Speaker hopeful wants to launch team that allows City Council to perform its own investigations

New_York_Daily_News_logo.pngBy Erin Durkin

A candidate for City Council speaker is pushing to create a new unit for the Council to do its own investigations of city agencies.

Councilman Mark Levine, in an agenda he is set to release for his candidacy, proposes hiring up to a dozen attorneys and auditors so the Council can conduct independent probes.

Levine, who is white — and has faced some resistance from members who believe the speaker should be a person of color — also promised the majority of his budget negotiating and leadership teams would be black, Latino and Asian.

The upper Manhattan Democrat is one of eight pols running for speaker.

While the city controller and Department of Investigations already conduct probes of city government, Levine said his new oversight and investigations unit will be able to gauge whether laws the Council has passed are being enforced effectively. “This will give us that ability with the unique perspective of the body that’s actually crafting legislation and approving the budget,” he said.

He said the Council leadership and budget team whose posts the speaker is in charge of awarding would “reflect the diversity of the City Council and our city as a whole. We can do that and still ensure we have people of outstanding ability.”

The agenda — whose planks he says he’d act on in his first 100 days in office — also includes creating a task force to review the sexual harassment policies of city agencies and make it easier to report harassment.

With the number of women on the Council shrinking in recent years, Levine says he’ll support campaigns to get 21 women elected to the 51-member body by 2021.

He’s also proposing cutting in half the time it takes to draft bills — requiring most to be done within 30 days — and doubling the size of the Council’s land use division.

Read the full story here.

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