Bronx Political Buzz: Johnson Owes The Bosses

It’s No Surprise As Council Elects CoJo Speaker

Speaker Corey Johnson at the Podium Minutes After Being Elected to lead the Body — Credit: WilliamAlatriste

Last Wednesday, as expected, the City Council elected Manhattan Democrat Corey Johnson as its newest Council Speaker, 48-1 with two absences. Even the three Council Republican members voted for the openly gay and HIV-positive Johnson. Brooklyn Democrat Inez Barron cast the sole dissenting vote for herself. Barron reasoned that it was time to elect an African American speaker: “It’s our turn!” “White men, white women and a Latina have been speaker, but we have never had a black speaker, in this a city where black, Latino and Asian are the majority.” said Barron in her self-nominating remarks.

Another passed over speaker candidate Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) skipped the Council’s Charter Meeting to attend Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany. The glib Williams told a reporter that he hopped the wrong train. In the runup to the Council vote, Williams had spoken of the importance of electing a speaker of “more color.” Staten Island City Councilwoman Debi Rose was not present for the vote, either.

Speaker CoJo — as he calls himself on Twitter — simply outhustled his rivals by working the county leaders of Queens and the Bronx, labor leaders and his colleagues. Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. — who’s vilified by many LGBTQ activitists — voted for CoJo because he visited him in the hospital two years ago (plus, supported his handpicked candidate Rafael Salamanca in the special elction to replace Maria del Carmen Arroyo in 2016). Johnson mostly owes his speakership to the advocacy of Queens party boss Rep. Joe Crowley.

Speaker Corey Johnson Hugs CM Inez Barron After His Election to Lead the Body — Credit: Jeff Reed

Once Crowley — and Bronx county leader assemblyman Marcos Crespo — lined up the requiste 26 votes to secure the post, Crowley went public with the news. And despite all the rhetoric about electing a council speaker of “more color,” the Council’s black and Hispanic members fell in line behind their county leaders. It was all over but for the racial grandstanding of CM Barron and husband Assemblyman Charles Barron’s ugly heckling of black council members who voted for Johnson.

Council Committee Chairmanships Up for Grabs

Now that the Council speakership in the books, speculation surrounds who will divide the spoils of committee charimanships and leadership posts. Early reports say that Brooklyn CM Robert Cornegy, a failed speaker candidate, may be offered the majority conference leadership post. Bronx Chronicle contributor, Robert Press speculates that Bronx councilmember Vanessa Gibson and Rafael Salamanca, Jr. stand to benefit with plum committee assignemnts from the borough being early supporters. But Press ignores CM Ritchie Torres, who’ll probably score leadership of the Housing Committee (ousting sore loser Jumaane Williams) and CM Ruben Diaz, who’ll look to grab the Aging Committee once again. I’d look for Salamanca to get Land Use, a committee he can lead for the next eight years. Gibson should retain her leadership of the Public Safety Committee (and fold in the Fire Services coomittee) or possibly lead the education committee. Baychester councilman Andy King’s future is in limbo as in late December the Council’s Ethics Committee opened an investigation into alleged sexual harassment.

The Gotham Gazette reported that Johnson named CM Rory Lancman (D-Queens) to chair the Rules committee which will establish the new Council’s rules and the chairs and members of the 51-memeber body’s 40-plus issue committees.

Top Tweets

Where In The World Is Michael Blake

At today’s street renaming ceremony for Rev. Dr. Fletcher C. Crawford Way at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Hoe Avenue in the Bronx.

And earlier this week in Albany for Cuomo’s State of State address and in the 79th Assembly District this week warning about frigid temps and doing a kindness toward Bronx fire victims at a home at Elton Avenue and 159th Street. Blake, who spent time with the family as they waited for other relatives to arrive, says he bought the family a meal.

Where The Pols Are, January 7

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City/Westchester area with no public schedule.

9:45 AM – Mayor de Blasio will appear on 970AM on the John Catsimatidis Radio Show.

12 p.m. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo swears in Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Westchester Community College Hankin Academic Arts Building, 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla.

1:00 PM – Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers Remarks at Council Member Ben Kallos State of the District. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Auditorium, 430 East 67th Street, Manhattan.

Thursday, January 11

6:00 PM – Assemblyman Michael Blake (DNC Vice-Chair) and former city comptroller address the celebrate MLK Day 2018 with the William Lynch Jr. Democratic Club. Our Children’s Foundation, 527 West 125th Street, Manhattan.

Sunday, January 15

4:00 PM – Assemblyman Michael Blake hosts the 79 AD State of the District event. 777 Concourse Village East, The Bronx. RSVP here.

— Compiled by Michael Benjamin

This post has been updated to note additional political calendar events.

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