City Council members gave themselves a 32 percent pay raise in 2016. In exchange for hiking their salaries from $112,500 to $148,500, they agreed to make the council position full time.
New Yorkers would have been better off doubling council salaries and asking members to stay home, but for a few weeks a year to attend to general housekeeping duties. It would have saved the city money and embarrassment.
I once briefly worked in the council and got to witness first-hand what happens when you mix media-hungry legislators, starry-eyed staff members and too much time in a New York City government blender: half-cocked legislation that sounds brilliant in an echo chamber but doesn’t pass the laugh test in the light of day.
Witness three recently announced bills in the council: a ban on work emails after hours; a ban on baloney in city schools — I’m not shakin’ your bacon — and a ban on smoking while walking. (Smoking while standing still would remain A-OK, other than cardiovascularly, of course.)
Where, even, to begin?
Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn) insists his email ban bill “is a serious law,” while it’s manifestly neither. For now. His legislation would make it illegal for public or private employers to expect their employees to check email after regular work hours — in the city that never sleeps.
Good luck with that, councilman.
The baloney ban, which would prohibit other cold cuts as well, is the brainchild of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and introduced by Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx). It seems Adams — who’s rumored to be considering a run for mayor in 2021, presumably on a no-baloney platform — went on a diet and is now an authority on what everyone else should eat. (There’s a head cheese joke in here somewhere.)
I don’t know whether Councilman Peter Koo (D-Queens) is a reformed smoker, but he’s so incensed by the smell of burning Parliaments on city sidewalks that he’s brought his pet peeve to the city’s version of one (small “p”). In a first for a councilman, Koo is huffing and puffing about puffing and huffing. But not to worry smokers: The powerful belching and flatulation lobby is making a stink, citing “slippery slope” concerns.
Meanwhile, strolling pot smokers laugh and laugh. God knows about what. They’ve been giggling ever since decriminalization.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.