On 10/7/09, the New York Post published a story featuring Green city council candidate David Pechefsky‘s ambitious plans to reform the New York City Council by challenging the autocratic power of the council speaker and the mayor:
Who says that Green party candidates are nothing but tree huggers?
David Pechefsky, who is running on the green party line in Park Slope’s 39th District, was neither cuddly or coddling to his election opponents when he went on the attack against Democratic nominee Brad Lander last week on — of all things — his thoughts on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the power her post has over city legislators.
Pechefsky saw Lander’s statements at a recent Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats meeting to be an “acquiescence to politics as usual in NYC.”<!– ad(quigo_intext_narrow,/news,news_story) sports_story_lower
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When asked how he would take power back from the Mayor and the Speaker if elected, Lander said more turnover in the city council would “reposition some of the power of the speaker” and said that the Speaker’s stranglehold on the council can be shaken sometimes, like it was when Lander and several like-minded community activists pushed to make changes to the city’s 421A development laws.
Pechefsky heard something different.
“Mr. Lander clearly stated that he felt that reform of the Council was a dead issue for the next term,” Pechefsky said in a statement. “Very concrete steps can be taken to challenge the power of the Speaker and the Mayor and it appears that my opponent is just ready to accept the status quo. Without a push for reform, you aren’t likely to have good outcomes on district specific issues like the Gowanus canal and Atlantic yards and the Council’s bad practices around the budget will continue.”
Lander refuted Pechefsky’s comments.
“It is not true that I said Council reform was a dead issue in the next Council,” he said. “As I have made clear throughout the campaign, I plan to work for an ambitious array of Council reforms.”
“I did indicate that there would be a less dramatic change in the Council now than there would have been had term limits not be extended, a move which I strongly opposed,” the Democratic nominee continued. “But I am proud to be part of a group of new Council nominees who won Democratic primaries, many of whom are supported by the Working Families Party, and several of whom beat incumbents, who will be working for both process reforms and progressive results.”
“For most residents of our community, the most important thing is not insider Council politics, but how the next City Council member can deliver real results on issues that matter — stronger public schools, livable neighborhoods, affordable housing, good jobs, small businesses and a more sustainable city,” he continued. “I strongly believe that we can have good outcomes on these critical issues.”
Pechefsky, who worked for twelve years in New York City government, said that no Council person who voted for setting aside term limits will get his vote for Speaker.
His choice of Speaker candidate must have a “commitment to reform the bloated committee structure, currently used to reward loyal Speaker devotees.”
Pechefsky also wants to shake up City Council committees, which he believes should be “reduced and the stipend for the chair of the committee be eliminated.”
“These committee changes need to be coupled with giving the committees some real power-the ability to set their own agenda and hire their own staff, power that they are currently denied,” Pechefsky said.
The back and forth is a far cry from a pleasant croquet match that Pechefsky, Lander and Republican candidate Joe Nardiello was supposed to have before the event was rained out. A rematch was never scheduled.
More back and forth was expected as voters prepare to choose between Lander, Pechefsky, Nardiello, Conservative candidate George Smith and Libertarian candidate Roger Sarabo at the polls on November 3.