Greenfield’s role on the City Council affirmed, but rocky
For a short period of time Wednesday night, it appeared as though Councilman David Greenfield, one of the City Council’s most powerful members, had been removed from both his deputy leader title and his spot on the Budget Negotiating Team.
Even though that perception was soon rejected by the council, there is tension surrounding Greenfield's role, with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito going as far as to recently disinvite him from a bi-monthly leadership meeting.
A story published by City & State just before 5 p.m. reported that Greenfield, the chair of the Council’s influential Land Use Committee and one of the more outspoken Democrats in the council, had been removed from the posts.
The story went on to suggest the move was a possible retaliation from Mark-Viverito, who has been angry with Greenfield over his public opposition to a now-vanquished bill related to horse carriages in the city.
“During a meeting of the New York City Council leadership on Tuesday, City Councilman David Greenfield was stripped of his deputy leader title and his place on the budget negotiating team, multiple sources said,” the story read.
Despite the claim, multiple attempts to reach Greenfield went unanswered.
Within an hour of the story being published, Eric Koch, a spokesman for the speaker, sent a statement to reporters denying the report.
"This story is incorrect. Council Member Greenfield is a valued member of both leadership and BNT. The Speaker appreciates diversity in opinion on her leadership team,” Koch said in the statement.
Greenfield, seen walking out of City Hall alongside Ramon Martinez, the council’s chief of staff, declined to speak with reporters, instead referring to the statement released by Koch.
Within the hour, the story appeared to have quickly ballooned, only to fizzle out. But several members of the council, familiar with conversations in the leadership meeting on Tuesday, confirmed there has been some level of acrimony lately between Greenfield and the speaker.
According to the members, during that Tuesday meeting, Mark-Viverito said Greenfield had been “disinvited” from the discussion, but never specifically talked about completely removing him.
“David has been very aggressive behind the scenes,” said one member who would only speak on condition of anonymity as to not antagonize the speaker. “Yesterday, she announced he had been disinvited and that he was no longer going to be at the meeting, but I don’t know that the title was officially revoked.”
Removing Greenfield from his posts would have been politically risky for the speaker, whose members describe her as “not being vindictive.”
Greenfield is set to play a key role as the council considers Mayor Bill de Blasio’s rezoning plan to build more affordable housing in the city. Removing him from the post would have set up a negative narrative for the council, which is in the process of vetting and possibly changing parts of the mayor’s housing proposal.
Although the council’s protocol is to follow the opinion of the member whose district is being rezoned, because the mayor’s plan will affect different parts of the city, it will instead be voted on as a single proposal.
“There was some talk about removing him, but I think Melissa knows he would have gone to the press and this would not have been good for them,” another member familiar with the conversations said.
Greenfield has notched a couple of recent legislative victories, most notably the passage of controversial piece of legislation that will pay for private security guards at public and religious schools, which drew the ire of some members in the council upset that tax-payer dollars would go to private institutions.
The Brooklyn councilman was also prominently quoted in the press when the mayor’s plan to shrink the horse carriage industry fell apart. Greenfield’s comments, which hailed the council for tabling the mayor’s horse proposal, went against Mark-Viverito’s attempt to portray her members as a unified front.
Asked about Greenfield’s rumored and short-lived demotion, a member would only say, “let’s just say one person’s ways can eventually catch up to them.”