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The chair for the City Council’s powerful Finance Committee could have a Brooklyn state of mind. Three names reported as potential successors to current chair David Weprin include Brooklyn lawmakers Lew Fidler, Simcha Felder and Domenic Recchia.
One keen politico broke it down this way: “It’s really up to the speaker, as part of the Council’s reorganization package she will submit,” the person said. “I assume it will be part of negotiations with various parties, including county leaders, the Working Families Party, various unions, the Council’s Republican bloc, and possibly the Bloomberg administration.”
Fidler, of course, is the lone contender who has actively criticized Bloomberg, whereas Recchia and Felder can hardly be seen as adversarial to hizzoner. But Fidler’s the one with the tightest relationship with Speaker Christine Quinn.
“Who da thunk Fidler would be the great liberal hope?” the person mused.
It would have been a clash of titans that had political watchdogs drooling -- but a bout between southern Brooklyn pols State Senator Carl Kruger and City Councilmember Lew Fidler isn’t going to happen, no matter what some gay advocates are planning.
When Kruger said “No” to gay marriage last Wednesday -- the lone Brooklyn dissenter with the exception of State Senator Marty Golden, a Republican -- gay advocates led by Allen Roskoff, the president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club in Manhattan booed and hissed, claiming that they were going to make sure that the Senator’s 15 years in Albany would come to a close.
When pressed by reporters, Roskoff said that he and others were pushing to get someone to run against Kruger and his $2.2 million war chest.
One person that came to Roskoff’s mind was Fidler, although the Brooklyn pol said he has no intentions of running against Kruger.
“I didn’t run for the seat when it was open,” Fidler told political reporter Elizabeth Benjamin. “Let me just say that while I disagree with some of the things Carl does, we’re getting along well right now. I certainly appreciate the fact that people like Allen Roskoff think highly enough of me that they would look at me as a potential candidate against an entrenched incumbent with $2 million in the bank, it’s just not something I’m willing to do.”
Fidler said that someone had tried to raise the idea at a recent political breakfast, “but before the sentence even came out of their mouth, I told them: No.”
There were a lot of people with their heads hanging low after the Senate voted against gay marriage on Wednesday.
But someone who should really be feeling bad is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to some LGBT political watchdogs.
Apparently when Bloomberg was out and about trolling for votes this summer he mentioned repeatedly that he was going to push Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act.
But when the bill was brought to the floor the votes that Bloomberg promised didn’t materialize, making one LGBT political insider wonder if the Mayor has the political clout he purports to have.
“We were hoping that Bloomberg’s support would sway the vote, but it didn’t,” the insider said. “I bet the Mayor has a little egg on his face right now.”
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton gave a shout-out to State Senator Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush) in a December 2nd post about the marriage equality bill, which the State Senate voted down last week.
After criticizing the defeat, Hilton acknowledged the “amazing senators” who supported the bill.
Hilton quoted Parker as saying, “Stand for marriage equality now because it is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it.”
Councilmember David Yassky is making the rounds this month, saying goodbye to the community groups in his district which meant the most to his professional career.
In an emotional send-off at Community Board 1’s December board meeting, Yassky thanked board members for the “work, support and constructive criticism and friendship” that many members have given him over the past eight years he has served office.
“I overlap three community boards, and this is the one I feel most emotional about saying goodbye to,” said Yassky. “Every board approaches things different; this is a community board. The members take it seriously. This is a board that plays a role that won’t be played by politicians. On things we agree on and disagree on, you have approached your role with seriousness, conviction, and heart. I will miss working with you as a group.”
Brooklyn City Councilmember Charles Barron has made headlines again, this time with the announcement of his candidacy for the position of speaker, in opposition to the current Speaker, Councilmember Christine Quinn of Manhattan.
Barron, who was joined by about 200 supporters on the steps of City Hall when he declared his candidacy on Sunday, said it was less about his ambitions and more about restoring democracy to a legislative body that, he contended, is under the speaker’s thumb, as the speaker has been, more or less, beholden to the mayor.
To that end, he said, his main goal is to revamp the council’s rules, something he is attempting to do with outgoing Queens Councilmember Tony Avella. Barron said he would like to see allocations to districts and projects made based on need or equity, rather than being at the discretion of the speaker who, Barron contended, uses allocations %u2013 as well as committee chair positions and committee assignments %u2013 as a way of controlling members’ votes.
“The speaker has an inordinate amount of power,” Barron contended, asserting that she utilizes it through “a reward and punishment system,” which results, often, in members “not voting their conscience.”
Barron also would like to see rank-and-file councilmembers have more of a say on the city budget. Now, he said, “The speaker has a lot of power in the budget process, with some superficial input from us. That must change.”
What also must change, he added, is the speaker’s role as the mayor’s enabler. The speaker, he stressed, “can be a real check and balance to the mayor’s power instead of being deputy mayor like this speaker is.”
Of course, Barron would clearly like to become speaker and has been working to “build a movement from the ground up.” “Anything can happen,” he said. “I know it’s a long shot, but I’m taking it.”
However, he stressed, “If not me, then the Black, Latino and Asian caucus should come up with a candidate, being the new majority. They ran a candidate when they were the minority. How can they not field a candidate as the majority?”
Should Barron become speaker, that would not only mean that the reins of the Council would be in the hands of a member of the Black, Latino and Asian caucus, but also a representative of Brooklyn, the borough with the most councilmembers, 16, but which has been unable, somehow, to snag the speaker’s chair.
“I don’t understand how we can sit there and not empower ourselves,” Barron said. “I think if we could build a community movement, it could happen, with me or somebody else.”
Political insiders said that it was “highly unlikely” that Barron would get the votes needed to become Speaker.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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