Mayor Bramson, speaking today on his WVOX radio show, disclosed he would not ask the City Council to consider an interim appointment to the District 3 seat vacated after the unexpected death of James Stowe. On WVOX last week, City Manager Chuck Strome announced their would be a Special Election in District 3 to serve out the remainder of Stowe’s unexpired term. By State law, the winner of the special election would not be seated until January. As a result, District 3 will be without representation for 5 months.
Under the City Charter, the City Council has the authority to appoint an interim member of the City Council until January.
With Stowe, the Democrats controlled the City Council 4-3. With Stowe’s passing, the Council is now deadlocked 3-3. Bramson recognizes that the Republicans will not support a reliably Democratic interim appointee because they would be giving up control of the Council going into the 2010-11 election cycle; all seats on the City Council are up for election in November 2011.
Between now and January a number of controversial issues will be coming up including a budget that will almost certainly require large-scale layoffs and large tax increases, the expiration of the Forest City MOU on Echo Bay, the re-expiring of the already expired Cappelli LeCount Square MOU, not to mention the Mayor’s GreeNR Sustainability Plan — a plan, it can now be said, that Jim Stowe labeled “crap”.
Bramson told Bob Marrone that he expects there will be a push on the City Council in November to immediately seat the winner of the Special Election. In Bramson-speak, this means he fully expects the Democrats to win the seat in November and then browbeat a 3-3 Council to agree to seat a Democrat months early, making it 4-3, a deal he cannot get today but he figures he can get in November.
Some political observers in New Rochelle have suggested that if Republicans can field a viable candidate for District 3, they would be wise to call the Mayor’s bluff and put forward a resolution immediately that formally commits the Council to seat the winner on November 3rd. They Mayor, who has never met a position he did not want to avoid taking, will either have to agree then take his chances in the election or disagree and then explain later why he opposed seating the winner in August but now supports seating the winner in November.
Marrone pressed the Mayor on this point, asking him to explain why the City Council did not appoint a replacement to Stowe immediately but the Mayor strenuously ignored the obvious reason — that the Council is now split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats making agreement on a replacement unlikely — and claimed that the time of the vacancy was relatively short and sort of blurring over the rest. This is not much of an argument either. When Rhoda Quash died in office, leaving opening the same District 3 seat, the City Council moved immediately to replace her with Bea Brown. Brown served out the remained of Quash’s roughly 9 month term.
The District 3 seat will now be open from August 2010 to January 2011 of about 5 months. So, is this issue 9 months v. 5 months or the reality that the Democrats cannot simply designate a reliable Democrat replacement and thus prefer to have no replacement. In other words, for political reasons, the Mayor and the Democrats have decided it is better that District 3 have no representation on Council for 5 months than have to sit down and reach a compromise with Republicans.
While a very important interview on WVOX, the news extracted from Bramson by Marrone was almost eclipsed by the hilarity of Bramson lackey Lou Felicione, another WVOX host and Bramson bootlicker, who called into the show (as usual) to praise the Mayor and then promote the appointment of Greg Varian to the District 3 seat. Mr. Varian was recently defeated by Republican Sheila Marcotte in a June 22nd Special Election for the County Board of Legislators seat in District 10 that was vacated by Vito Pinto after Pinto took a position in the Astorino administration.
Felicione promoted Varian as an independent thinker and close friend of Stowe. Varian is a nice enough person and was certainly close to Stowe but Varian is a Democratic District Party Leader and a partisan political operative, hardly the sort of free-thinker portrayed by Mr. Felicione. One other small problem. although Varian lives in District 3 he led the fight against including the predominantly white Halcyon Park neighborhood where he lives into a “black opportunity district”. After the lawsuit which led to the redistricting of the City of New Rochelle, District 3 was carved out as a “black opportunity district”. While there is no requirement that the Council Member be black it would certainly be odd if the Democrats replace their one black representative on Council with a white man who opposed having his white neighborhood included in a “black” district and leaving Richard St., a Republican, as the only black member of Council. Ironically, St. Paul won running in a “hispanic opportunity district” by defeating Roberto Lopez by 17 votes, a Hispanic who was effectively abandoned by the Democratic Party. Go figure.