No concession in NYC council speaker fight
New York City Council member Dan Garodnick Thursday clung to his bid for council speaker, saying he would do better preserving the independence of the city's legislative branch than Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's ally, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Mark-Viverito, based in East Harlem, has statements of support from 30 of her 50 peers -- more than enough to win the Jan. 8 vote for one of city government's most powerful positions.
But Garodnick called the race "close" and indirectly chastised de Blasio's influence.
"This council will be independent of the mayor and will be respectful of the mayor and will help him deliver on his agenda and will also stand up to him when he's wrong under my leadership," Garodnick said at City Hall. "And that is a case that I'm making to colleagues."
Rep. Joe Crowley, the Queens County Democratic Party leader, said he stood behind Garodnick "100 percent."
"A lot could happen between now and then," Crowley said of the vote for speaker.
Asked about de Blasio's behind-the-scenes support for Mark-Viverito, he said, "I'm no stranger to inside baseball, nor is the mayor." He said de Blasio earlier in his career was "someone who was very, very comfortable in the backroom."
Crowley said he did not know what de Blasio or his aides had said to council members supporting Mark-Viverito, but presumes they were "very persuasive things."
At an event Thursday in Crown Heights, de Blasio denied he had made any promise to any council member in exchange for their support of Mark-Viverito.
"I hope my observations are persuasive in general," de Blasio said.
Several groups, including the Working Families Party, the Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Make the Road New York and NYCLASS, announced their backing of Mark-Viverito and congratulated her. The Hispanic Federation lauded her as being the first Latina who would rise to the position.
For her part, Mark-Viverito Thursday expressed confidence that she had clinched the post, saying that she's "very proud obviously to have made history" and she's "humbled" by her colleagues' support.
Meanwhile, with less than two weeks until he takes over, de Blasio said he was still trying to find a schools chancellor -- an appointment he called "one of the most important decisions I will make in these next four years."
He unveiled a website, upknyc.org, and a commercial narrated by his wife, Chirlane McCray, to drum up support for his signature campaign issue: taxing the rich to expand universal prekindergarten and after-school programs.