Who is “running” to become the Next Speaker for the next four years?
- Mark Weprin (Queens)
- Melissa Mark-Viverito (Manhattan) þ
- Inez Dickens (Manhattan)
- Annabel Palma (Manhattan)
- Daniel Garodnick (Manhattan)
- James Vacca (Bronx)
- Jummane Williams (Brooklyn)
þ = my choice for Speaker in 2014
What is happening…
- The 51 members of the New York City Council will elect one of their own as Speaker in January replacing Speaker Christine Quinn, who will no longer be on the Council.
- Several council members are seeking the position, which is arguably the second most powerful in City Government, behind the Mayor.
- In partnership with community groups, newly elected and returning members of the city council held 5 community forums to allow voters an opportunity to hear from those seeking the Speakership. Voters are encouraged to attend and to give input to their city council representative prior to January’s speaker vote.
What the Speaker does…
- The Speaker of the City Council is the public representative and voice of the 51 member body
- On behalf of the council and its members constituents, the Speaker is often responsible for acting as a check on the mayor
- The Speaker sets council meetings and agenda, and presides over full council meetings
- The Speaker decides which proposed legislation (bills that council members want to become laws) is allowed to go to the floor of the city council for a vote.
- The Speaker decides how a large sum of City dollars is allocated to individual council member for expenditure in their districts. This sum is known as the councils “discretionary funds”
- Currently, the Speaker can appropriate portions of this sum to the different councilmembers as he or she sees fit. These allocations are known as “member items” and very greatly.
Potential Changes to the Speaker’s role…
Led by several recently re- elected council members and signed onto by a total of 31 of the 2014 council member, reformed this group is seeking highlighted by the following
- Take the politics out of Member items by allocating discretionary funding for Council Districts on a fair and objective basis (either equally, or via a need-driven formula, disclosed publicly in advance)
- Ensure fair consideration of legislation, by establishing an independent legislative drafting unit the City Council and making the legislative process more transparent
- Dedicate a greater share of Council resources to enabling Members to provide effective services to the public