From Capital New York:
Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the leading candidates to become the next City Council speaker, declined to say the Pledge of Allegiance at Council meetings until last month.
Mark-Viverito, an unabashed liberal who was arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest, downplayed her silence, and her apparent change of heart.
"I have always stood for the Pledge of Allegiance," she said in a prepared statement. "I love this country and I love this city. Growing up in Puerto Rico, my dream was to come to New York because I knew it was the greatest city in the world."
Will Sweeney, an unpaid supporter, returned a call Capital placed with her staff on Monday night, and said that until now she was simply unfamiliar with the pledge.
"She's always stood, she's always respected it and she didn't realize," Sweeney said. "She grew up in Puerto Rico and they didn't do the pledge."
But the person who persuaded Ms. Mark-Viverito to begin saying the pledge, Queens Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, told The Insider that Ms. Mark Viverito's reasons for not doing so were actually ideological. Ms. Koslowitz also said Ms. Mark-Viverito's decision to start reciting the pledge came in the context of trying to line up a vote in the speaker race.
According to Ms. Koslowitz, she met with Ms. Mark-Viverito several months ago to talk about the Manhattanite's speaker ambitions, and Ms. Koslowitz questioned why she wasn't saying the pledge. It was an act of protest, Ms. Koslowitz recalled her saying.
"She wanted Puerto Rico to be independent," Ms. Koslowitz said. "She was looking for Puerto Rico to take its independence."
Some in Puerto Rico feel that the country still has a colonial relationship with the United States and should be completely separate. Ms. Koslowitz said the conversation was a "very emotional thing for her and for me."
Asked about the alternative explanation offered by the Mark-Viverito spokesman, Ms. Koslowitz dismissed the idea that Ms. Mark-Viverito had been "unfamiliar" with the pledge, especially since she's an elected official who frequently attends government-related events at which the pledge is recited. "She's a very smart woman whose lived in New York a long time," Ms. Koslowitz said. "She definitely knows what the Pledge of Allegiance is."