De Blasio backs speaker on spoils

Speaker Mark-Viverito. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)
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Bill de Blasio thinks decisions about plum Council positions are Melissa Mark-Viverito's business, not his.

"It's evident today all over the city that there is tremendous pride in the historical moment that's been achieved by Melissa Mark-Viverito," he said at a Bronx news conference to promote his education proposals. "For too long there was not Latino representation at the highest levels of this city. Many, many people tried and I know there was intense frustration in our Latino communities that there wasn't that kind of representation."

That came in response to a question about whether he has advised Mark-Viverito, whom he supported for Council speaker, to be judicious in giving out Council committee assignments and coveted leadership posts after a heated contest. Mark-Viverito won the race unanimously on Wednesday, but several members who did not initially support her candidacy have expressed concern she will punish them and reward her loyalists, in light of the tense fight leading up to the vote.

"That's her job, obviously," de Blasio said.

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After De Blasio, a former two-term councilman, lost the race the speaker's race to Christine Quinn in 2006, she appointed him to her leadership team and made him chair of the general welfare committee.

De Blasio, who attacked Quinn's close relationship with Michael Bloomberg during the mayoral race last year, inserted himself into Mark-Viverito's race by persuading council members to back her.

"The only thing I'd caution is I think each year is different," he said. "The conditions are always different. I am certain she wants to work with everyone."

About 20 members held out hope that their preferred candidate, Dan Garodnick, could seize enough votes for victory but he ultimately fell short and conceded, leading to a unanimous vote for Mark-Viverito.

She immediately appointed a Rules Committee of her allies tasked with assigning members to committees, chairmanships and leadership roles in the legislative body.

Garodnick expressed concern the committee is made up only of her loyalists but Mark-Viverito emphasized its membership is temporary and she may expand it.