White men will pick the next speaker of the NYC Council!
ASSEMBLYMAN CHARLES BARRON 60th District, Brooklyn | 12/7/2017, 4:56 p.m.
While Black leaders are having City Council speaker candidate forums on the issues, white leaders are counting the votes and cutting the deals to pick and control the next speaker. White men control the process.
These white men are Joe Crowley, Democratic Party boss of Queens, which has 14 councilmembers; Frank Seddio, Democratic Party boss of Brooklyn, which has 16 councilmembers; Bob Masters, Dan Cantor and Bill Lipton of the Working Families Party; and the so-called Progressive Caucus, which has, I believe, 23 councilmembers. And of course Mayor de Blasio weighs in.
These white men are scheming right now to get the 26 councilmember votes they need to pick and control the next speaker. Deals are being made for committee chairs, central staff positions and a host of other perks. Even if the next speaker is Black, he won’t belong to us; he’ll be controlled by these white men. That’s a damn shame. I know it is true, because I served in the City Council for 12 years.
Here’s why you should be concerned about who becomes speaker of the New York City Council. The speaker has a tremendous amount of power and influence over how the 51 councilmembers will vote for the $80 billion-plus city budget and all land-use items. The land-use vote is how communities are gentrified and how rich developers profit. The speaker has a multimillion budget to give to councilmembers and their communities for capital and expense projects, especially if they cooperate with the speaker. This money is additional to the $5 million capital and $500,000 expense money that is distributed equitably and on a needs-based formula. The speaker can determine if the councilmember’s bill lives or dies in committee, or ever reaches the full council for a vote (unless they utilize the “discharge” option, which councilmembers rarely do). The speaker selects all the chairs of the council committees. The speaker determines how much money councilmembers get for staff and their offices. The speaker determines the floor the councilmembers’ offices will be on and the size of their offices at City Hall. The speaker even determines where the councilmember will sit in the Council Chambers during stated meetings (full council meetings), in the front or in the back, or next to the speaker. This power is far too much influence for one person! The speaker is the second most powerful position in the city. Only the mayor has more power. Now you can understand why these white men in power are so invested in the City Council speaker’s race.
Our only hope is if the 26 Black, Latino and Asian majority councilmembers will stand up to these white men and unite their majority vote, utilize their power and pick the next speaker of the New York City Council. That chance is slim to none, unless there’s a massive uprising of our people demanding that they do so.
We desperately need new leadership and New York City needs a political revolution. That’s the only solution. Food for thought. Forward ever!