Despite numerous reports indicating Mayor Bill de Blasio’s involvement in pushing Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito for speaker, the mayor continued to evade questions on his involvement in the speaker’s race, insisting that the Council will make their decision independent of his involvement. As a way of comparing de Blasio’s behind-the-scenes advocacy for Mark-Viverito to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s alliance with former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the mayor was asked why he relentlessly criticized Quinn during the Democratic mayoral campaign for being closely aligned with Bloomberg when it appears he has a similar working relationship with Mark-Viverito.
“If people want to make the parallel they can, and I understand if that’s what people see as logic. I won’t go into details and I think people can fill in the blanks for themselves, they are profoundly different realities,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is, I’ve said throughout, the Council members are going to make their decision and then I know that they will be independent and she will be independent, I have no doubt about it. I think she will do a great job and we have very similar values and goals for this city, but I guarantee you there will be a lot of independence.”
When pressed about the “different realities” between the Bloomberg-Quinn dynamic, de Blasio answered with a somewhat cryptic statement.
“I’ll just say it this way, Michael Bloomberg and I are very different people in ideology and in many other ways. I just think it’s a different reality. I am blessed that whatever ability I have to have an impact this city is derived from the support of the people and nothing else. I will work with the City Council with that in mind.”
The City Council will vote for a new speaker tomorrow. Mark-Viverito has already declared victory in the race, with 30 members supporting her candidacy, as well as Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer. Her chief opponent, Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who has the support of the Democratic county leaders from the Queens and Bronx, Rep. Joe Crowley and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, respectively, has yet to concede.
Also on the agenda for the Council on Wednesday will be proposed rules reform, which include potentially revamping the discretionary funds, or member items, process. Member items have been a controversial topic for some time, most notably regarding Quinn’s alleged use of the funds to “punish” or “reward” members that would not fall in line with her agenda. Both Mark-Viverito and Garodnick support implementing a more Democratic member items allocation, based in part on the needs of a member’s district. De Blasio criticized Quinn’s use of member items, and reiterated his desire to see them eliminated at today’s press conference.
“My goal is to end member items as we know it,” de Blasio said. “It’s happened at the federal level, it’s happened at the state level I think New York needs to follow suit, so my preference is that we end them immediately. Of course, there will be a negotiation with the City Council over that. I do think that the reforms put forward, if there were member items for any ongoing period of time, that they be reformed more transparently, more fair and equal among districts, that certainly would constitute progress.”
Tags: carl heastie, Christine Quinn, City Council speaker race, Comptroller Scott Stringer, dan-garodnick, Joe Crowley, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Melissa-Mark Viverito, member items, Michael Bloomberg, Public Advocate Letitia James