Friday, April 18, 2014

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Council Members Want More Say Over How City's Legislature Operates

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Members of the City Council are already looking past the general election and are proposing new rules to give them more of a say over how the city's legislature does business. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

A majority of incumbent and incoming members of the City Council are looking for more control.

They want more say over what bills get voted on and over how much money they get to bring home to their districts.

"Right now, too much politics goes into who gets how much money for discretionary funds," said City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley of Queens. "It needs to be equitable."

Right now, it's all controlled by the speaker, a powerful weapon that can be used to award some and punish others. Whether that changes all depends on who the next speaker is.

Some eyeing the job have signed onto the proposal.

"The ultimate goal of the reforms is to empower members, to make the body more democratic," said City Councilman James Van Bramer of Queens.

Others have not.

"I am concerned about the future," said City Councilman James Vacca of the Bronx. "I am concerned that this council be made a strong body vis a vis the mayor and vis a vis our right to do legislative oversight and budgeting."

"There is some I support, some that need to be changed, some that need to be tweaked," said City Councilwoman Inez Dickens of Manhattan.

There are at least eight council members interested in the speaker's post. Some are seeking it more aggressively than others.

"I am running for speaker, and I'm talking to my colleagues and looking to get their support," said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and the Bronx.

"I'm actively seeking re-election and I'm working for trying to get Bill de Blasio elected," said City Councilman Mark Weprin of Queens. "Once that election happens next week, then there'll be plenty of time to talk about leadership."

"You get into electoral politics so you can make change, but my focus is not on that at the current time," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn.

Dan Garodnick is considered a front-runner. There is also Annabel Palma of the Bronx.

There are other variables. Would the next mayor weigh in? The council's relatively new progressive caucus also plans to flex its muscles.

"I believe the presence of so many progressives working closely together will have a very real influence on the next council," said City Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn.

Technically, the speaker's race does not begin in earnest until after the general election. But one thing is for sure: council members will have plenty of candidates to choose from. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP