NYC Council Watch:
Does the Council imagine that the good times will roll on and on? When a downturn hits, it will be interesting to hear the cries of pain when these social service programs are forced to scale down.
Your Watcher was fascinated last February by the tremendous effort and resources that the Speaker’s office poured into her egregious “State of the City” address. As you may (or probably don’t) recall, she built an extremely elaborate website to livestream her speech, which was branded with a special “Lift Every Voice” theme, very much like a political campaign.
As I wrote then, there is no reason for the Speaker of the Council to give a “State of the City” speech. The mayor is supposed to give one, according to the Charter, but there is no such obligation for the speaker. Think about it: does Carl Heastie give a “State of the State” address? No. Did John Boehner give a “State of the Nation” speech? How absurd.
In any case I FOILed the Council to get information on the cost and planning of Melissa Mark-Viverito’s speech. Building fancy websites is not cheap, and livestreaming an event costs a lot too. The Council’s FOIL officer took nine months to answer my request, and what she gave me makes the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails seem like the epitome of transparent, open government. I received scores of pages of emails that were entirely redacted except for the “From” line. About twenty pages were totally black: it was only just possible to see that these pages were nothing more than screenshots of the website. So why were they blacked from view?
So much for the openness Mark-Viverito promised upon her election. Her office’s answer to my simple request to see emails pertaining to the production of the exercise in vanity that was her “State of the City” speech is an embarrassment.