Common Cause/NY and Human Rights Project Call on Speaker Candidates to Reform Council Rules

For Immediate Release:


February 14, 2013

Susan Lerner, CC/NY 212-691-6421

Erin Markman, HRP 646-602-5600 x5626

Common Cause/NY and Human Rights Project Call on Speaker Candidates to Reform Council Rules

Together with the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, Common Cause/NY yesterday sent letters to the prospective candidates for NYC Council Speaker, calling on them to address the over-centralization of power in the Speaker’s office. Common Cause/NY and HRP identified potential candidates based on published reports, they include: Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, James Vacca, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Mark Weprin.

“The retribution and reward system of the City Council has had a deleterious effect on the functioning of democracy, leaving member item funding and committee assignments subject to the discretion of the Speaker alone. Despite continuing efforts to create a more open environment, the reality still falls short. Ideally, all candidates for Speaker would have an appreciation for the autocratic effects of the current system and seek to reform it. Common Cause/NY and the Human Rights Project look forward to a lively public discussion regarding the adoption of best practices for an effective and representative City Council,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

“The New York City Council, as the lawmaking body of our city, has the potential to significantly advance the human rights of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the political power accrued by the Speaker’s position has allowed a single individual to impede the progress of important legislation, even legislation that has majority support in Council , overwhelming public approval and the momentum of powerful organizing. New Yorkers expect and deserve a functional legislative process, and the current structure has failed them. Together with Common Cause/NY we look forward to transparent discussion and real reform,” said Erin Markman, Policy and Research Coordinator of the Human Rights Project.