Monday, December 30, 2013

The Council speaker race : Where are the reforms ?

The Editorial Board of The New York Times finally weighs in on some of the controversies surrounding the Council speaker race, admonishing mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's strong-arming the Council to select Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next speaker.  "The mayoral meddling in Council business was unsurprising but unseemly," The NYTimes Editorial Board wrote, adding, "especially from someone who used to accuse Speaker Christine Quinn of being too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg."  (Mr. de Blasio Picks His Speaker * The New York Times)

But The NYTimes Editorial Board stopped short of noting the campaign finance investigation and the possible ethics investigation involving one of Ms. Mark-Viverito's lobbyists, Scott Levenson.  Further, the Editorial Board seemed to be resigned to accepting Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership without demanding any reforms to end the backroom deals that traditionally shape the selection of the Council speaker.  There are nine more days before the City Council meets to select its next speaker.  Before then, let's hope that The NYTimes Editorial Board strengthens its demands for reforming how the Council speaker is selected, so that the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists can be eliminated, irrespective of whether County bosses and lobbyists from either the right or the left are the ones trying to game the system.
In an editorial by Robert George published in The New York Post, the mayor-elect was again called a hypocrite for criticising the outgoing Council speaker for subjugating herself and the will of the Council to Mayor Bloomberg.  "The man who overtook current Speaker Chris Quinn in the Democratic mayoral primary largely by suggesting she was Mayor Bloomberg's toady will soon be a mayor himself - with his own self-chosen go-fer serving as speaker."  (Bill de Blasio's council coup * The New York Post)
Like The NYTimes, The NYPost didn't call for reforms to end the backroom deals in the Council speaker race.  Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito's rival for speaker, Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, was trying to woo some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters, noting that "political maneuvering has been going on for months," but The WSJ report also stopped short of calling for reforms to end the backroom deals that determine the speakership.  (All-Out Bid To Change Speaker Vote * The Wall Street Journal)

A separate column by Fred Dicker published in The NYPost reported that Gov.Andrew Cuomo was said to be opposing Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership.
"The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn't want to see the city turned into a People's Republic of New York at the same time he's trying to make the state at least look like it's business friendly," an anonymous political observer told Mr. Dicker.  ( Cuomo pushing to block de Blasio speaker pick Mark-Viverito * The New York Post)

After weeks of taking a leading position on examining the clear campaign finance violations and possible ethics violations, The Daily News has since become quiet.  (No to Mark-Viverito * The New York Daily News )(Keep the bums out * The New York Daily News)  

Reportedly, some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters are unions, but outgoing Speaker Quinn also had union support.  It's not about who supports speaker candidates :  What prevents speaker candidates from conducting their leadership campaigns with transparency, compliance with regulations, and with integrity ?  How can we restore faith in the Council speaker, if the candidates seeking to succeed Speaker Quinn play by the same rules of the broken political system as did she ?  (Lobbyists Turn Out for Mark-Viverito's Swearing-In Ceremony * Politicker)

Now that Democrats are at war with one another over a blatant power grab in the Council speaker race, can someone with some authority call for reforms to end the backroom deals and the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists in politics, especially in the Council speaker race ?  If the good government groups are silent and the political reporters and the Editorial Board of The NYTimesabdicate their responsibility, can we count on the editors of The Daily News to be our public advocate ?


The Shifting Balance of Power in NYC Politics ; On One Side Are County Party Bosses and Big Business, On Other Side Are Lobbyists And Special Interests

Both Sides Play By The Same Playbook Of The Broken Political System : Flouting Or Even Breaking The Rules : Both Sides Exploit Citizens United ; The Kraken Bears Down On Democracy

But where are the reforms to end the cynical trap of corruption ?

Rather than reacting with resignation that the Council speaker can only get picked by making backroom deals, using lobbyists that trigger campaign finance investigations, possibly violating ethics rules, and inspiring shaming editorials from the city's leading newspapers, what can progressive reformers demand in this stead ?

All these newly-converted "progressives," but nobody's coming forward to propose a truly progressive reform agenda to fight the corruption of backroom deals ?

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