Under Cover, Week of Jan. 16, 2014

Six-pack celebration
Councilmember Margaret Chin sure knows how to TIE one on.

TIE funds may be the only type of political money where the incumbent is at a disadvantage, but Chin nevertheless was able to garner a whopping $32,213 — more than triple the amount of all but one of her Council colleagues (whom she almost tripled), and even surpassing Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

The obscure fund stands for transition and inauguration entities, and incumbents are prohibited from using any of the money on transitions since they are not starting a new job.

Seth Barron of City Council Watch, who first reported on Chin’s startling numbers, wrote a City & State column saying it looked like Chin was using some of the loot to pay two campaign workers, Trip Yang and Francisco Bravo, post-election bonuses of about $5,000 a piece, a definite TIE no-no.

We see why he thinks that since most of Yang’s money was listed as his campaign monthly salary and some of Bravo’s was for campaign consultation.

Yang denied the charge.

“It’s not a bonus,” he told us. “The [Campaign Finance Board] does not allow bonuses, and we comply with the C.F.B.”

He said he was paid to organize… wait for it, six inauguration ceremonies.

Chin is refusing to comment on the matter and her aides are not answering questions either.

“All funds related to inaugural activities, including payments to staff, were raised and reported in compliance with Campaign Finance Board procedure and are a matter of public record,” according to a statement emailed by a Chin staffer who did not want to be identified.

As a law-abiding councilmember, Chin only has another two weeks to celebrate since the TIE money can’t be spent after Jan. 31.

Bygones?
There may be — at least publicly — no more hard feelings between City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Jumaane Williams, who were at odds during the council speaker’s race that just concluded, although Williams could not have helped matters by issuing a prepared statement misspelling Mendez’s name.

The two briefly shared the stage on Jan. 5 at one of those Margaret Chin inauguration ceremonies.

Although Williams, after giving his congratulatory remarks, left the stage almost immediately once Mendez began her speech, she started off by making a rather friendly reference to Williams’ musical talent. “Did Jumaane sing?” Mendez asked the crowd, smiling. “Oh, he didn’t? That’s a real treat, you know, hearing Jumaane sing.”

Mendez, who represents the East Village and part of the Lower East Side, took a public shot at Williams in late November when she said she wouldn’t support him in the speaker’s race because he opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.

“As an out lesbian, it’s problematic for me that the person who would be representing this body is anti-gay marriage, anti-a woman’s right to choose,” Mendez said then in an interview with Capital New York.

A day after the inauguration, in response to our question about his relationship with Mendez, Williams released a terse statement in which he did not allude to anything that went on during his bid to become speaker. “Councilmember Rose [sic] Mendez and I have a great relationship, and I look forward to continuing our work together,” he said.

Mendez’s office did not comment.

Moments after Williams and Mendez spoke on Sunday, a political staffer, speaking anonymously, said that Williams simply can’t afford to lash out against critics of his socially conservative views. “If he still held grudges against anyone for that, he wouldn’t have any friends left,” the staffer said.

Landmark Decision
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been continuing to fill out his administration since taking office two weeks ago, but he is yet to make that landmark appointment.

We’re speaking literally about chairperson of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is still headed by Robert Tierney, a Bloomberg appointee.

At a Landmarks hearing in December it sounded to us like Tierney might be interested in staying on in the next administration, but prominent architect Gregg Pasquarelli told us last week that the word on the design street is that there’ll be a new commission chairperson.

It didn’t seem to us like he knew who it would be, but the Wall Street Journal reported that the leading candidates are Ronda Wist, Carol Clark and Chris Collins.

Glick on the move
Assemblymember Deborah Glick ”is moving up in the world — literally.” As of Thurs., Jan. 16, her new office is on the 20th floor of 853 Broadway in Suite 2007, up from the 15th floor. She says phone and internet service will be spotty the rest of the week. Her phone number is the same.

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One Response to Under Cover, Week of Jan. 16, 2014

  1. Chin has no ethical compass.

    During her first council race, this paper reported that her only Asian-American opponent was mysteriously attacked without provocation by a couple of Asians on the streets of Chinatown one night. A week later he dropped out of the council race, leaving Chin in the enviable position of being the only Asian in the race.

    The Seth Barron piece you refer to also noted that she used over $10,000 of her "inauguration" money for "fundraising", something else illegal under the campaign laws. (By the way, council members never have an inauguration for a second term, because it is illegal.)

    Her response, "no comment" is so typical. Your sister paper The Villager also reported the same comment this week when she was asked her opinion of the community's successful lawsuit against the NYU gargantuan expansion: "No Comment". Other elected officials and every community group was ecstatic, except Chin and her real estate cronies on the board of NYU.

    Is is possible to recall a council member, for this one is an embarrassment and hazard to her constituents?

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