Author Archive

To G Or Not To G

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Opinion

chirlane Chirlane McCray made her first official solo appearance as New York’s First Lady last month at an immigration forum sponsored by the Black Institute, an “action tank” run by longtime de Blasio friend and political ally Bertha Lewis. McCray’s talk was followed by the release of a Black Institute video spot featuring McCray and the ubiquitous de Blasio children, in which the three of them proudly announce themselves as “G,” a term that, according to the Black Institute’s “G Project”… [More]

Rules Reform Deformed

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Blog, Features, Government Operations, News, Other News

The Progressive Caucus that now dominates the New York City Council leadership came to power promising sweeping reforms to how the body functions. These changes, according to the drafters of the agenda that 32 Council members have pledged to support, will increase transparency, empower committee chairs, establish equitable discretionary funding and make the Council generally more democratic. What is missing from the reform agenda, however, is the one item that has been pointed to year after year as a key… [More]

“TIE” Breaker: Incumbent City Councilwoman Exploits Transition Funds

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Features, Opinion

New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, elected in November to a second term representing lower Manhattan, raised more than $30,000 for her inauguration expenses, which she appears to have used to pay bonuses to her campaign staff and for an elaborate “fundraiser.” Former mayor David Dinkins’ 1989 inauguration was funded by massive private donations far in excess of what campaign finance laws allow for electoral contributions. His successor, Rudy Giuliani, adopted voluntary limits on what his inaugural committees would accept, and… [More]

Mark-Viverito: The 1 Percent Speaker for the 99 Percent

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Features, Opinion

Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, leading contender for Speaker, is widely known as a former employee and supporter of labor union SEIU; as an activist who coordinated protests against the Navy’s use of Vieques as a proving ground; and as a committed radical representing Spanish Harlem, or “El Barrio.” She is less widely recognized as a millionaire who grew up in an exclusive suburb of San Juan, and who established residence in her district only four years before first seeking election there.… [More]

Council Watch: Twilight Of The Bosses?

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Features, News, Opinion

An odd bit of political theater surrounds the current campaign for New York City Council Speaker, in the form of a road show featuring the half-dozen or so candidates for the job making a pitch to the public, debating one another as though the position were open to a general vote. Of course, the Speaker is elected by his or her colleagues on the Council, and only needs to amass support from 25 other members to win. So what is the point… [More]

Post-Mortem for a Predictable Election

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in News

New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who will be one of only three Republicans in the Council next year, was re-elected with 53.1 percent of the vote. (Photo by Eric Ulrich Facebook Page) Election Day in New York City delivered no major surprises, but there are intriguing stories to be winkled out of the details. Bill de Blasio scored an astounding victory, crushing his opponent by nearly 50 points and winning three out of every four votes cast. Yet we… [More]

The Next Suffrage Movement: Is New York City On The Verge Of Changing Voting In America?

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Features, Opinion

Possibly the most radical change in the history of the American franchise since women got the vote in 1920 is likely to be enacted in New York City next year, yet it has gone completely under the radar. A bill to expand voting in all municipal elections to anyone over the age of 18 legally residing in the city—about 850,000 people—currently has 31 co-sponsors. When the new Council is seated in January the bill, Intro 410, will likely gain enough new co-sponsors… [More]

Council Watch: Win or Lose, Consultants Win

Written by Seth Barron on . Posted in Opinion

Politicians come and go, elections are won and lost, but consultants abide forever. As long as there is a demand for elected officials, candidates will be hiring experts to guide their candidacies. There is no industry as recession-proof as political consulting: Have you heard any calls for eliminating elections recently? Term limits mean more turnover; and campaign finance reform, which generally means public financing in one form or another, further entrenches and enriches the consultants who end up the recipients… [More]