Speaker Race Goes Out of Public View
Several public forums later, and we don’t seem much closer to a consensus candidate for City Council Speaker. This was historically a vote that was taken privately by the members behind closed doors, but this year the decision making process was broadened to ( sort of ) include the public. Last week, members of the Progressive Caucus in the City Council met privately to discuss the nominating process. But some are now saying there seems to be a renewed interest in keeping the rest of this out of public view without any more candidate forums.
The push and pull between the caucus and the county leaders remains active. Bronx Chair Carl Heastie and Queens Chair Joe Crowley still want to have some say in who gets selected. Brooklyn is also in the mix, but the the county leadership is a little shakier. Heastie also has other state issues to worry about at the moment, which puts Crowley at the center of this, at least among county leaders. He has met with front runner Melissa Mark-Viverito once and they are scheduled to meet again in a coupla weeks. It was reported that Crowley is warming to the idea of Mark-Viverito, after initially being skeptical of someone who so quickly achieved front runner status.
There was also some skepticism about Mark-Viverito because of close ties to incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio. But now, some are seeing the benefit of a candidate the new Mayor also wants. Nobody wants to push someone who is unacceptable to the Mayor. But for now, it’s a still a bit of a waiting game. Someone described process as similar to Hall of Fame balloting. People come forward with their first second and third choice candidates, then a selection is made based on who seems to have the most consensus. The tension comes because some county leaders believe the caucus is trying to undermine them, and caucus members believe the county is trying to have outsize influence.
As for the other candidates, many believe Inez Dickens cannot find a path to victory at this point. Jimmy Vacca has too many ideological differences with de Blasio, and one source added that cannot seem to control his protege, incoming Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres. Dan Gorodnick is still very much in the mix, including the strong backing of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries who is fast gaining a reputation as a behind the scenes player with his frequent cable TV appearances. Jeffries and Gorodnick used to work at a law firm together. Mark Weprin continues to make his case, and dark horse candidate Annabel Palma is also in the mix.
The process of finding someone acceptable to all in city government shows that there may not be a perfect solution. Sometimes we need to find common ground where there is little to speak. It reminds me of one of my favorite definitions of nationhood, which comes from political scientist Karl Deutsch who conlcluded that nations are formed by “a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours.”
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