Monday, February 1, 2010
Brooklyn Is Riding High With Power
Coney Island City Councilmember Domenic Recchia will be named chair of the Council’s finance committee, according to sources close to negotiations with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Sources said the tipping point for Recchia was the role that Kings County Democratic Party leader and Assembly member Vito Lopez played in negotiations for the position. The appointment would bring Brooklyn one of the two top City Council committee chairs, the other being Land Use, for the first time in eight years. Both the Land Use and Finance Committee chairs come with an $18,000 stipend above a regular City Council members pay of $112,500. The Finance Committee chair plays an important role in negotiating the annual city budget with the mayor. Both Recchia and Lopez refused comment. The Land Use Committee Chair position is expected to go to Queens City Council member Leroy Comrie. In the past eight years, most of the major committees were chaired by Queens council members, whose strength of being the city’s preeminent Democratic machine is showing signs of cracks. The Finance committee was previously chaired by Queens Councilmember David Weprin and Land Use by Melinda Katz, both of whom left the Council after running unsuccessfully for city comptroller.
If the sources prove correct, it signifies a reemergence of the borough’s Democratic Party power statewide. This includes John Sampson’s recent ascension as the State Senate’s Majority Leader, Carl Kruger as chair of the State Senate Finance Committee and Bill de Blasio as the City’s public advocate. The official announcement is expected to be made shortly after Quinn is re-elected to her post as speaker later this week (too late for this paper’s deadline). Her only opponent is East New York City Councilmember Charles Barron, who enjoys only marginal City Council support. Recchia, who is in his third four-year term, previously chaired the Council’s Cultural Affairs, Libraries and Intergroup Relations Committee. Sources said Lopez is also playing a major role in ensuring that other members of the council’s Brooklyn delegation get chairs of the various committees and leadership roles in the City Council. Among those in the running for major leadership roles include Mill Basin and Marine Park City Councilmember Lew Fidler. Both City Council leadership positions and chairs of committees come with monetary perks known as lu-lus. Quinn, for example, gets a $28,000 stipend for being speaker, and in her role gets to pick the chairs and most of the leadership positions. Stipends include $23,000 for being named majority leader, $20,000 for deputy majority leader, $18,000 for chairing the Land Use and Finance Committees, $15,000 for being assistant majority leader, $11,000 for being majority whip, $10,000 for chairing any committee except Finance and Land Use and $4,000 for being named a select/subcommittee chair.
However, is Recchia up for the job? Was this part of a deal with him playing nice with King Bloomberg on term limits.