Brooklyn Pols Await New Council Assignments

By Stephen Witt

After being elected the new speaker of the City Council last week, one of Christine Quinn’s first stops was to the Shorefront Democratic Club’s post-holiday party. And among the local politicians there to greet Quinn at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on West 8th Street and Neptune Avenue were fellow Councilmembers Domenic Recchia, Michael Nelson and Vincent Gentile. Also in attendance was Queens City Councilmember David Weprin, who chairs the powerful Finance Committee. As speaker, Quinn, among other duties, assigns committee and subcommittee chairs, which according to 2005 statistics, carry stipends of between $4,000 and $8,000 above a councilmember’s $90,000 annual salary. “Basically she [Quinn] was here to say she wants to work with everyone and that she looks forward to working with me on the future of Coney Island and addressing the issues affecting the waterfront community,” said Recchia. Recchia will continue to chair the Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee. That committee carries a $10,000 stipend, according to 2005 Council records. Nelson, who chaired the Small Business Committee in the last Council term that came with a $4,000 stipend, reportedly arrived as Quinn was leaving. “We are very much confident of her [Quinn’s] ability in being elevated to speaker, and liked working with her in the past on such issues as the Health Care Security Act where medium-sized grocery stores in New York City are mandated to provide health care to employees,” said Nelson spokesperson Robert Varley. Varley noted that Nelson and Quinn are both senior members of the Council. Both took the oath of office in 1999. As Chair of the Small Businesses Committee, Varley said Nelson last held a hearing on overseeing micro loans to businesses with less than 15 employees. Gentile said Quinn visited Bay Ridge in 2004 for a community forum on legislation mandating school nurses at parochial and private schools with over 200 students. The two co-sponsored the bill, which subsequently passed the Council and overrode a Mayor Bloomberg veto, Gentile said. While political sources said both Nelson and Gentile backed City Councilmember Bill de Blasio for the speaker position, these same sources said Gentile will get a committee assignment. Gentile replied, “That’s bar stool talk and I’m too busy getting stuff done in my district.” Gentile added that if Quinn wanted him to head a committee, he certainly would be willing. “She has told me she wants to sit with me and review the issues I think are important in this part of Brooklyn and she wants to help me address these issues,” said Gentile. Gentile also noted that in Quinn’s recent speech following her swearing-in ceremony, she emphasized her commitment to being a “five-borough speaker.” A Quinn spokesperson confirmed a published report that stated the speaker’s office is in the process of filling committee chairmanships and that it “is a huge jigsaw puzzle.” The committee and subcommittee chairs as well as leadership positions will be completed by the January 18 Council session, the spokesperson said.

More from Around New York