It seems as though a certain new Mayor has been playing Santa Claus in order to get his preferred City Council Speaker.
According to sources close to the situation, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has promised a number of committee leadership posts to City Council members in order to guarantee that Melissa Mark-Viverito is named Speaker come Jan. 8.
While members of the Progressive Caucus and Mark-Viverito herself have declared victory, our sources say that the decision is far from final, and there could be some backlash against the tactics the caucus has been using.
Both the Mayor and the leaders of the Progressive Caucus have been pressuring Council members to join them, threatening to take away prized committee assignments if they don’t comply.
Sources say the Progressive Caucus was originally split, 12-9, between Mark-Viverito and Dan Garodnick, with Garodnick getting the support of County Leadership.
That’s when the calls started, with the Progressive Caucus telling Council members that they had the votes, and that if a Council member pushed back, those committees would be gone.
“If you’re not with them, you’re not getting a committee,” QConf was told.
Among the promises made to the Queens delegation, Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) would be named Majority Leader. Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) would head up the Finance Committee and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) would get the Education Committee.
“The other three we know, because they were openly talking about it,” a source said.
Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) was also reportedly promised a committee chairmanship in exchange for his support of Mark-Viverito.
Sources within the real estate industry, who supported Ulrich in his most recent election battle, have expressed disappointment with Ulrich. The sources say that they feel betrayed, since Ulrich promised he would stand against the Progressive Caucus, but instead went back on his word for a promised chairmanship.
QConf was also told that David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) was offered the Land Use Committee as a means of swaying Brooklyn.
While many expect Mark-Viverito to win the Speaker seat on Jan. 8, it’s possible the Progressive Caucus could experience some backlash. Not all the 21 members of the caucus seemed pleased with the way business was being done.
Sources say that Mark-Viverito’s supporters have been double- and triple-counting votes, intimating that the self-appointed Speaker-elect may not have the votes she says she does.
There’s still two weeks before the City Council sits down to officially choose a new Speaker. The next few days could be an interesting one within the City’s political sphere.