For a decade, remaining a close ally of the Queens County Democratic Party meant that Charles Meara, the chief of staff to two City Council speakers, could earn an annual salary almost equal to the mayor.
But if Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito is crowned the next speaker of the City Council, Mr. Meara and a host of other county loyalists may be swiftly axed. Cleaning house is standard for incoming speakers–when outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn took over, she immediately fired about a fifth of central staff. But sources say they now expect an even greater exodus if Ms. Mark-Viverito is elected speaker, stretching far beyond what would be doled out if her top rival, Councilman Dan Garodnick, somehow prevails in the end. (Mr. Garodnick is Queens and the Bronx’s counties’ candidate).
That reality, council insiders say, is Ms. Mark-Viverito’s willingness to clean house if she wins, potentially decimating the City Council’s current central staff, which numbers around 300 and is filled with individuals who scooped up choice posts through their ties to the traditional county organizations after the last speaker’s race. Queens in particular could suffer; sources say that county organization was the greatest beneficiary of patronage posts.
Mr. Meara, the chief of staff to Ms. Quinn and Mr. Miller, is likely to be on the chopping block, sources said. Mr. Meara, who did not respond to a request for comment through a council spokesman, is the brother of Queens County Chair Joe Crowley’s personal lobbyist. In 2012, Mr. Meara earned $208,884–more than Ms. Quinn, according to records compiled by the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY website.
Another Crowley loyalist, Ms. Quinn’s executive legislative coordinator, Ramon Martinez, who made $206,190 in 2012, is also considered vulnerable–though one council insider said Mr. Martinez, who was Mr. Crowley’s one-time brother-in-law, could be “saved.” (It’s not clear if Ms. Mark-Viverito would have any motivation to preserve a high-ranking Queens loyalist.