Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006: Strange Bedfellows

Quinn to be first female, openly gay Council speaker


January 3, 2006

The city will have its first female and openly gay City Council speaker, with enough backers lining up behind Councilwoman Christine Quinn that she's expected to get the nod at Wednesday's official vote.

Quinn (D-Manhattan), edged out her closest rival, Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), for the influential position. The balance swung in her favor when the powerful Queens delegation, with 13 Democrats, decided to back Quinn.
And this little item:
A play to preside over the powerful


January 3, 2006

In an unprecedented move fueled by money, power and ambition, two Democratic lawmakers in Nassau are expected to join with the Republican minority today to select the top leadership posts in the county legislature.

The political play by Legis. Roger Corbin (D-Westbury) and Legis. Lisanne Altmann (D-Great Neck) would oust current Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), leader of the 10-9 Democratic majority, in defiance of their party leaders.

If successful, Corbin would obtain the powerful presiding officer post he has long coveted. Altmann, as his new deputy, would command a $23,000 raise and leverage in her bid to succeed Thomas Suozzi as Nassau County executive.

Republicans would get consideration of their legislation and a board member on the Nassau Off-Track Betting Corp. Corbin called it "good government," but other Democrats said the takeover was about greed.

"It's a naked political power move, and using good government as an excuse to increase their political power and their paychecks," said Legis. David Mejias (D-North Massapequa).
One progressive move, one regressive move.

While it's clear that a gay woman Council Speaker (think House Speaker, and you'll get an idea of how powerful this position is in the city, with caveats I'll cover in a bit) is a progressive political gain, the fact that the Long Island Democrats are fracturing at this critical juncture is something New Yorkers should be alarmed at. Eliot Spitzer, the gubenatorial candidate-apparent for the Democratic party, must maintain strong support in the suburbs of New York City (Long Island, as well as Westchester and Rockland counties) in order to offset the strong Republican persuasions of the hinterlands of the state.

Give the Long Island Republican chair, Joe Mondello, credit: He's heading out on a high note, of sorts
With a wink and a nod, Republican sources said, Mondello has helped to create dissension among the Democrats by urging Republican lawmakers to back Democrat Roger H. Corbin today in an effort to unseat incumbent Presiding Officer Judy G. Jacobs of Woodbury.

But last Nov. 8 was the clearest evidence yet that the GOP is stumbling, and even Mondello has discussed handing over the party leadership.
Not nearly as satisfying as beating back the Suozzi machine in November, but the GOP on Long Island is running a similar defense that Democrats are running at the Federal level. Take what victories you can, and try to refocus and rebuild.

The Council Speaker race was an intriguing bit of political theatre in the city, however. There were nine possible candidates bandied about, and Quinn is a bit of a dark horse, not least of which for gender and orientation. More to the point, tho, no one knew who the heck she was (unless you lived on the Upper West Side).

Term limits forced the former Council Speaker, Gifford Miller, to leave the post, which created perhaps the single most embarassing repudiation of a politician in New York. Miller didn't even place second in the citywide Democratic primary, despite having name recognition second only to Fernando Ferrer. Ferrer clobbered him. Anthony Wiener, a populist Brooklyn congressman, placed second in the race and positioned himself as the clear front runner for mayor in 2009, should he want it.

Term limits. What an idiotic concept.

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