City Council unveils reforms that decrease speaker’s influence

mark viverito council
On Tuesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito revealed a series of rules reforms that she says would make the body more fair and transparent.
Credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito revealed a series of reforms on Tuesday that would limit her own influence on how money is distributed between the members.

The new rules would change how Council members divide a pot of money, one that previous speakers would decide on how to allocate on her own.

Under the new formula, all Council members would get the same amount of money, with the possibility of poorer districts getting up to 25 percent more specifically for anti-poverty measures.

Critics of former Speaker Christine Quinn often accused her of being arbitrary if not vindictive towards fellow Council members, with a few members getting two or three times what some peers would receive.

Brooklyn Councilwoman Inez Barron, whose husband Charles Barron previously represented the same district during Quinn’s leadership, lauded the reforms.

“For far too long, the Council has been subject to over dominance of the Council speaker, to the degree that district constituents have suffered from diminished allocations for important projects and programs in their districts,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

Known for his bombastic rhetoric and unflinching criticism of the Bloomberg administration, the East New York district under Charles’s representation typically received less than his colleagues.

“The new and comprehensive reforms the Council will introduce today are needed to create a more responsive, transparent and inclusive legislative body that can be a stronger force for effective city government,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement.

While the Council may be satisfied with the arrangement, it may be for naught if Mayor Bill de Blasio has a say. During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio — a former Councilman himself — committed to eliminating discretionary spending.

Other changes to the Council’s operations include more power to individual members and Council committee to introduce bills and get them to the floor for a vote. In previous Councils, speakers were known to stop certain bills from being entertained by its members.

Committees will also be given slack in how often the have to meet, from once a month to at least once ever two months.

On transparency, the reforms would require that all discretionary spending be tracked through the city’s Open Data plan. Similarly, the Council would adopt provision to make hearings, transcripts and voting records more publicly available.

The Council’s rules committee is scheduled to discuss the reforms at a public hearing on May 7th.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…


Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…


Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…


U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.


TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…


See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…


Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.


Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.


John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…


Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid


Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…


We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…


Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.


Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.