Speaker Selection: The Staten Island Bipartisan Edition (Updated x 2)



Tonight the speaker candidate forum road show rolled out to Staten Island, with the seven publicly declared contenders appearing together for the sixth, and presumably final, time. For the first time, Republican council members joined as hosts.  Ben Max, of DecideNYC.com, moderated.

Three of the 51 incoming City Council members will be Republicans, with two of those three representing Staten Island.  So few in number that they have virtually no influence simply through their numbers, the Republican council members nonetheless have managed to succeed and maintain a presence exceeding what their tiny minority would be expected to generate.  In the selection of the next speaker, they may well be irrelevant.  If, however, the selection is a close race decided by a floor vote the three Republicans could be a meaningful bloc.

After tonight’s forum we spoke with Vincent Ignizio, a Republican council member just elected to his third term, about the role, if any, that council Republicans may play in the selection and about his view of the race.

Update – Steven Matteo:

We also spoke with Steven Matteo, Staten Island’s second Republican member of the city  council.  I began by asking Matteo for his reaction to the speaker candidate public forums.

Update #2 – Debi Rose:

We spoke with Debi Rose, Staten Island’s sole Democratic member of the City Council.  Rose described her high regard for many of the speaker aspirants and lamented the challenge of choosing among them.  The public forums have caused Rose to expand the list of candidates that she personally is open to, although she notes that she is committed to voting with the “Progressive Bloc.”  We also discussed the Progressive Bloc’s timing and the reaction of council members not part of the Progressive Bloc as the Bloc has organized itself.

Be sure to watch our coverage of all five prior forums, held in Manhattan at the Talking Transition Tent and Baruch College, in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Jackson Heights.  Our coverage includes conversations with many council members/member-elects about the selection process, including, in addition to Ignizio, Matteo and Rose, Corey Johnson, Karen Koslowitz, Andrew Cohen, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torrres and Helen Rosenthal.

Speaker Selection: The Talking Transition Tent Edition (Updated x 2)



Last night the council speaker forum series rolled into the Talking Transition tent for a forum moderated by Errol Louis and Juan Manuel Benitez and broadcast live on NY1 and NY1 Noticias.

Here’s an insightful question asked by Louis:  Describe one piece of legislation that you think speaks most directly to why you would be a good city council speaker?  Their answers:

Weprin:  Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

Vacca:  Pregnancy Rights Act.

Palma:   a bill to provide shelters with adequate food and supplies in the event of a future severe storm (not specifically named in her answer).

Mark-Viverito:  ICE Out of Rikers.

Garodnick:  Tenant Protection Act.

Dickens:  a bill centralizing plumbing complaints to the Department of Buildings (not specifically named in her answer).

Update – Corey Johnson:

We spoke with Council Member-elect Corey Johnson about the public forums, the speaker selection process and the progressive bloc’s timing and process.

Update #2 – Full Forum:

Here is the full forum:


Be sure to watch our coverage from the prior forums held in Jackson Heights, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Also watch some lighter moments from this forum here.

Politicians Are People Too (Updated)



This brief clip features six of the contenders for city council speaker, just before a forum broadcast live on NY1.  The six are seated onstage, in place just a few minutes before the broadcast is to begin.  As last minute tech checks are completed and the clock ticks toward air time, the production team played a few songs, both in the hall and on the sound feed.  (The sound was not edited or dubbed for this video.)

Update – Busting Out …:

The pre-forum fun also included a brief dance move by one of the speaker aspirants.

Speaker Selection: The Muzzio Edition (Updated x 2)



Wednesday evening, Professor Doug Muzzio moderated a council speaker forum at Baruch College.  Seven contenders participated; Jumaane Williams, Dan Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, James Vacca, Mark Weprin and Inez Dickens.

Karen Koslowitz:

Following the forum, we spoke with Council Member Karen Koslowitz about the race, how it’s shaping up with her fellow council members and when she expects the winner to be identified.  Koslowitz, a Queens Democrat, was elected to office in 2009 and re-elected this year.  She previously served on the Council from 1991-2001.

(Lots more video on the full page.) Continue reading

Speaker Selection: The Brooklyn Edition (Updated)



Last night the City Council Speaker forum series moved to Brooklyn, picking up a seventh contender with Council Member Jumaane Williams joining in.

After the forum we spoke with Council Member Brad Lander.  Lander is a leading member of the “progessive bloc”, a group of approximately 20 progressive council members who plan to unite behind a single, but as yet undetermined, candidate.  We discussed the forums and their role in an election with only 51 voters, what the progressive bloc seeks, how the selection will unfold and whether the progressive bloc is likely to hold together behind a single candidate.

Update – Carlos Menchaca:

We also spoke with Council Member-elect Carlos Menchaca about the forums and the selection process.  Menchaca is a newly elected member of the City Council who, along with fellow newly elected members Helen Rosenthal, Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, conceived and organized the public forums.

Speaker Selection: The Bronx Edition (Updated)



Last night, city council speaker contenders met in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx for the second in a series of five public forums.  Council members Jimmy Vacca, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick and Inez Dickens appeared before an energized crowd, in a discussion moderated by BronxTalk radio host Gary Axelbank.

The series of public forums is unprecedented for selection of the city council speaker.  The city council speaker is not elected by voters, but is selected by the 51 members of the city council without any direct role for the public.  Several newly elected council members, including Ritchie Torres and Helen Rosenthal, conceived and organized the series in an effort to change, or at least expand, the way the speaker is selected.  We spoke with Torres and Rosenthal about their purpose in doing so and whether the forums have, so far, met their goals. Continue reading

Speaker Hopefuls First Forum



On Thursday evening, five City council members hoping to succeed Christine Quinn as Council Speaker participated in a public forum.  It was an unusual event, held for an office that only the 51 members of the next council will vote for yet mirroring the format of forums held for countless public offices.

We spoke with each of the five participating council members: Dan Garodnick, Mark Weprin, Annabel Palma, Jimmy Vacca and Melissa Mark-Viverito.  I asked each the same question: what do they think of the Speaker Quinn/Mayor Bloomberg relationship and do  they see it as a good model their speakership and relationship with Mayor de Blasio.  Here’s how each responded.

Dan Garodnick:

Mark Weprin:

Annabel Palma:

Jimmy Vacca:

Melissa Mark-Viverito:

Lhota’s Election Night (Updated x 2)



Here is the full statement that Joe Lhota made to the press after his concession speech.  The visuals on the concession speech were poor for TV/video cameras, and the campaign provided this additional opportunity for TV/video.

Update – Concession Speech:

Here is Joe Lhota’s concession speech.

Update #2 – Primary Victory Speech:

To complete the record, here is Lhota’s complete primary night victory speech.

Lhota Wraps Up (Updated x 2)



Joe Lhota concluded his campaign today, with his last scheduled campaign event a joint appearance greeting voters with former mayor Rudy Giuliani at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue.  Displaying a sense of relief that the campaign is over, and buoyed by the experienced campaigner accompanying him, Lhota appeared to enjoy his time with voters.  Giuliani reveled in the moment, laughing, smiling and joking as greeted well-wishers and posed for photos.

Update #2 – Rudy Unleashed:

Here’s a special look at Rudy Giuliani’s appearance this morning with Joe Lhota.

Update – Mayor Selfie:

Many people took selfies with Lhota and Giuliani.  Rudy Giuliani, no stranger to having his picture taken, shared some thoughts about selflies.

Press Q&A:

Afterwards, Lhota and Giuliani spoke with the press.  Here is their full Q&A.

Lhota Country



Joe Lhota visited Lhota Country Saturday afternoon; Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.  Walking a commercial strip for about an hour, he received a friendly, supportive response.  It was modest in quantity as there were not any arranged campaign events or rallies and the street was not particularly busy, but most people were friendly and supportive, with no visible signs of hostility.

Walking Tour:

Here are a few revealing excerpts from Joe Lhota’s walking tour.

Labor Contracts:

A looming issue for the next mayor are the currently expired municipal labor contracts.  With every city municipal labor contract having expired during the Bloomberg administration, unions are expecting new contracts and significant amounts of retroactive pay.  During a Q&A with the press, I asked Lhota about his role in the budget negotiations of 1995/1996.  Those negotiations produced the so-called “double zero” or “zeroes for heroes” labor contracts, which had no increases for two years.  The day before, when campaigning for Lhota on Staten Island, Rudy Giuliani had praised Lhota for his role in those negotiations.

Joe & Rudy (Updated x 2)



Yesterday Rudy Giuliani joined Joe Lhota on the campaign trail, visiting two senior centers in Staten Island.  Giuliani was the dominant presence, touting his record and the changes he wrought on the City as mayor while slamming Bill de Blasio.  He also fired off the occasional plug in support of Joe Lhota.

Giuliani and Lhota held two press conferences, one at each stop.  This excerpt from their first stop, in Great Kills, captures Giuliani’s message.

Update – Zeroes for Heroes:

In this clip, Rudy Giuliani focuses on the importance of an “independent” mayor, describing “20 years of mayors who’ve been able to say, if it was bad for the city, go to hell.”  In describing the value of a “mayor independent of these unions”, Giuliani noted that  Lhota “helped negotiate” the municipal union contracts that included two years of no raises –  the “double zero” or “zeroes for heroes” contracts of 1995 and 1996.

Update #2 – A Changed City:

The Lhota campaign has not fully figured out how to deal with Mayor Bloomberg.  At times Lhota is complimentary of Bloomberg, even highly so.  At other times, on particular issues, Lhota can be highly critical.  Lhota seems pulled between the reality that he needs Bloomberg-likers as the basic component of any winning coalition he could hope to assemble and his need to offer something new or different.  He’s never embraced the role of an unequivocal Bloomberg supporter, and whether a cause or an effect, Bloomberg has reciprocated.

The late reemergence of Mayor Giuliani reminds us of how the city has changed since he left office.  Among the many ways that it’s changed are the city’s demographics, expectations of how government should operate and in where political power rests.

I asked Mayor Giuliani how he thinks the city has changed since he left office, and how he thinks that may affect the next mayor.