Archive for the tag 'city council'

25 mph speed limit

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation that reduces the citywide speed limit on residential streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph, a move that lawmakers and advocates said would, if properly enforced, dramatically reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

After state legislators voted in June to allow the city to lower the speed limit, the Council approved the bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, that aims to slow vehicles on streets where speed limits are not posted – meaning roads overseen by the state Department of Transportation (such as expressways and parkways) will not be affected. The reduction is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to dramatically curb traffic injuries and deaths over the next decade.

“Reducing the default speed limit in New York City is the lynchpin of Vision Zero,” Greenfield said in a statement to the press.

City officials said they plan to launch a three week publicity campaign about the speed reduction on Monday, according to the New York Times, and the new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

The nonprofit Transportation Alternatives also backed the Council’s move, saying “if properly enforced, the new speed limit could prevent more than 6,500 traffic injuries in the next year and cut the annual number of pedestrian fatalities in half.”

The group urged de Blasio to quickly give his stamp of approval to the bill – which the mayor is expected to do and sent out his own statement praising the Council’s vote – and stressed that the NYPD and city Department of Transportation need “to send a stronger message about the dangers of speeding by continuing to improve traffic enforcement and public information initiatives.”

“Unsafe driver speed is the number one cause of traffic deaths in the city, killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined,” Transportation Alternatives said in the same statement. “A pedestrian hit by a driver going 25 mph is twice as likely to survive as a person hit at 30mph.”

While Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood as well as Flatbush and Ditmas Park, was in Cleveland for the vote, he said in a statement Tuesday he would have voted against it.

“I fully support the need to reform traffic laws in New York City, and the majority of proposals offered in ‘Vision Zero,’” Williams said. “When the issue of the citywide reduction previously came before the Council, I voted to give the City discretion on lowering the speed limit, since I believed the City deserved to make this decision. At the same time, I believe that this legislation is too broad in the form passed today and I would have voted against it.”

“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the City’s various neighborhoods and major arteries and assess, with specificity, where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” Williams continued. “For example, it makes sense to carve out school zones as necessary places to have a lower speed limit, as many young people populate these areas. Many side streets and other ‘Slow Zones’ in my district would also benefit from a lower limit. In fact, I would vehemently support lowering the speed limit on many residential streets in my district – with some areas even lower than 25 mph.

Williams goes on to say that he will “continue to support increased enforcement, through speed cameras and stepped-up enforcement of current traffic rules and regulations, and have consistently done so.”

Another local member of the Council, Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and Gravesend, voted in favor of the bill, but expressed concerns about enforcement.

“There’s little dispute that there has been a serious number of traffic-related fatalities and there’s no dispute that speed kills,” said Treyger. “The issue that I continue to raise is the issue of enforcement … and making sure it does not become a mechanism for increased revenue, like for these cameras where some of them are problematic. I think it should be for the true intention – to save lives.”

Treyger pointed to the controversial placement of a speed camera on Shore Parkway next to a Belt Parkway exit ramp, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, as an example of “gotcha” enforcement to be avoided.

“To me, ['gotcha' enforcement] undermines the entire program [of Vision Zero]. The intention should not be to harm working families who are just trying to get home,” he said.

Another area pol praised the legislation as potentially life-saving.

“Lowering the speed limit can drastically reduce a serious fatality. My district has a high population of seniors and reducing the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.  No one should ever have to experience the loss of a loved one to a traffic accident,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

To see a copy of the bill, you can go here.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Mark Treyger:

Council Member Mark Treyger, Chairman of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, is pleased to announce the passage of City Council legislation he sponsored to provide relief from tax increases on properties that were damaged during Superstorm Sandy and subsequently rebuilt to its prior condition. As a result of today’s law, property owners will not be penalized with unfair tax increases simply for performing critical repair work to their homes.

The issue arose several months ago, when storm victims began being hit with increased property assessments and real estate taxes as a result of necessary repair work to repair damage caused by the storm. The impacted property owners facing higher tax bills included several residents of Sea Gate and Coney Island who contacted Council Member Treyger for assistance. He has since worked with Mayor de Blasio and his City Council colleagues including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Vincent Ignizio to have this legislation passed as quickly as possible. Thanks to today’s legislation, most property owners who had their 2014 fiscal year property assessment reduced from 2013 as a result of storm damage, but then increased for fiscal year 2015 due to repairs, are eligible for this partial abatement.

“Victims of Superstorm Sandy were being victimized all over again by unfair increases in their property tax bills. To make matters worse, this was happening at a time when many families’ budgets are stretched to the maximum and every dollar counts. To ask someone to pay higher taxes for necessary repair work is patently unfair and only adds insult to injury for these New Yorkers. I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, our State Legislature and the City Council recognized the urgent need to immediately address this issue and came to a solution that is fair for all sides,” said Council Member Treyger.

Homeowners whose fiscal year 2015 assessment exceeds the fiscal year 2013 assessment that reflected the property value prior to the storm are covered under this law. The abatement will appear on impacted homeowners’ July property tax bills. In cases where the repair work resulted in an increase in the building’s square footage, this law provides for a decrease that is proportional to the increase in the building’s size.

For more information on eligibility requirements, contact 311 or the NYC Department of Finance at nyc.gov/finance.

Members of a City Council committee are pushing a resolution introduced last week that calls for the city’s 59 community boards to adopt sweeping reforms, including term limits.

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations met on March 3, drawing up the list of recommendations to improve the recruitment and function of the boards.

The local boards, each made up of 50 unpaid, volunteer members, have long drawn criticism for their appointment processes, which many say are politically motivated. Boardmembers are appointed by the borough president at the recommendation of local councilmembers, leading some to criticize their independence.

According to the Daily Eagle, the recommendations include:

  • Term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members.
  • Online application and technology infrastructure.
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all applicants.
  • Requiring reappointment applications with evaluation of attendance, service and participation.
  • Ban on political appointments; specifically staffers of elected officials and executive board members of a political party.
  • Filling vacancies within 30 days.
  • Improved outreach and recruitment focusing on diversity, geography and experts.
  • Youth representation by 16- and 17-year olds as public members of youth committees and as full board members.

While the existence of the community boards are mandated by the City Charter, each board maintains its own bylaws dictating how they function. Some boards, such as Community Board 13, representing Coney Island and Brighton Beach, have term limits for its officers, while others, like Community Board 15, representing Sheepshead Bay, do not.

In Sheepshead Bay, community board recruitment and membership became an issue during the recent City Council race. At a September debate, the Democratic candidates discussed the local board’s diversity as well as term limits and the ways to depoliticize the appointment process.

Chaim Deutsch, who went on to win the election, said he hoped to strengthen and diversify the board, but didn’t offer details. He did note that he was opposed to term limits for board members.

“If you have board members that are there and following the processes and going to meetings and following up, and where you have various issues like zoning issues and they actually go down and look at the homes they’re having a hearing on – that person should stay,” Deutsch said at the time.

Sheepshead Bay’s Randazzo’s after the flood.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced over the weekend that Build it Back payments were finally in the mail, and that some construction projects are now underway. The city’s new director of Housing Recovery, Amy Peterson, elaborated on the numbers at a hearing on Monday, saying only $100,000 in reimbursement checks have been mailed, and only six construction projects have begun.

That’s out of 20,000 applications.

The numbers came out during a hearing of the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, headed by Councilman Mark Treyger. The seven-hour long hearing was spent blasting the program, for which even its new leadership agreed needs a jumpstart.

Metro reports:

The city’s new Director of Housing Recovery Amy Peterson admitted to the Build it Back’s blunders and “overly complicated” process but promised to turn it around.

“Early missteps, unrealistic assumptions and overly complicated processes have hindered rebuilding,” she testified to the Council.

Peterson, who started her tenure on Monday as well, vowed to make up for the setbacks.

“We’re going to make sure the money gets out to people,” she said.

Peterson added that another $800,000 worth of checks will be mailed this week.

Treyger and others used the opportunity of the first public hearing on Build it Back to detail the program’s shortcomings.

“Poor communication, endless bureaucracy, inadequate resources, and other problems have thwarted the building of even a single home,” he said, according to Brooklyn Daily.

The new chief attributed the problems to a lack of resources, and burdensome bureaucracy, according to the Daily report.

“This process includes multiple different steps in which customers interface with variety of different contractors and specialists,” she said. “From a process standpoint, the continued passing of responsibility from one contractor to another has had the effect of diminishing accountability.”

… Other problems were the result of federal requirements, Peterson said. The program was designed to not repeat the sins of past disaster relief programs, which were rife with contractor fraud and shoddy construction.

“The intent was for clients of the program to feel assured that construction would be done correctly, to the resilient building standards, and that they would bear no risk that funds would be reclaimed or extorted,” she said.

The Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association, at their meeting last night, said that after a long silence neighbors have started receiving calls from the program. Officials are setting up appointments to discuss the options for which the victims qualify, and compensation packages are being drawn up.

But the group also said that too many questions about the process remain unanswered.

“There are still a lot of things we don’t know about it,” said civic president Kathy Flynn. “We’re getting a lot of questions … we don’t have the answers. And every time they send out another e-mail,” it seems the terms have changed.

Flynn said that although the signs of movement are positive, she’s not optimistic.

“I’m not counting on them to give me anything. If I count on it, it’ll be another five years. Or forever,” she said.

Councilman Mark Treyger is pushing new legislation that would require snow plows to have flashing lights and a make beeping noises, following the plow-related deaths of two Brooklynites this winter.

The two victims were killed by plows within two weeks of each other. On February 3, an elderly man was struck and killed by a plow in Brighton Beach in front of the Oceana complex. On February 13, a pregnant 36-year-old woman was killed by a plow clearing out the parking lot of a Borough Park market.

Treyger’s bill, first reported on by the Daily News, will require plows to have lights and “a loud, distinctive noise” to let pedestrians know when a plow is approaching.

“You’re dealing with low visibility,” he told the paper. “If we can buy a few seconds for these pedestrians to give them time to react, this could save a life.”

The new regulations, however, would not have prevented the two deaths cited. Both were killed by private CAT-style vehicles repurposed for snow removal. Treyger’s bill only affects Department of Sanitation snow plows, and other plows contracted by the city.

The new rules might have helped the man who was knocked off his feet by a tsunami of snow created by a speeding Sanitation truck in February. The man, walking on Coney Island Avenue, was knocked down and injured by a wave of snow that also broke the windows of a nearby storefront, and he is now mulling a lawsuit against the city. He said he never saw the truck coming.

UPDATE (March 28, 2014): Councilman Treyger’s office got in touch to note an error int he Daily News version. In actuality, there are two bills on the table, extending this new regulation to privately-operated plows as well. See the statement below:

Councilman Mark Treyger (D – Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Seagate, Gravesend) announces new legislation to require all vehicles engaged in the removal of snow on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and pedestrian walkways to be outfitted with flashing lights and audible warning systems. This legislation, which follows the recent deaths of three pedestrians who were stuck and killed by snowplows in Brooklyn, would apply to plows operated by the City of New York and privately owned plows.

“Snowplows are vehicles we deploy during times of emergency” asserts Treyger. “We should be treating them like emergency vehicles. Furthermore, during a snowstorm, you’re dealing with low visibility and it is easy for pedestrians to be blindsided. This is precisely what happened to Min Lin, a pregnant mother, who was killed in Sunset Park this past winter. Anything we can do to buy a few seconds forpedestrians and give them time to react could save lives. The state of Ohio has already passed a similar bill and it’s high time New York City caught up on this important issue.”

Oriental Boulevard near Falmouth Street, the scene of an accident that left a 4-year-old dead in 2010. (Source: Reader submission)

The following is a press release from the offices Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), at a joint hearing of the Transportation and Public Safety committees of the New York City Council, called upon Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to install a traffic light at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, a busy intersection adjacent to a playground, where fatal automobile accidents have occurred. As a result, Manhattan Beach residents have identified this intersection as requiring a more comprehensive traffic-control device than the current yellow-blinking signal.

(Previously on Sheepshead Bites:

“The people of Manhattan Beach have long recognized the need for traffic-calming initiatives, including a traffic light, at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, where recent traffic accidents on this busy thoroughfare have claimed two lives,” Councilman Deutsch stated. “Drivers have repeatedly complained that the flashing-yellow signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue is more confusing than helpful. As such, the existing blinking signal merely exacerbates an already hazardous environment for motorists and pedestrians alike.”

“Due to its close proximity to Kingsborough Community College, Leon Goldstein High School, MJHS Menorah Home & Hospital, Manhattan Beach Park, and private homes, it is imperative that the city take the necessary steps to heighten traffic safety along Oriental Boulevard.” said Council Member Deutsch. “Further tragic reminders are not necessary to emphasize the need for safety initiatives along Oriental Boulevard, and a traffic signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue would be a good place to start.”

Council Member Deutsch supports many of the initiatives proposed in the Vision Zero plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has pledged to take decisive and sustained action to reduce street fatalities and injuries. In the past year, 291 New Yorkers have been killed in car crashes, and 15,465 pedestrians and bicyclists were injured in collisions with automobiles. Unfortunately, some of these collisions, and even some deaths have occurred in recent years near Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. In 2010, a four-year-old boy was struck and killed by a city bus, and, in 2008, a Kingsborough Community College student was killed riding his motorcycle. Both accidents occurred on Oriental Boulevard.

During a Joint Transportation and Public Safety City Council Committee hearing with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on February 24, Council Member Deutsch reminded the city agency of Oriental Boulevard’s infamous traffic safety history, and the obligation it had to replace the flashing-yellow light at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue with a traffic signal. At the hearing, Commissioner Trottenberg agreed that the flashing-yellow light might cause confusion.

“I look forward to working with Commissioner Trottenberg, and the Department of Transportation to ensure that the goal of Vision Zero, to eliminate traffic deaths and increase safety in New York City, quickly becomes a reality,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “With that in mind, I implore the DOT to heed the call of the residents of Manhattan Beach to install a traffic signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, and implement other traffic safety initiatives along Oriental Boulevard to insure that no other residents suffer the same heartbreaking fate as the young lives already lost.”

A home in Seagate after Sandy. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency held its first hearing last Thursday in Coney Island and during the meeting New York City Housing Authority revealed that housing projects that were affected by Superstorm Sandy would be stuck with shoddily built boilers that often break until some time in 2016 – by which time they’ll have cost taxpayers at least $120 million.

Last week, Councilman Mark Treyger, who heads the committee, told us that he hoped to find a solution for these boilers since they were not made to be used below 40-degree weather. We wrote:

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

But instead of a solution, the committee was told by NYCHA’s Executive Vice President Raymond Ribeiro that the boilers wouldn’t be going anywhere until 2016, according to the Daily News.

Some of the boilers repeatedly broke down earlier this year during the coldest days of the season. The reason for breaking down, the Daily News reported, is because they were made in places like Texas and Tennessee and were never intended to withstand the cold of the north. But after Sandy left the normal heating system utterly destroyed, they couldn’t find anything better in time for the winter season and they now don’t have the funding to replace the boilers.

The Daily News reports:

NYCHA says it can’t move forward until its insurers and the federal government commit to specific funding. Ribeiro added that NYCHA’s insurers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have told the Housing Authority that they’ll only pay for boiler repairs, not replacements.

On top of being unreliable, the boilers are also expensive. During our interview with Treyger he estimated that each boiler costs about $50,000 a month. There are 24 such boilers across the city being used by the Housing Authority, which comes out to $3 million a month. By 2016, the boilers will have been used for 40 months and come out to $120 million for rent and fuel, according to Daily News’ calculations.

To combat the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents, NYCHA has used other forms of heating to keep the boiler’s pipes warm, including jerry-rigged kerosene heaters to warm the boilers’ pipes.

A home in Seagate after Sandy (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Fifteen months since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in Brooklyn’s coastal neighborhoods, the city’s response has been a far cry from awe-inspiring. Sure, the numbers are staggering: $60 billion in Congressional aid to the region; $5.2 billion distributed; dozens of agencies, and a stack of recovery-related legislation with a word count yet to be assessed.

There’s another jaw-dropping number: zero. That’s the amount of money that has reached property owners through New York City’s $644 million Build it Back program.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Gravesend, Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Sea Gate, is hoping to use the newly formed committee he chairs, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, to reboot the process and get residents and business owners the help they need.

Near the top of his agenda is an effort to reopen the application process for Build it Back, and expedite payouts to encourage confidence in the program.

“It’s absolutely crucial that they reopen the process and do a better job at outreach,” Treyger told this publication. “The low number of applicants and the fact that zero people have been helped so far, that’s just unacceptable.”

Treyger said he sat down with Build it Back representatives last week for a status update on their work. They reported to him that the 11224 area code that covers Coney Island and Sea Gate only saw between 800 and 900 applicants – a far cry from what he said is thousands of homes impacted by the flooding.

The recently inaugurated councilman said he believes the city failed in its outreach efforts.

“I was amazed by that number because I know in that zip code there were thousands of people impacted by Superstorm Sandy. And that spoke volumes because it shows that the city did not do adequate outreach into diverse communities in our city. And that’s just one zip code,” he said.

The polyglot district he represents has high numbers of Russian, Chinese and Spanish speakers that the city didn’t do well in reaching, he claims.

“They must reopen but this time we really have to get this right. We have to partner with community organizations, local media, they have to reach out to different language media. We really need to do a much better job of reaching the diverse communities of our city,” he said.

Treyger is currently drafting a letter to the de Blasio administration officially requesting the process be reopened.

But the local pol also acknowledged that “recovery fatigue” among homeowners may cause them to be reluctant to apply, coupled with the latest headlines that money is not yet flowing.

“I think once money starts flowing and people see progress with their applications, that will instill confidence in applying. Some folks have no faith and were discouraged, and once they see progress I think that will motivate people to apply,” he said.

The administration is currently in the midst of the comment period for its fifth amendment to the proposed action plan for community development block grants for disaster recovery, the federal program funding Build it Back. While the plan includes an increase in funding for Build it Back, representatives present at a public hearing last night at Sheepshead Bay High School could not say if more would be needed to reopen the process as Treyger proposes. The mayor’s office has not yet returned a response to our inquiry.

Build it Back aside, Treyger is hoping to use his role as chair of the Council’s Recovery and Resiliency Committee to make Sandy recovery a top priority for the de Blasio administration.

The committee will hold its first-ever hearing in Coney Island on Thursday, February 27, at 10 a.m. at the Carey Gardens Community Center (2315 Surf Avenue). He said he hopes holding it in a Sandy-impacted zone will boost resident participation.

But the agenda at the first meeting is more pressing than reopening Build it Back. It will focus on a plan to replace temporary boilers at dozens of NYCHA buildings affected by the storm.

According to the councilman, NYCHA residents have been hooked up to temporary systems for 15 months, suffering from mechanical breakdowns that left them without heat on some of the most bitter cold days of 2014.

Treyger said he has been told the city pays in the ballpark of $50,000 per boiler per month, but they are faulty. Some of the boilers, he said, were not built to withstand low temperatures, causing the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents.

To cope with the cold, some residents heated their homes with their home ovens, putting families at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

Build it Back will be on the agenda for their March meeting, Treyger said. He also hopes to persuade the administration to appoint a “Sandy Czar” to coordinate between city, state and federal recovery initiatives, as well as to spur reform in the handling of New York City’s co-operative housing schemes for disaster recovery. Co-ops are viewed by the federal government as businesses, not primary residences of homeowners, and so were not eligible for FEMA funds in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Overall, the local pol is hoping that his committee will help reboot the process, and open the funding spigots for residents.

“This is an oversight committee. But oversight to me means we’re listening to people on the ground, listening to the residents living the day-to-day trauma resulting from Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “I will judge this recovery by those people, families, homeowners, business owners. We want to see progress. Quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing more Powerpoint presentations than progress on the ground.”

Oberman

Igor Oberman, who ran in the Democratic primary and then in the general election as the Working Families Party candidate to replace former Councilman Michael Nelson, raised more than $40,000 from donors while using his work phone at Taxi and Limousine Commission job, a Department of Investigation report claims.

Oberman served as an attorney for the commission, but was using the office to make calls for support during his City Council campaign, a violation of city rules, according to the report obtained by Crain’s Insider.

Oberman faced off against Democrat Chaim Deutsch and Republican David Storobin. Deutsch ultimately won the race by a wide margin.

The report also raises questions about his relationship with his campaign’s consultants, the Advance Group, which was simultaneously hired by the co-op Oberman runs, Trump Village 4.

Crain’s reports:

Last April, records show, Mr. Oberman signed off on a six-month, $45,000 lobbying contract with the Advance Group for the portion of the massive Coney Island co-op he runs a part of, Trump Village, at the same time the Advance Group was running Mr. Oberman’s political campaign, separately earning $73,000. Mr. Oberman says the lobbying expenses were entirely legitimate and separate from the campaign.

Both Mr. Oberman, president of the board of directors of Trump Village West, and the Advance Group face separate investigations from the city Campaign Finance Board into their practices during the 2013 election cycle.

The contract between Trump Village 4 and Advance was terminated in September, when Oberman lost the primary.

Separately, the Department of Investigation report, which was forwarded by a source, states that despite a warning not to do so, Mr. Oberman had “excessively used TLC resources” to conduct his political campaign, operate a realty business, and other business related to Trump Village, the massive Coney Island co-op of which he runs a part. Troves of campaign documents were found on his work computer, according to the report.

Mr. Oberman’s $82,500-a-year city job had been to oversee the prosecution of consumer-initiated complaints concerning the agency. But of the 1,900 calls Mr. Oberman made during a five-month period at the beginning of 2013, fewer than one-quarter were related to government business, an examination of phone records found. Mr. Oberman declined last summer to be interviewed by investigators, the report states. Mr. Oberman was dismissed from his job last September, according to a TLC spokesman.

Oberman denied the allegations to Crain’s.

Early in the race, Oberman seemed like a strong contender, having raised more than $94,000 during the first significant campaign disclosure period – $20,000 more than the next candidate. However, allegations later surfaced that Oberman had abused his role as president of the board of the 1,144-unit Trump Village 4 to aid his campaign, including in using the co-op’s funds to send out thinly-veiled campaign materials bearing his face – an allegation still being investigated by the Campaign Finance Board. (Disclosure: Trump Village 4 ran an ad on Sheepshead Bites during this time. It was paid for by Trump Village and designed by Sheepshead Bites. It did not depict Oberman whatsoever – although the material it linked to did feature his name and face.)

The candidate was also the target of allegations from his rivals that he had filed phony complaints with the Campaign Finance Board to mire his opponents in paperwork. By the September primary, five complaints had been made targeting three candidates. It appeared as if four of those complaints came from one campaign – Oberman’s – and were dismissed. The fifth was against Oberman himself, and is the complaint still under investigation by the agency.

Opponent Ari Kagan, who filed that complaint, also accused Oberman of suppressing Russian votes by sending out phony mailers with incorrect polling sites.

Williams with some fans.

Aw, man. The love fest over the newly minted City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was going so well. But it looks like the honeymoon is now over.

Midwood-Flatbush Councilmember Jumaane Williams made the curious move yesterday of wondering aloud, in the presence of a reporter, whether the committee chairmanships sufficiently represented black council members.

“My hope was that diversity would be considered a little bit more,” Williams told Politicker. “I am concerned about blacks in powerful leadership positions actually across the city, particularly with the role that they play in getting a lot of the issues forward and getting people where they were … So it concerned me that we haven’t achieved that. But I decided that I have faith in madam speaker … and I am looking forward to what we’re going to do.”

Williams was appointed the the Council’s leadership team and seven committees. That includes a spot as chair of the notable Housings & Buildings committee. So he certainly wasn’t griping about his own position.

Williams was joined by councilmembers Inez Barron, wife and successor to firebrand Charles Barron, and Ruben Wills also questioned the status of blacks in the Council, although both received appointments.

Mark-Viverito’s leadership style is yet to be fully seen. But the power of the speaker is, well, powerful, and gave previous leaders like Christine Quinn a channel to dole out vengeance to disobedient members. Sometimes that meant smaller discretionary budgets or killing key bills that made the rep look good.

Although Mark-Viverito said she was open to the question, an anonymous insider suggested to Politicker that, with that kind of criticism coming out of the gate, it’s likely to incur the speaker’s retribution.

“For those members to take it public in such fashion is not the best strategy. They are testing the waters and pushing the boundaries. I am certain it will be handled–I can’t tell you how but it will be, but the speaker cannot be admonished like that publicly,” the insider said.

Some of that vengeance is already on display. One of Mark-Viverito’s fiercest critics during the speaker race was Bronx Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who received no appointments.

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