There were several resolutions introduced at last night's informal Common Council meeting, but the one that inspired the most discussion was the resolution regarding the designation of Common Council majority leader and minority leader.
Next year, the Council, as it has many times in the past, will be made up exclusively of registered Democrats. The question is: How do you have a minority leader when there is no minority? The proposed resolution, which Council president Tom DePietro said "came from NYCOM" (New York Conference of Mayors), addresses that problem.
First, the resolution clarifies that "party membership shall be determined by party membership of the Council member at the time of commencement of the most recent city election cycle." This eliminates the silliness that happened in 2020, when Calvin Lewis and Shershah Mizan, registered Democrats both, decided they would "identify" as members of the Working Families Party so they could elect Rebecca Wolff, then registered as WFP, as their leader.
The resolution further states: "In the event that all members of the Council belong to the same political party, the entire Council shall hold one vote to designate the Majority leader and another vote to designate the Minority leader."
It also addresses a situation which has never occurred in recent memory: "If there are two members who belong to different minority parties, they will split the two-year term for minority leader, unless one cedes the right to the other."
At Monday's meeting, Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) said he did not think NOPs should be excluded as a minority, arguing that many voters in Hudson are registered NOP (no official party), and they should be represented by an alderman who is registered NOP. DePietro told him, "NOP is not a party." The resolution states: "Members registered to votes as "no party" status shall be precluded from serving as Majority or Minority leader."
Alderman-elect Margaret Morris (First Ward) suggested that, because candidates can run on multiple lines, those aldermen who had done so need to declare their party and decide if they wanted to be part of the majority or the minority. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) interrupted her, declaring, "That's not how we do it." When Morris tried to continue, DePietro told her, "You're not making sense, Margaret."
Speaking as a member of the public, Ronald Kopnicki asserted that not being registered in a party should not exclude someone from serving as majority or minority leader. He also asked, "Why is this being brought before the old Council instead of the new Council?" DePietro responded, "To avert possibility that there will be confusion in the future." DePietro then moved on, leaving hands raised.
Kopnicki's question about timing is a reasonable one. Why is this being considered by a Council 60 percent of which will not be returning in 2022? The resolution indicates that it is amending the 2021 Rules of Order, but it will take effect at the January 2022 organizational meeting. It would seem that the 2021 Rules of Order would terminate at the end of 2021, and the new Council should be adopting its own rules of order. This action seems like an attempt by the current Council to limit the power of its successor.
Here's another curious thing about the future majority and minority leaders. This afternoon at the HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) meeting, Sara Black, who is the HCDPA coordinator, said, "We're still not sure who the minority leader is." (The Common Council majority and minority leaders serve ex officio on HCDPA board.) Her statement seems to imply that the identity of the majority leader is already known to some, more than two weeks before the members of the new Council are inaugurated.
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