Category Archives: Council Speaker

Speaker’s Race, Continued



We spoke with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez about the selection of the next council speaker.  Rodriguez is a member of the progressive bloc and a strong supporter of Melissa Mark-Viverito.  We spoke outside the National Action Network’s House of Justice, following a visit by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner designee, Bill Bratton.

Be sure to watch our coverage of all seven speaker forums, held on Staten Island, in Manhattan at the Talking Transition Tent, Baruch College and New York Law School, as well as 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 Ydanis Rodriguez, Vincent Ignizio, Steve Matteo, Debi Rose, Corey Johnson, Karen Koslowitz, Andrew Cohen, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torrres and Helen Rosenthal.

Quinn on a Successor (Updated)



At a City Hall press conference this afternoon, Capital New York reporter Sally Goldenberg asked outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn for her thoughts on the prospect of the council selecting a speaker who does not support marriage equality.  Here is Speaker Quinn’s response.

Update – Williams:

Earlier, we asked Council Member and speaker contender Jumaane Williams about the weight that his fellow council members should give to his positions on marriage equality and abortion rights in selecting the next speaker.  Williams is alone among the announced speaker contenders in opposing both.

Family Business



Council Member, and speaker contender, Mark Weprin has a long family history in politics and government.  His late father, Saul Weprin, was speaker of the New York State Assembly.  Mark Weprin was elected to fill his father’s assembly seat, serving for 15 years before being elected to the City Council.  Mark’s brother David currently serves in the Assembly, having previously been a member of the City Council.

Following a speaker candidate forum at New York Law School, I asked Mark Weprin how his father’s experience as speaker of the Assembly informs or influences how Mark thinks about the similar position of City Council speaker.  With his brother standing by his side, Mark Weprin shared some thoughts.

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 Muzzio Edition (Updated x 2)

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 Selection: The Bronx Edition (Updated)

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:

Mayoral Mashup: The Mayoral Forum Edition



In our Mayoral Mashup, we talk with political and policy leaders about what they see as the most important issue facing New York City’s next mayor.

On January 24th, the New York Daily News and Metro IAF hosted a mayoral candidate forum, with Errol Louis moderating the six-candidate discussion.  We conducted our own Mayoral Mashup with audience members after the forum, in which we asked one simple question:  What do you see as the most important issue that our next mayor will face upon taking office?  Watch to find out what they had to say.