Brooklyn councilman targets speaker
Already a perennial voice of dissent, City Councilman Charles Barron Sunday kicked off a longshot campaign to replace Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
At a boisterous City Hall rally that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton, Barron – who made headlines last week when he got into a public shouting match with a CUNY trustee at a ground-breaking ceremony – also called for a package of reforms that would weaken the speaker’s office and change the way city funds are allocated.
“When I become speaker I would gladly give all that power to the members,” said Barron(D-East New York. “We are launching a movement from the bottom up.”
Barron was joined by only one of his 50 colleagues: Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who will not be in office when members vote for the speaker next month.
Barron has virtually no chance of winning, and many political observers say it is unlikely a single other member will vote for him.
“He should really save his voice or he’ll get laryngitis,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant. “Voting for Charles Barron gets you nothing: it makes sure your bills don’t pass, you don’t get any money for your district.”
Critics say that’s the problem, arguing that the speaker’s office has too much power and that Quinn has been too cozy with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
A spokesman for Quinn did not respond to a request for comment.
Avella, who lost his race for mayor and is mulling a run for state senate, called her “dictatorial.”
Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), a candidate to chair the council finance committee, predicted Barron would get no support.
“It’s pretty much decided that she’s done a good job and she’s going to stay,” he said.