The next NYC Council speaker


| lpenner@queenscourier.com |

NYC Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick, Mark Weprin, Jimmy Vacca, Inez Dickens, Jimmy Van Bramer, Annabel Palma and Jumaane Williams are all potential candidates to succeed outgoing NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Money alone can’t always buy love or the chance to become the next New York City Council speaker. Neither can inheritance or a famous family name, the late New York State Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. All NYC Councilmember Mark Weprin has to do is ask his older brother, New York State Assemblymember David Weprin about becoming NYC Council speaker.

In 2001, Councilmember-elect David Weprin threw his hat in the ring as a candidate for NYC Council speaker. David, like Mark, made campaign “donations” to various Democratic Party County organizations, local Democratic clubs and fellow Council candidates. David made the rounds to all the fundraisers and properly genuflected to the “powers” that be. In the end, Queens Democratic Party Chairperson supported the Manhattan County Democratic Party’s candidate for NYC Council speaker — Gifford Miller. David got the consolation prize of NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson.

In 2005, Miller ran for mayor in the Democratic Party primary and lost (even with the active support of David Weprin). Once again, David Weprin made the usual campaign donations to Democratic Party political organizations, clubs and candidates. Once again, he lost the race for NYC Council speaker (this time to Manhattan Councilmember Christine Quinn) but kept his consolation prize as NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson. In 2009, he set his sights on becoming the next NYC comptroller. He came in dead last in a four way Democratic primary contest. In 2011, David Weprin lost a Special Election to Republican candidate Bob Turner to fill the vacant seat of Congressmember Anthony Weiner.

Today, his younger brother, Mark Weprin, is running for NYC Council speaker. He has already made campaign donations of $53,500. These include the Bronx and Brooklyn Democratic Party County organizations, the Working Families Party, along with various other NYC Council candidates. Many are old friends from his days in the State Assembly. This included $7,000, most of it doled out to members of the Assembly who ran for the City Council. Many went on to win their races and have a relationship with Mr. Weprin from his old days as a member of that body. Recipients include Assemblymember Rafael Espinal and Alan Maisel of Brooklyn, Councilmember Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn, Costa Constantinides of Queens, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx, Mark Levine of Manhattan, and Manhattan Assemblymember Michael Kellner. (Source: New York City Campaign Finance Board). Will the third time be a charm for a Weprin to become NYC Council speaker? Don’t bet on it. Outside of the overlapping State Assembly and NYC Council seats, neither David or Mark are able to win the support of either voters, Democratic Party leaders, elected officials or many fellow NYC Councilmembers. Don’t be surprised if current Queens Congressmember and Democratic Party leader Joseph Crowley supports a candidate for NYC Council speaker from another borough. He will trade this support for two key Council Committee Chairpersons – Finance and Land Use just like he did in 2001 and 2005.

It is the five Democratic Party County leaders — State Assemblymember Keith Wright of Manhattan, Frank Seddio of Brooklyn, Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens, State Assemblymember Carl Heastie of the Bronx and John Gulino from Staten Island who will meet behind closed doors to decide the next NYC Council speaker. Loyal NYC Councilmembers from each of their respective organizations will follow their advice and vote for the candidate they sponsor. In return, everyone will share in the spoils of victory. Besides the Speaker’s office, there are chairpersons of various Council committees, employment opportunities for both the Speaker’s office and various supplemental staff assigned to councilmembers along with the usual lulus for chairing council committees and funding for future member items. Everyone will get a piece of the pie at taxpayers’ expense.

Once again, a Weprin, this time younger brother Mark, will get a consolation prize. The Weprins always seem to be the bridesmaid but never the bride!