Greenfield, Gentile, Menchaca to chair key panels
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
To the victors go the spoils. Or plumb committee assignments, in the case of the City Council.
Brooklyn council members, who were among the earliest supporters of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito’s quest to become council speaker, have been named by the new speaker to chair high-profile committees.
Speaker Mark-Viverito and Rules Committee Chairman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) announced the new lineup of council committee chairmen on Tuesday.
Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park) is the new chairman of the powerful Land Use Committee. Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights), who has served on the council for 11 years and is now the legislative body’s most senior member, was named chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee.
Councilman Robert Cornegy (D-Bed-Stuy) will lead the Small Business Committee. The Consumer Affairs Commitee will be chaired by Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick-East New York). Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) is the chairman of the Housing Committee.
Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) is the chairman of the council’s General Welfare Committee. Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick) was tapped to serve as chairman of the Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee. The Civil Rights Committee will be headed by Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D-East Flatbush-Bed-Stuy). Councilwoman Inez Barron (D-East New York) is chairman of the Higher Education Committee. Councilman Alan Maisel (D-Marine Park) is the new head of the Standards and Ethics Committee.
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio supported Mark-Viverito for council speaker and brought the nearly the entire Brooklyn delegation along late last year.
Gentile, a former prosecutor whose committee has the power to investigate a wide array of situations in the city, praised Mark-Viverito and Lander for the “open and collaborative” committee selection process they led.
“Today culminates a process that was both open and collaborative. The back and forth and the give and take of these discussions marked the most inclusive process in which I’ve been a part of in all my years as a member of the council,” Gentile said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in the council going forward as we enter into a new chapter of transparent government – one where all voices have a place at the table and the power to help to shape the direction we take as the legislative body of the greatest city in the world,” Gentile said.
In addition to chairing the Oversight and Investigations Committee, Gentile was named to the council’s leadership team.
Two of the council’s newest members, Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Red Hook-Sunset Park) and Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend) were selected to chair committees, something that is usually rare for council freshmen. Menchaca and Treyger were elected to the council in November and took office earlier this month.
Menchaca will chair the Immigration Committee. Treyger, who with Menchaca, had advocated for the creation of a new committee to oversee Sandy relief efforts, got his wish. He was named chairman of the Recovery and Resiliency Committee. Menchaca is one of the committee’s members.
“The leadership and committee chairs appointed today show that this City Council will be reflective of New York’s diversity and values. These committees will be critical to examining and debating legislation, engaging the public and holding the administration accountable,” Mark-Viverito and Lander said in a joint statement issued Tuesday afternoon following a meeting of the Rules Committee, where the assignments were doled out.
Menchaca, whose mother is a Mexican immigrant, said he is excited to be leading the Immigration Committee. “I am very honored that I will lead, as chair, the Immigration Committee. As a son of an immigrant Mexican mother, it gives me great honor to be taking the lead on Immigration issues at such a critical time in the New York City. I’m ready to hit the ground running and work for every New Yorker,” he said.
Menchaca vowed to push for legislation to increase the quality of life in the city’s immigrant communities, including a bill to authorize municipal IDs for New Yorkers regardless of immigration status and funding a public defender system for NYC residents in deportation proceedings.
Like Gentile, Levin also lauded the council leadership for conducting what he called a “more transparent, inclusive” process.
“This council leadership and its committees reflect the diversity and values of New York City and I am looking forward to begin tackling the tough issues our city faces with my colleagues as we start the new term,” Levin said.