Local Pols Nab Prime Spots
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced committee appointments last Wednesday, Jan. 22, doling out powerful positions-and yearly stipends-to several local lawmakers after a contentious speaker’s race.
After breaking from the Queens Democratic Party in supporting Mark-Viverito, Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26-Sunnyside) walked away with a plum appointment as Majority Leader.
The council’s Rules, Priviliges & Appointments Committee also tapped Van Bramer to co-chair a Budget-Negotiating Team, which will help formulate the city’s budget process, according to a statement from Van Bramer.
“I look forward to working with all my colleagues to ensure the adoption of budgets that reflect our progressive agenda,” he said.
Along with the Majority Leader post comes a $20,000 stipend in addition to a $112,500 base salary. In the past, Van Bramer has donated it to community groups in his district of Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.
“I will continue to donate that (stipend) to charity,” Van Bramer told NY1 last Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The second-term council member is the only Queens lawmaker appointed to council leadership. Van Bramer was also selected to chair the Cultural Affairs Committee and sit on the committees on Finance, Health, Parks & Recreation, Public Housing and Transportation.
Julissa Ferreras (District 26-East Elmhurst) was chosen head the powerful Finance Committee, which oversees fiscal policy and the city’s $50 billion budget. She will be the first woman and first person of color to hold the post in city history.
“At a time when women hold less than 20 percent of the top leadership positions in the national finance industry, this momentous appointment marks an exciting milestone not only for myself and my colleagues in government, but for all New Yorkers, all people of color and all young girls who never before thought that they can grow up and shatter glass ceilings,” Ferreras said in a statement.
The council member was also appointed to the committees on Consumer Affairs, Cultural Affairs, Public Safey and Standards & Ethics.
Daniel Dromm (District 25- Jackson Heights) will lead the Committee on Education, which oversees the Department of Education and the Schools Construction Authority.
Dromm spent 30 years as a public school teacher and day care center director before attaining public office.
In a statement, he said his priorities would include providing universal pre-kindergarten; reducing class sizes; integrating teachers into the decision-making process; limiting emphasis on standardized testing; and establishing a more supportive environment for gay students.
Several education advocacy groups, including The NY Coalition for Educational Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform issued statements supporting Dromm’s selection, Jan. 22.
Dromm will also sit on the committees on Civil Rights, Civil Service & Labor, Immigration and Oversight & Investigations.
Council newcomer Antonio Reynoso (District 34-Williamsburg) was selected to head the Sanitation Committee.
Recently, at Bushwick’s Community Board 4 meeting, Reynoso said one of his major initiatives would be preventing displacement in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Days later, he was formally named to the committees on Housing and Land Use, as well as the Sub-Committee on Zoning and Franchises.
His other appointments include seats on the Education, State & Federal Legislation and Transportation committees.
Reynoso told this paper he would use his postiion on the Education Committee to advocate for universal Pre-K in Albany.
Former Assemblyman and freshman City Council Member Rafael Espinal (District 37-Cypress Hills) will chair the Consumer Affairs Committee.
“As chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee it is my hope to work on issues that are affecting all New Yorkers, such as paid sick leave,” he said in a statement.
During a campaign debate last August, Espinal pledged reforms to limit the regulatory burdens placed on small business owners and called for tax incentives for hiring.
The council member told the Times Newsweekly that it’s too early for legislation, but he has met with the mayor’s office about reducing fines on small businesses.
Espinal will also work on the committees on Health; Housing & Buildings; Immigration; Public Safety; Rules, Privileges & Elections; and State & Federal Legislation.
Once again, Elizabeth Crowley (District 30-Middle Village) will chair the Committee on Fire & Criminal Justice, and sit on the committees for Community Development, Cultural Affairs, Mental Health and Women’s Issues.
“I am excited by the opportunity to continue chairing the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, which is being expanded to include oversight on the Office of Emergency Management,” Crowley said in a statement. “Over the next four years, I intend to work hard to ensure these departments are doing the job that New Yorkers depend on.”
Karen Koslowitz (District 29- Forest Hills) will chair the Committee on State and Federal Legislation, which advises those bodies on the passage of laws affecting New York City.
“I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for choosing me to serve as Chairman of this very important Committee, which provides us with a clear and steady voice in Albany and Washington DC on issues that are critically important to the well-being of the residents of New York City,” she said in a statement.
Koslowitz will also sit on the Committee on Aging, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Housing, Small Business and Women’s Issues.
Tapped to lead the Committee on Veterans was Eric Ulrich (District 32- Ozone Park), who recently caught flak from conservative veterans’ groups for backing Mark-Viverito’s election as Speaker.
“Veterans have always been near and dear to my heart and I am proud to now be in a position to help those who sacrificed so much for our city and nation,” Ulrich said. “I consider it an honor to be appointed chair of the Committee on Veterans. Clearly, the Council has demonstrated a new approach to governing, one that is open, transparent and bi-partisan. I am truly grateful for the confidence the Speaker and my colleagues have in my ability to work with them on these and other important issues.”
The Queens Republican was also selected for the committees on Environmental Protection, Housing & Buildings, Recovery & Resilliency and Small Business.