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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Backroom Judiciary

Kudos to the Judge

Ahhh ... what the heck! We thought we'd give one more shout-out to reformist Judge Margarita Lopez Torres (not to be confused in any way with former Council Member Margarita Lopez) for the historic decision that came down last week to rid the party bosses of their powers to handpick our Supreme Court justices.

Joyce Purnick of The New York Times talked to Judge Lopez Torres yesterday, and Errol Louis of the Daily News comments on the verdict today.

"But the trend of history has always been towards more transparency. I'm gratified that the process has been revealed for what it is, a sham. I have to have confidence in the process. And I do."
(- Judge Lopez Torres in The New York Times)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Musical Chairs, Council-Style

Yay!

An interesting read. Dan Barry of The New York Times wrote a fairly irreverent column this weekend about the Council's practice of doling out seat assignments to Council Members. It's a practice equally steeped in backroom politics as is the process of selecting the City Council Speaker.

Council Members who supported the new Speaker got their plum choice of seating. And for those who weren't so supportive ... well ... they ended up in the back of the room (standing no chance of landing on your evening newscast) or sitting in front of the statute of Thomas Jefferson - as was the case with oft-dissenting and Jefferson-loathing Council Member Charles Barron.

But ne'er mind that ... what we found most entertaining was the flagrant obnoxiousness emanating from the Council; and twas a battle at that.

On the one hand, you had Quinn Chief of Staff Chuck Meara who " said he found it hard to believe that anyone would care about seating assignments in the Council chamber," ... "and dismissed any idea that those assignments have been used as subtle punishment. "

Oh please!

And on the other ... well ... we've said enough already. You can read it here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bye-Bye Judicial Conventions!

Hello Sanity!

We've gotta say ... we never thought this day would come.

Yesterday, Federal Judge John Gleeson of the United States District Court in Brooklyn opened up a can of whoop-ass on the establishment for the way they have chosen their judicial nominees - a tip of the hat to democracy! The ruling bars the establishment from the practice of selecting candidates for State Supreme Court justice at sharply controlled nominating conventions that effectively rob voters of their say of who ultimately makes it to the bench.

Judge Margarita Lopez Torres who brought the case hailed the decision as "a victory for the judiciary and a victory for all New Yorkers and for democracy. It's also a victory for candidates who are well qualified but who have been shut out of the process." So reported William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Quinn's Arc

Starts with Promising Reforms

Question is, will it be a happy ending?

The edit heads at El Diario/La Prensa seem to be cautiously pessimistic, noting that Quinn's predecessor and close confidant, Speaker Miller, started his tenure similarly. Further, the piece notes that while on the one hand Quinn is dishing reforms, on the other she's still lulu-fied the Council, potentially negating the impact of all of her reforms combined.

We shall see...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More Lulu Ga-Ga!

Randomness!

David Seifman of the New York Post reported today that Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez will be getting another $6k for doing more of nothing. How's that for a reformed perk?

Gonzalez will now chair the Committee on Juvenile Justice, which previously was just a Subcommittee that oversaw the same agency. What has frustrated some is that while chair of the Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, Gonzalez held hearings at a once-a-year-clip. Blah!

"We're very disturbed," declared [Alex] Parker (
president of Local 1457, which represents workers in juvenile facilities). "She's actually going to be paid for not holding meetings for two more years."

And while we're on the topic of lulu-givers and lulu-takers, we too couldn't help notice Council Member Eric Gioia's change-o-'tude...

Last week, Gioia had this to say of newly minted Speaker Quinn:

...by linking leadership positions with cash, and by deciding the stipend amounts in private, they undermine people's faith that we act solely in the public interest.

And today, Gioia had this to say:

"I think Chris is taking the Council in the right direction in terms of reform. It needs to be our goal to rebuild people's faith in what we do."


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Valentines Day Massacre?

All's Quiet at the Council

But will it last? That's the concern of Council staffers, many of whom have survived through two Speakers already. Could their time be running out? Will there be a major shake-up? Will there be a repeat of Speaker Miller's 2002 VDay performance?

Ahhhh. Only time will tell. What we know now is that Speaker Quinn is readying herself to meet with all the Council departments individually next week. What tone will she set?

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Gift of Lulu

Edit Heads a Slappin'

In an editorial today entitled, "They're not all pigs," the Daily News edit heads give Council Member Tony Avella a loud-ass shout-out for turning down his lulu'd leadership for the fifth consecutive year. They have this to say:

Accepting a lulu "binds the recipient to the will of the leadership," Avella correctly notes. "Independence and freethinking ... [are] lost as a result." Along with putting one's constituents' concerns ahead of any other agenda.


And in the same piece, the edit heads give Lulu-come-lately-Council Member Eric Gioia a tiny tip of the hat for giving away his lulu to charity, saying:

Nice, but the money still comes out of taxpayers' pockets while Gioia gets credit for largess.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What's the Deal?

With Pols and Mailings...

They just can't keep their hands off of them ...

First, twas Speaker Giffie, with his $1.6 million dollar spread.

Now, it's C. Virginia Fields.

Frankie Edozien reports in today's New York Post that the former mayoral candidate and Manhattan Borough Prez, felt it necessary to detail for Manhattan residents her accomplishments in an 8-page spread.

Cost to taxpayers: $40,000

Benefit to taxpayers: $0

That Fields and Miller are no longer in office: some might say ... PRICELESS!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Quinnister Motives

Sans Reform

The edit heads at the Daily News this morning call Speaker Quinn on her bluff. Dubbing her the "Princess of Pork," the piece opens this way:

For a brief and fleeting moment, we had allowed ourselves to hope that Christine Quinn, newly installed as speaker of the City Council, would lift the municipal legislature from its piggy-feeding trough, but, alas, we were wrong.

For Quinn, hailed as a reformer and lauded as a path-breaker, has proven herself as much a patronage-dispensing, favor-doling, taxpayer-abusing, anti-democratic hack as any of her predecessors. She plans to get what she wants the oldest-fashioned way: by paying.


And in a separate Daily News piece, Frank Lombardi reports that Council Members Darlene Mealy, Melissa Mark-Viverito, James Sanders, Leticia James and Andrew Lanza share the distinction of being on Quinn's shit list ...

DOUBLE OUCH!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Lulu-fication of the Council

Big Money, Big Money

Yesterday probably marked the end of the warm beginning of Christine Quinn's term as City Council Speaker - at least vis-a-vis the NYC press corpse.

Today's stories about the half-million dollars worth of lulus Speaker Quinn doled out during yesterday's Stated Council Meeting reminded us of ... well ... how shall we say this ... Miller time!

So what are you waiting for? Start reading...

Frank Lombardi of the Daily News opens up his piece with this:

She's the first gay woman to serve as City Council speaker, but Christine Quinn followed the time-honored tradition of her good ol' boy predecessors when it came to doling out committee posts yesterday.


Meanwhile, Frankie Edozien of the New York Post, noted this:

Council members from Queens and The Bronx were the obvious winners in payback from Quinn to her powerful supporters, Queens Democratic leader Tom Manton and Bronx Democratic boss José Rivera.

Gioia's Got Quinn's Back

...With a Knife

We here at Backroomie ... we must admit ... we luuuvvv the meandering loyalties of our politicos.

Take Council Member Eric Gioia of Woodside, Queens, for example. He, Quinnie and Giffie were once three peas in a pod - and not so long ago at that. And it also wasn't so long ago when Gioia was doin' the lulu as good as, if not better than, many of his colleagues.

So suffice it to say that we were a bit taken aback both by the fact that Gioia suddenly gave up his $8,000 stipend, and also by Gioia's quote in today's Newsday where he says this of Quinn's lulu-making process:

...by linking leadership positions with cash, and by deciding the stipend amounts in private, they undermine people's faith that we act solely in the public interest.

OUCH!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Here's the Line-up

Inside sources say:

(continuously updated)

  • Queens keeps Finance and Land Use.
  • Education will go to Jackson.
  • Housing will go to Lopez fave, Dilan.
  • Sanders will be removed from Economic Development in favor of oldie but newbie Thomas White.
  • Fidler and de Blasio, ironically enough, will become ... get this ... Assistant Majority Leaders ... which seems like as good a justification as any for higher lulus.
  • Comrie will become Deputy Majority Leader & Chair Consumer Affairs.
  • Newbie Inez Dickens will become Majority Whip and will also Chair the Ethics Committee.
  • Yvette Clarke will no longer Chair Fire and Criminal Justice, but Miguel Martinez will.
  • Barron remains on Higher Ed.
  • Rivera becomes Chair of the Health Committee, replacing Speaker Quinn.
  • Reyna will Chair the Rules Committee.
  • Oliver Koppell will replace Margarita Lopez as Chair of Mental Health.
  • Aging will go to Maria del Carmen Arroyo
  • Contracts goes to Yvette Clarke
  • Waterfronts goes to Mike Nelson.
  • Small Business goes to David Yassky.
  • Civil Rights goes to Larry Seabrook.
  • Juvenile Justice goes to Sara Gonzalez.
  • Planning sub goes to Dan Garodnick.
  • Landmarks goes to Jessica Lappin.

Backroomie By the Numbers

Thanks for Reading!

As we await the official word (from City Hall) as to who's in and who's out ... of the Council Committees - and we do await with baited breath - we thought we'd give you a quick rundown of Backroomie's stats to date.


Since we launched just a few months ago, we've had:
  • Nearly 17,000 unique visitors
  • Over 10,000 returning visitors
  • Over 30,000 page views
Not bad for a nichey little mag...

Oh ... and yeah ... we'd also like to thank the following organizations for allowing employees to read Backroomie while on the job... a lot!

New York City Council * The Mayor's Office * NY State Division for Youth * Con Edison * NY State Assembly * New York Times * Daily News * New York Post * Newsday * New York Observer * New York Press * New York Sun * NY1 * News Communications * Columbia University * NY Public Library * Fordham University * Waterfront Commission of NY Harbor * Eagle Clothing Corp * Housing Works * RC Dolner * Tribune Company * Partridge Hill LLC * Baruch College * WNYC * WCBS * WABC * WNBC * New York University * New York Law School * Citizens Union * US House of Representatives * US Senate * New York Courts * George Washington University * Citizens Budget Commission * Campaign Finance Board * Prime New York * Skadden Arps * Consortium for Worker Education * Bear Sterns * Global Strategy Group * Paul Weiss * Media Log * NYPIRG * Towerstream Corp *Duane Morris Hecksche * Civil Service Employees Association *

This is a tiny sample of the universe from where our readers hail ... we'll add more to keep you entertained (and certainly feel free to email us or comment if you'd like to have your organization added to the list sooner rather than later).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's Committee Time Boys and Girls

Who's Gonna Get Kicked Where?

Lots of speculation, but no hard facts as of yet. Tomorrow is the big day!

We're willing to bet on Council Member Barron gettin' somethin' ... but short of a kick in the ass, we haven't a clue.

What we are certain of is that Manton, Lopez and Rivera allies will be treated quite well.

We know ... we're quite smart that way!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Council Potty Training

When You've Gotta Go...

... you've gotta go ... and apparently, Council Member Simcha Felder just couldn't hold it in any longer - especially as the roll call to vote on lesbian Christine Quinn's election as Speaker approached the F's.

A profile in courage or simply a case of too much porridge? That's the question rolling around City Hall now-a-days.

Though it appears the gastric pains may have been caused by the ultraorthodox wing of Felder's constituency, which has reservations about all things gay.

The Politicker reported this tidbit yesterday, and David Seifman of the Post followed it up today.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pay Day

Kickback #1: Ramon Martinez

Queens Boss Tom Manton, the dude who engineered Speaker Quinn, recently started cashing in. His first take is Public Advocate Gotbaum's Senior Advisor, Ramon Martinez.

Thanks to Manton, he has been hired as Quinn's Deputy Chief of Staff - and will be making an amount "slightly higher" than the current $160,000 he earns with Gotbaum - according to Council sources. That's what Frank Lombardi of the Daily News reported today.

Word on the street:
The good Quinn's Chief of Staff, Chuck Meara, could possibly do apparently remains uncertain - and he may need to start watching his back.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The People's House?

(photo from New York Times.com)

Not So Much


Columnist Joyce Purnick of the New York Times takes a look today at one of the unintended consequences of the term limits law, the ridiculous growth and power of lobbyists. She notes:

Their number and power have grown so noticeably that when Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn became speaker eight days ago, the Council chamber couldn't hold all the lobbyists who turned up.

Which makes the assertion that Speaker Quinn made during her acceptance speech - that "...we are the People's House," ring a bit hollow.

So here's our question. Will Speaker Quinn walk the talk? Your guess is as good as ours, but in the mean time here's what she had to say of the lobbyists influence at City Hall:

"It's problematic, something we need to be vigilant about, to make sure that the familiarity does not cross over the line," Ms. Quinn said in an interview.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Honeymoon is Over!

Perhaps, The Shortest Ever?

Now that didn't take long.

It started with a teaser from the New York Sun yesterday, and continued with the New York Post today.

The Post edit heads ... well ... how shall we say it ... they call Quinn and her labor pals ... liars!

Not a pretty piece by any stretch of the imagination, a piece that concludes this way:

It's not an auspicious start to Quinn's career as Speaker.
Color us not surprised.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Koch Reads Tea Leaves

Calls Quinn's Bluff

On tonight's Wise Guys segment of NY1's Inside City Hall, Mayor Ed Koch told host Dominic Carter that he's not buyin' what Speaker Quinn is selling.

What she was selling tonight was an extension of what she started selling last week - a full on backpedal on term limits.


Koch had this to say:

My own belief is that she [Speaker Quinn] committed herself to legislative action to the members of the City Council, and that if she puts it aside for now its only because the press has put a lot of pressure on her. ... I believe that if she gave her word to her members that we're going to see term limits on the legislative agenda for change...

In Case of Emergency...

Dial 1199

In the world of sending signals, smoke or otherwise, the edit heads at the New York Sun seemed less than impressed with Speaker Quinn for standing side-by-side with 1199 for her first official press conference.

They were particularly bothered, not only by the continued appearance of Millerism, but by the fact that the press release announcing Quinn's Principles came from the union rather than her government office.

Nevermind that. But the piece did reminds us of the unusual hold that 1199 has on the Speakership. Speaker Miller's first major initiative was the Living Wage Law, seen by most as an 1199 payback.

Hmmm ... where is Speaker Quinn headed?

Will the Real Speaker Quinn...

... Please Stand Up

Christine Quinn will make her first appearance tonight as Speaker on NY1's Inside City Hall.

And we're certain that if nothing else, two things are going to happen.

1) The Speaker will be congratulated, and lauded for being the first female and lesbian to hold the post; and

2) She's going to face a line of questioning on the Council's plans to alter their own term limits legislatively - in spite of voters twice willing term limits into existence.

Problem is, we're not sure which Speaker Quinn is going to show up tonight. Will it be the one who made this promise to her colleagues? Or, will it be the one who most recently started inching backwards?

We are as curious to find out as you are...

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Foregone Conclusions

In Our PermaGov

Last week, columnist John Avlon of the New York Sun took the most insightful look we've read to date on the Speakership race that was, and then wasn't. Much like Backroomie, Avlon took great issue with the process, saying:

...Initially, there was a crowded and competitive field, but just days before the final vote was scheduled, all the other candidates miraculously dropped out to leave only Manhattan's Christine Quinn standing.

When election results are determined before the election itself is held, it is a bad sign. Unanimity is antithetical to democracy.

He goes on to note that:

If this is progress, it deserves to be taken with a side shot of skepticism. It marks less a change than a continuation of influence by the unelected. The fact that Ms. Quinn has retained outgoing City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's chief of staff indicates what is occurring.


We could not have argued the point any better!!

Expectations Riding High

So Says the New York Times

Yesterday, the edit heads at the NY Times gave the newly minted Speaker Quinn a whole-hearted welcome, concluding:

New Yorkers have reason to have high hopes for Ms. Quinn. She has a strong activist spirit and has always been good at working with communities at the grass roots level. Her straightforward manner should serve her well. She has said she wants her tenure to be one of big ideas. It's a goal worthy of the city she will help to lead.


But not without first taking the time to issue a few stern warnings.

Here was one of them:

It's also important that she establish priorities independent of the county party bosses and other forces who helped to elevate her to speaker. The concern is no small one. Democratic leaders in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn helped engineer the near-unanimous vote; the lone abstainer was Charles Barron, from Brooklyn, who spoke for many New Yorkers when he took issue with the insider-only process.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Strollin'

Bloggy Style

It's been a long week for Backroomie. Lots 'o action. And now, we're tired. So let's stroll...

We start off with our brethren, PO Boss. Per the new ad in our sidebar, the Boss takes a satirical and cynical look at who exactly is the boss of whom and gears up for the next major battle, term limits.

Over at The Politicker, Ben & co. take a look at the reemergence of former City Council President Tom Cuite by way of his opposition to a gay rights bill 30 years ago. And also take a whack at the gayphoria that gripped the Council this week.

Meanwhile, Fifth Estate recounts how de Blasio could not get beyond the number 17. He was ... how shall we say it ... stuck.

And over on Wonkster, Gotham Gazette's blog, Joshua goes after our heart of hearts ... peering into the backrooms of the Speaker's race. Guess we should've welcomed them as well!

The Times & Newsday Enter the Backroom

Welcome!

We're happy you're here.

Now that gayphoria is subsiding, New York Times City Hall reporter Winnie Hu and Newsday columninst William Murphy decided to turn their attention to Speaker Quinn's powerful friends.

The concern over the influence Kingmakers Manton, Lopez and Rivera (the County bosses who sat "prominently in the front row like doting uncles" during Wednesday's crowning ceremony) might now wield over Speaker Quinn is becoming more and more real.

In Murphy's piece, CUNY Professor Doug Muzzio had this to say:

"This was deja vu all over again. It's a repeat of 2001 and once again Tom Manton won big," Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said yesterday.

"Tom Manton got exactly what he got in 2001 - a lot," said Muzzio, who moderated a post-election forum in November with the leading candidates for council speaker.





Hu concluded her piece with this insight from former Speaker candidate Lew Fidler:

"She's [Speaker Quinn] very much an inside player," said Councilman Lewis A. Fidler of Brooklyn, who had also vied for speaker. "I don't think she ever pretended that she was anything else."


Read the NYT piece in its entirety here!

Updated, 8:45am

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So ... So Gay

But the Gayest in America?

Admittedly, there is no way we could do this next story justice. It's a satirical piece from Chris Davis of MichNews.com.

You're better off reading it for yourself ... but to get you started, here's a snippet:

Christine Quinn wept several times during a passionate speech to the 51-member council, thanking her father and her partner, Kim Catullo, who looked on from the audience, making New York the most diverse city in America.

“Let me say that I am incredibly proud that in the most diverse city in the world, diversity is seen as a strength, and not an impediment,” Quinn said. “You won’t find a gayer city in America. Say what you will about San Francisco, but they just marry them, we elect them here in New York. So start spreading the news!”

Click here to read the piece in its entirety.

Old Skoooool

WNYC Took Notice

Kudos to WNYC reporter Amy Eddings for questioning the bizarro world that is NYC politics.

In this short but useful news segment, a day before Quinn's crowning, Eddings asks her colleague Bob Hennelly this rather comical question:

"So tell me, Bob, how does it happen that we have Christine Quinn basically giving her acceptance speech a day before the actual event happens?"

Click here for Bob's response! (mp3)

It's all good...

The Hammer's Still Got It

Quote of the Year

So the coverage from yesterday's Speakership election is voluminous ... not just in NYC, but all over the United States. Click here for a sampling c/o Google News.

But nothing, and we mean NOTHING, beats the quote from Queens County Party Boss Tom Manton, after he presided from his front-row perch over Quinn's crowning.

Here's what Manton told Michael Scotto of NY1:

“I think she [Speaker Quinn] on her own merits could have done this [win the Speakership]. It's just maybe an afterthought that the county organizations or the bosses got involved in it.”

Now that's Chris Quinn, laugh-out-loud, freakin' hilarious!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

We Love Our Toys

Especially the Speakermobile

We thought it random enough when the minister at today's ceremonies prayed for "Speaker Quinn," before she was officially Speakerized. But given what we recently discovered, he may not have been so far off base.

It so happens that Speaker-select Quinn (aka Council Member Christine Quinn at the time) drove up to the City Council in the black Suburban Speakermobile, with full security detail in tow (Gifford Miller style).

The aesthetics ... ummmm ... odd.

It's Official...

Speaker Christine Callaghan Quinn

[compilation of earlier live posts]

Speaker-select Quinn walked into a standing room only City Council Chambers, a room packed with insiders ... lobbyists, party bosses, union heads, elected officials, staff, friends and family.

Kingmakers Manton, Rivera and Lopez had front row seats, as did UFT chief Randi Weingarten. Oddly enough, she was the only union head sitting in the elected officials' section (hmmm...note to self), and just behind arch nemesis, former Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, no less (that's entertaining because...).

Quinn received a prolonged ovation. There appeared to be recognition of the significance of the moment: Quinn is a woman and openly gay, a Speakership first. Recognition is good!

Following a flawed roll call in which one former Council Member's name was called (Margarita Lopez) and one current Council Member's name was not (Miguel Martinez), a Brooklyn minister prayed for the crowd, and for "Speaker Quinn" ... even though the vote to make her Speaker and all hadn't yet happened. But no worries, that's just backroomie feeling a little funny inside.

Another odd moment came during Quinn's final words, after giving an impassioned speech. She recounted a story where her father recently yelled at the television set because the reporter - after mentioning that Quinn was a woman and openly gay - forgot to mention that she was Irish as well. Cute story indeed.

But what wasn't so cute was the exchange that transpired immediately thereafter between Quinn and a very excited Irishman, Queens Boss Tom Manton. The two had this wink-wink back and forth finger-pointing, I love you thing going on. Made backroomie feel even funnier inside.

Live Webcast

In the Sidebar

Simply surf on over to the sidebar if you'd like to witness today's proceedings live - starting at 12:00 noon.

Except for one or two rambunctious objectors, expect to see a near unanimous vote for Speaker Quinn - courtesy of County Kings Manton, Rivera and Lopez.

The Morning Line-up

Is Long and Deep

Winnie Hu of the New York Times writes a Front Page (as in A1) feature story on Speaker-to-be Christine Callaghan Quinn, painting her as a "Doer and Trailblazer".

Meanwhile, the Daily News has a three-fer on Quinn. Karen Matthews has a story from yesterday's press conference; Michael Goodwin warns that Quinn will defy the voters on term limits; and lastly, the edit heads welcome the City's first woman and openly gay Speaker, and preview for her the smack that will come down should she choose to putz around with the term limits voters put in place.

The New York Post offers a two-fer. Stefan Friedman and David Seifman give us another Quinn feature, introducing Kim Catullo (Quinn's Partner), Lawrence Quinn (her father) as well as Andy and Sadie (her two dogs). And the Post edit heads welcome Quinn with a suggestion of their own - that she not be like Speaker Giff.

Newsday
offers a multiple-fer as well. First a Short Take on the irony of having two well-established Glen Cove residents as prominent political figures in NY State. Second, Melanie Lefkowitz recounts Quinn's deft backroom maneuvering.

And lastly, the New York Sun gives us these two takes: a look at the buzz behind how the Council spoils will be divvied (as in, committee assignments, leadership posts and phat salaries) - courtesy of Jill Gardiner; and, a review of another press conference yesterday in which the goo-goos called on Quinn and her Council to enact a set of rules reforms.

Live from City Hall

It's Quinn Time

We'll be blogging live today from the City Council Chambers - as Speaker-ordained Christine Quinn becomes the new City Council Speaker; and if possible, we'll also provide you with a live feed to the webcast of the proceedings.

12:00pm. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chuck Will Not Be Chucked

Such is the Word

Apparently, Council Chief of Staff Chuck Meara could do more good. At least in the eyes of Speaker-select Quinn.

That is the word from an email announcement that went out at the City Council - signed btw by Miller Communications Director Steve Sigmund.

And check this - Sigmund is now said to be leaving for the Port Authority - which oddly enough, is where Chuck chucked wood prior to entering the Council.

Luvin' it!

Quinnius Term Limitus

It's Showtime

Tomorrow, speaker-ordained Quinn will be officially put into office. She will effectively become the City's second most powerful elected official.

Her first challenge will be to fulfill promise numero uno, the one she made to her colleagues, to alter the Council's term limits. Remember those? The ones the voters twice willed into existence. And to boot, she promised to do the do legislatively.

The edit heads at all the major papers have already fired their warning shots, as have Mayor B, a number of the goo goos and the PO Boss.

Here's a rundown of which Council Members plan on giving the voters the Heisman.

You tell us ... what happens next?

Gay Publications

Good Hair Day

As you can imagine, what makes the selection of Christine Quinn unique is not only that she is the first woman to hold the Speakership post, but also the first out lesbian.

365gay.com (as in, gay all year round) leads today with:

Christine Quinn has earned a double distinction, becoming the first woman and the first out lesbian to serve as the speaker of New York City Council.

Good as You has this to say:

Democratic Councilwoman Christine Quinn (pic.) is expected to be nominated to the powerful position. Meaning, of course, that the City Council will now use the terms "baby dyke," "U-haul," and "new season of the 'The L Word'" far more frequently.

Queerty has a piece titled "Lesbian Gets Closer to Bloomberg";

And even Fox-TV in Columbus, Georgia (of all places) covered Quinn's pending vitory. Click here to view.

Of this, there'll be more to come ... of that, we're certain!

Speaker Quinn

On the Move

Press Availability Today - 1:00pm

At the Caring Community Senior Center, Our Lady of Pompeii Church
25 Carmine St., enter on Bleecker Street

--Contact: Jeremy Hoffman, 917-359-4203

FYI.

We've Got Ourselves a New Speaker!

'Twas Quite a Day

Updated, 11:25am

In true backroom fashion, the party bosses of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx united yesterday to ordain Christine Quinn as the next City Council Speaker - and a full 48 hours in advance of the actual vote no less.

That's right people ... it's a done deal! Late yesterday afternoon, Speaker candidate Bill de Blasio - Quinn's top rival - conceded. For all practical purposes, the race is over. The vote during tomorrow's Charter Meeting will again just be a formality - a performance of sorts for Kings Manton, Rivera and Lopez.

The full extent of the negotiated settlement may never be completely known ... but here's what we think we know thus far.
  • Queens will continue controlling the Rules, Finance and Land Use Committees.
  • Bronx will keep control of its committees.
  • Brooklyn will most likely gain control of the Housing & Buildings Committee
  • It now looks like the Education Committee, contrary to earlier reports, will go to Council Member Robert Jackson of Manhattan (according to The Politicker).
  • Speaker candidates Fidler and de Blasio will most likely attain leadership posts (also via The Politicker).
Statements of note over the past 24 hours:

"Where Queens goes, the Speaker goes," Queens Speaker candidate David Weprin told The Politicker.

"This is an extension of Millerism," Charles Barron, the Brooklyn radical who supported de Blasio, told The Politicker. "Alliances with the real estate industry and allegiance to Queens. Quinn will not be independent from Queens just like Miller wasn't, and to me that's disgusting."

And Jill Gardiner of the New York Sun gathered the following panoply of notable quotes:

"I think it's clear from this that the county organizations are still powerful and that Queens makes out like a bandit again," a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, Douglas Muzzio.

Letitia James, Brooklyn Councilwoman and de Blasio supporter, called yesterday "a sad day for Brooklyn." And said that she was "disappointed that Brooklyn could not bring home the bacon."

And Republican Minority Leader James Oddo had this to say,
"Arithmetic has no mercy. There will no be mercy in the arithmetic for the person who comes in second. Once the dominos start falling nobody wants to be on the wrong side."

Lastly, the folks at PO Boss are gearing up for the term limits battle. Quinn has indicated - without an ounce of doubt - that she plans to alter term limits through legislative fiat.

The Dailies

With Quinn A Shoe-In

Newsday reporters Melanie Lefkowitz and Dan Janison briefly recount the odyssey that will officially turn West Side Councilwoman Christine Quinn into the first woman and openly gay City Council Speaker since the position was created in 1989.

Winnie Hu of the Times also takes a look at the maneuvering that helped Quinn secure the Speakership post.

Updated, 9:25am: David Seifman and Carl Campanile of the New York Post weigh-in here; Michael Saul and Lisa Colangelo of the Daily News, here; and Jill Gardiner of the New York Sun, here.

Quinn had this to say in a statement emailed to reporters late Monday afternoon:

"I am gratified for the support of my colleagues. I look forward to the vote on Wednesday and to working with them to improve the lives of all New Yorkers."


We say: Congrats, Ms. Speaker! But want to know what's there to look forward to by way of the vote? You already know how it's going to turn out...

Monday, January 02, 2006

de Blasio's Concession

Statement from Bill de Blasio:

"I've given this race my all, but my colleague, Christine Quinn, has the support to win. Now it's time to unite the Council and ensure a strong Speaker, so I am supporting Chris to be the next Speaker of the City Council. I am grateful to all of my colleagues who came together in a progressive, multi-borough coalition to back my own candidacy, but now I'm urging them to join me in supporting Chris."

"Chris and I have worked closely over the last four years as colleagues, and for years before that as staff members in government. I have the utmost confidence that Chris will be a great Speaker who will lead our Council in a progressive direction and strengthen the Council's role of representing every neighborhood of our city, with a special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable of our fellow New Yorkers."

The Education Committee

Wha?

What may become the most interesting side note of the Speaker crowning, could be the future of the Council's Committee on Education. For the past 4 years - under outgoing East Side Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz - the Committee has developed a rather strong personality, for better or worse.

But now, The Politicker reports that part of the negotiated settlement in the Quinning of the Speakership is that a Brooklyn Council Member will head the Education Committee, not one from Manhattan - meaning, NOT CFE champ Councilman Robert Jackson.

True? Only time will tell...

Fidler Goes OTR

Here's What He's Got to Say

So Speaker Quinn? How did it all go down?

Not really sure. Tell you the truth, not sure that I want know ... at least not for a while.

She [Quinn] was ... the term that was used most often - in a positive way - the lowest common denominator ... she had the most acceptable politics to the most people ... certainly the most acceptable to me.

So Miller time was good for Queens?

Queens did very well 4 years ago with Gifford, and Christine most represents the status quo in many ways...

What's good about this deal for the Council and the public?

Christine Quinn is going to be an excellent speaker. Despite the notion that you guys had that this is all up to the party leaders, the choice of Christine Quinn is truly the choice of the majority of the Council.

What's bad about it?

It wasn't me.

There are rumors flying that Katz will be ousted from Land Use. Is this true?

As far as I know, not in the least. While Melinda may have maneuvered earlier on while jockeying for position ... I think once she realized that it was not going to be her, and that 49 other Council Members would jump to Chair the Land Use Committee, she decided to hold onto what she's got.

Queens It Is. Oops ... We Mean Quinn!

Party Machinery Running Smoothly

Sorry for the delay. Severe technical issues with Blogger today.

Anyway, in case anyone had any lingering doubts as to how this backroom deal would end, all sources now point to a Speaker Christine Quinn.

Several sources say that Kings Manton, Rivera and Lopez are spending the day making calls to their members on behalf of Quinn.

The deal seems to be that Queens (not Quinn) and the Bronx will keep all the chief Chair posts... and that Lopez's block of 5 votes will also be taken care of - if you know what we mean.

Barring a last minute de Blasio or Fidler coup, it's pretty much over!

More to come...

Update: The Politicker is now reporting that Speaker candidate Katz's future also hangs in the balance. Apparently, she tried going around those who brung her???

Leading Indicator?

Here's What You Have to Say (So Far)

As of 10:15am today, 126 of you have cast your votes in an effort to predict who will be the next City Council Speaker.

While we do not yet know the final results (meaning, which way the good 'ol boys from Queens will go), we do know that according to you Councilwoman Christine Quinn (with 39% of the vote) is the odds-on favorite to become the next City Council Speaker.

Second to Quinn, the results are leaning towards Fidler (22%) and de Blasio (20%), both of Brooklyn.

The polls are still open ... and will remain so until Queens County officially announces ... so don't hesitate to vote in the sidebar.

The Waning Day(s)

A Few Shoutouts

First comes the Daily News which today published a leading voices overview of the next City Council Speaker - whoever he or she may be. The DN's Lisa Colangelo and Celeste Katz feature Speaker candidates Quinn and de Blasio, respectively.

And the edit heads at the New York Post warn the next City Council to take a hard look at the impact that their term limits tinkering might have on all elected offices and officials.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Not Queens. Quinn?

Word on the Street

A Queens Council Member will not be the next Speaker. So they've all - Comrie, Katz and Weprin - been informed this weekend by the head honchos at Queens County.

But is it Quinn?

Times Salutes Miller

For the Most Part

To ring in the New Year, the edit heads at the Times give a shout-out to outgoing Council Speaker Gifford Miller - who just so happens to be vacationing right now.

On the plus side, the Times has this to say of Miller's tenure:

... Mr. Miller deserves to be remembered for exercising strong and creative leadership at moments when the mayor's executive ambitions needed a restraining hand.

And on the not-so-plus side, the Times reminds us that:

Among Mr. Miller's strengths was his ability to see all sides of an issue, but sometimes this led to indecision, and he seemed not to understand how he annoyed everyone by sitting on the fence forever, as he did before supporting the lead paint bill and opposing the West Side stadium. His deliberate style also hurt him when he did not move quickly enough to pursue sexual harassment charges against Allan Jennings, a council member from Queens.


Either way, no matter where you fall on Miller's tenure, you can can read the piece in its entirety here.