Council Speaker's Attack on Mayor May Give Her Perception of Independence

Fiery rhetoric from Melissa Mark-Viverito Thursday surprised the local political world because it was the first time the City Council Speaker attacked the mayor, often thought of as a close ally, and the move may give the speaker the perception of independence she has long wanted. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Partners in government, standing side by side, press conference after press conference. Rivalries were friendly and even reserved for team outings.

So Thursday's comments from the City Council speaker - slamming the mayor and telling him, effectively, to back off - came as a surprise.

"I'm not going to allow anyone to save face at the expense of this Council," City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Thursday.

"Listen. I think she was putting the mayor on notice and saying, 'You can't walk all over the Council,' especially as you're trying to sort of, what seemed like he was trying to save a modicum of face," said Democratic consultant Risa Heller.

Since her election back in 2014, Mark-Viverito has often stood in the shadow of the mayor, unable to shake the perception she is as an all-too-eager ally. Turns out the private car service company Uber could give her independence the biggest lift.

"This Council decides what bills will be discussed, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table," Mark-Viverito said.

This isn't the first disagreement between the two sides of City Hall. Take the hiring of 1,000 new police officers in this year's budget.

But these two often resolve disputes behind closed doors. This time, it was different.

It was not the product of some long-simmering animosity, but the speaker's allies contend it was a defense of the city's oft-dismissed legislative body. She just wanted credit when credit was due.

"Make no mistake. The City Council and our speaker, with her leadership, are what brought us to this day," said City Councilman James Van Bramer of Queens.

"She's just telling it like it is," said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan. "At the end of the day, it's the City Council, and she as the speaker of the City Council, who decides what bills are brought to the floor."

Most do not expect this to turn into some longstanding feud between the mayor and the Council speaker, but others say look out for a more independent streak coming from the other side of City Hall.

The mayor and the speaker did sit down on Friday. In a statement, the mayor's press secretary addressed the recent spat, saying, "Working together with the Speaker and our City Council partners, we have accomplished much for New Yorkers over the past 18 months -- from two balanced, responsible budgets to expanding paid sick leave to creating a municipal ID card to adding more police officers. We look forward to continuing this collaboration to lift up more New Yorkers, tackle income inequality, and move our city forward."

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