Saturday, March 8th, will mark two months since the new New York City Council held its first stated meeting. At that meeting on January 8th, the 51-member legislative body convened officially for the first time at City Hall, simultaneously took a ceremonial oath of office, and got to work.
The past two months have been eventful, beginning with the council’s selection of its new leadership and a deal to expand paid sick leave legislation, and wrapping up with several oversight hearings and many council members heading to Albany in support of Mayor de Blasio’s “pre-k” plan, one large piece of the council’s 2014-15 State Budget and Legislative Agenda.
Looking back at the new council’s first two months on the job, we see the organization of its personnel, confirmation of campaign promises around policy, rules reform and oversight, and indications of where the city’s legislature is likely heading.
With 21 new members, the council saw a great deal of turnover via the 2013 election cycle. Before those new council members were even inaugurated, they, along with their veteran colleagues, were swept up in the race to be their leader, the council speaker. In conjunction, a slate of five major council rules reforms was drafted and circulated among council members-elect, both new and returning, for initial approval. Over thirty signed on and the proposals, aimed at democratizing the council, were oft-discussed during the speaker’s race.
All this while the newly elected were staffing up, finding office space, planning early initiatives, and, in many cases, being seen by their constituents as on the job already.
In November, as many as seven council members participated in a series of public info candidate forums, and, after a significant amount of non-public politicking, the dust settled on January 8th with Melissa Mark-Viverito standing on the floor of City Hall’s council chambers being unanimously elected to lead the body for the next four years. Adding significance to the occasion was Mark-Viverito becoming the first Latino to hold the position