the city's five boroughs

as in, who's your daddy?; when we use the word daddy we're usually referring to a person or group of people that have or are likely to have influence over an elected official

District Leader:
unpaid and the lowest-ranking elected officials in NYC, though they can play an important part in helping shape a district’s agenda

slang for money

Franchise: a privilege or right officially granted a person or a group by the government

as in, front-woman or -man; somebody who performs actions on behalf of someone else.

Goo-goo: slang for "good government" groups; government watchdogs

Grassrootsiness: describes how closely tied an elected official is to their base of constituents.

Gray Lady:
aka The New York Times

Herding cats: commonly used reference describing the job of the Speaker of the City Council (as in 51 different Council Members to herd)

Legislative Fiat: authorized or sanctioned by the legislature

Lobbyists: a group of people engaged in trying to influence legislators or other public officials in favor of a specific cause.

Lulus: stipends paid above and beyond the mandated salary to City Council Members; the amount is usually determined by the Speaker of the City Council, and traditionally has been based on loyalty.

Matching funds: public monies that the Campaign Finance Board doles out to participating political campaigns based on how much they have raised.

Pay to play: quid pro quo; you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

Praise/Wrath Scorecard: a scorecard we keep to monitor our own reporting.

Public Advocate: 2nd in line to the Mayoralty, this person acts as the City's watchdog and as New Yorkers' ombudsperson.

Rabbi: this one's of the non-Jewish variety; it's a person who has influence over another.

the submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a direct popular vote.

the leader of the 51-member body of the New York City Council

Unelected staff: the staff that supports our elected officials and comprises the bureaucracy that is our government.


Blogger Barry Popik said...

Hey! I thought I was the language guy here!

Nice list.

2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

now thers nothing special about being a staffer. what else ya gonna do - give out blackberries to everyone who visits the blog?

3:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys must really have a lot of time on your hands. . . .you lazy bureaucrats!

5:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's one you forgot...

Tom Manton: the guy who picks the next speaker.

7:29 PM


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