All Articles Tagged "city council"
There seems to be a few rotten apples in New York City politics. The fallout from State Sen. Malcolm Smith’s alleged bribery scandal even touches Big Apple mayoral hopefuls on both sides of the aisle, reports The New York Daily News.
A Democratic state senator from Queens (though he considered a Republican run for mayor himself), Smith is the former majority leader and was the first African American to lead a legislative body in Albany. He was arrested at his home by federal agents on Tuesday, accused of trying to buy the Republican line in New York City’s mayoral race. The bribery scheme involved an attempt to pay off the city’s five county GOP chairmen in order to run for mayor with that party, explains the The Daily Beast.
He wasn’t the only one arrested; several of his alleged confederates, including several Republican county party leaders have also been implicated. The complaint states that Smith told an undercover agent in a meeting at Grand Central Station to “fork over” tens of thousands of dollars to the local Republican power brokers so he could glide his way into City Hall, The Daily Beast continues.
And this isn’t the first time Smith has been accused of wrongdoing. He’s been the subject of a number of federal investigations. And in an unsavory move, Smith joined a small group of “independent Democrats” who crossed party lines to caucus with the Republicans in December, after Democrats won control of the state senate for the first time in 60 years.
“He’s smooth, likable, but to me he seemed like a guy always one step away from being arrested,” said one Democratic operative to the website.
The arrests have tossed questions about “what went wrong back to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn,” says the Daily News. Quinn is running for mayor as a Democrat.
“The arrests have also cast a shadow on Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn, who has tried to clean up scandal-scarred City Council discretionary funding but has now seen four Council members criminally charged for abusing those funds during her time as speaker” writes the paper.
Over on the GOP side nearly every mayoral contender is now under the spotlight, the newspaper adds. The scandal hurts former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota and grocery magnate John Catsimatidis, who had the other arrested party boss, Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, on his payroll.
Obviously, this will be one New York City election to remember.
Selvena Brooks, a communications specialist for the Service Employees International Union, is running for a vacant seat in the New York City Council’s 31st District. The district covers the city’s Far Rockaway area, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, Brooks is submitting paperwork to run as a “Rebuild Now” candidate, representing a party that’s focused on the Sandy recovery effort.
The New York Observer‘s Politicker blog quotes a statement from Brooks: “I am asking for people’s support on the Rebuild Now line, because we need strong leadership in not only rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but also rebuilding our education system, local economy and neighborhoods.”
Brooks is one of a number of candidates running for the position, which became vacant when the previous official, James Sanders, left for the State Senate. A special election is set for February 19.
Parts of New York and the surrounding area are still coping with Sandy’s aftermath, months after the storm hit in October. It was only last week that Congress approved a government flood insurance program that would pay out $9.7 billion to 120,000 victims of the storm. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House and unanimously in the Senate. One of those who voted against the measure, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, who said the flood insurance program is “insolvent,” according to Bloomberg.
That vote followed a thorough blasting from fellow politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
A vote for a larger relief package was cancelled on the 1st after fiscal cliff talks were finally resolved. The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut had originally asked for tens of billions of dollars in aid.
There will be another vote on January 15, which would bring the aid total to $60 billion.
Say goodbye to condom-less Adult Videos, if that’s your sort of thing, because as of yesterday, The Los Angeles City Council approved a new mandate requiring all actors in pornographic films to wear condoms during any filming that takes place within city limits.
Rather than wasting the time and money it would have taken to put the mandate on the city’s ballot in June, council members decided they should just save the money and approve the measure which was expected to be passed by voters anyway. So, that’s exactly what the council did in a 9-to-1 vote Tuesday.
“This is a no-brainer of an issue,” Councilman Paul Koretz says. “It’s not going to cost us very much to enforce — we won’t spend any more money enforcing this than we do any other law. And in this case, if you don’t follow the law, it will be on film.”
Good point. The new mandate will allow the LAPD to perform spot checks on any set once a film permit is issued and a group of officials from the Police Department, the state’s workplace safety agency, and the city attorney’s office will make recommendations on how to implement the policy, which will become effective in 90 days. Filmmakers will also incur a fee on all pornographic films going forward to cover the costs of enforcement.
As these things typically go, not everyone is happy with the decision. The one Councilman who voted no, Mitchell Englander, says the city shouldn’t waste its resources enforcing a mandate that could push the Adult Videos business out of LA and cost the county even more money, but Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says that’s not going to happen.
“They cannot just pick up their stakes and move to another state. They’d hardly be welcomed in West Virginia or Utah or Mississippi, or even a place like Nevada, where legal prostitution is highly regulated and condoms are required. And we will follow them wherever they go.”
Are you happy this mandate passed? Will it affect our “viewership” at all?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(Washington Examiner) — The D.C. Council kicked off its fall session with swearing over breakfast, mocking each other from the dais, passing a tax increase on high earners and then holding a hastily scheduled meeting behind closed doors guarded by police officers. But after three days marked by animosity and personality clashes, the city’s legislators are hesitant to say they their image has suffered, though political pundits were quick to zero in on that point. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said the tax increase as the first order of business immediately stepped up tensions. The rise to 8.95 percent, effective in October, will apply to those earning more than $350,000 annually.
(Wall Street Journal) — New York City’s mayor should be prohibited in the future from inserting multimillion dollar expenditures into the budget at the 11th hour without public scrutiny, as Michael Bloomberg did with his initiative to help minority youth, several City Council members said Thursday. Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., a Queens Democrat, said he is exploring the possibility of introducing legislation that would bar the mayor from earmarking taxpayer funds for yet-to-be announced policy initiatives after the time for public review has ended. In late June, unbeknown to many council members, the mayor quietly secured $22.5 million in public money for his new program to aid young black and Latino men. The funding was included in budget documents that council members received on the day they adopted the city’s $66 billion budget, but some city lawmakers said they were outraged that there was no public hearing or council briefing on the plan.
(Washington Examiner) — A rising tide of D.C. voters and elected officials is calling on Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. to resign after he agreed to pay the city back $300,000 he was accused of stealing. Petitions are circulating through Thomas’ Ward 5 to initiate a recall vote, and two D.C. Council members have called for him to resign. Other council members, including council Chairman Kwame Brown, have pushed Thomas to strongly consider his actions and the dark cloud they’ve cast on the city’s legislative body. Meanwhile, Thomas’ attorney, Fred Cooke, is creating a legal defense fund, The Washington Examiner has confirmed. The cash will help Thomas cover the costs of defending himself against an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Read more at the Washington Examiner:
(Washington Post) — A week after he unveiled dramatic allegations of corruption against a council member, city Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan on Monday criticized “major flaws” in an ethics overhaul under consideration by the D.C. Council. While calling the bill introduced by council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) a “first step,” Nathan testified in a public hearing that it would create a “competing bureaucratic upstart” that would frustrate his own office’s efforts to root out public corruption. Comments from Nathan and other witnesses are likely to complicate the District government’s efforts to respond to an unprecedented array of city hall scandals. Nathan said the council should “scrap” the bill, which would create an Office of Government Accountability to police ethical matters and an advisory committee to make recommendations on city ethics law and procedures.
(Washington Examiner) — A majority of D.C. Council members pressured Councilman Harry Thomas to step down as chairman of a powerful committee during a closed-door meeting Tuesday, one day after he was accused of funneling to his wallet city dollars meant for kids, several council members told The Washington Examiner. Council Chairman Kwame Brown called the midafternoon meeting. When it was over, Brown would only say there would be a “decision announcement” Wednesday. Council members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said no decision was reached during the meeting, and that it was left to Thomas and Brown to decide the next step.
(Washington Informer) — The city budget that the District of Columbia Council passed recently had something for everyone to be happy with despite a floundering economy and a $322 million shortfall. The D.C. Council passed a $10 billion fiscal year 2012 budget on Wed., May 25 that went through an intense process of horse-trading and compromises. In the end, the budget was not perfect in any D.C. Council member’s view, but it was one that was workable. “The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed a budget that continues to provide necessary services to residents and businesses while restoring deep cuts to the critical human services that the city provides to thousands of men, women and children,” D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said.
(Washington Examiner) — D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown appears to have the votes he needs to pass a budget that eliminates the increase in the income tax rate on the wealthy that Mayor Vincent Gray proposed. Brown told The Washington Examiner two weeks ago that the budget he would present to the council on May 25 wouldn’t include the mayor’s proposal to raise the income tax rate for those who earn $200,000 or more. But it wasn’t clear how he would get the votes. Several council members have historically favored an increase in the income tax rate to prevent cuts to human services, and it seemed likely they would push a measure to get it back into the budget.