Corey Johnson spent summer away from Council as NYC fought to reopen

As the Big Apple battled again from the pandemic, applied sprawling vaccine requirements, reopened colleges, endured epic flooding and contended with a crisis at the Rikers Island jail — the City Council posted its least productive summer in 20 years, a Post evaluation reveals.

The Council and its committees met or have been scheduled to meet simply 61 occasions between July and the top of September, the fewest variety of hearings and conferences since 2003 when it held 57.

It’s a large decline from the Council’s pre-pandemic workload, the information present.

City lawmakers scheduled 91 conferences and hearings over the three-month interval in 2019, 87 in 2018 and 91 once more in 2017.

It’s even much less productive than the Council was final summer, 2020, when it managed to maintain 72 conferences and hearings amid the devastating aftermath from the primary wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the town’s preliminary makes an attempt to reopen.

Speaker Corey Johnson attended The 2021 Met Gala on Sept. 13, 2021.
Speaker Corey Johnson attended the 2021 Met Gala on Sept. 13, 2021.
Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images

Council insiders and longtime observers lay the large drop off squarely on the ft of Speaker Corey Johnson, whose gentle summer schedule contrasted sharply with common sightings in Provincetown, Mass., a summer scorching spot on Cape Cod.

A Johnson spokeswoman claimed that Johnson’s almost four-year tenure working the Council had been extra productive than these of his two predecessors, former audio system Melissa Mark-Viverito and Christine Quinn.

“The Post is using a narrow definition of what the Council does in an attempt to discredit the institution,” mentioned Kate Lucadamo. “The Council and Speaker are proud of the work they did this summer and every day on behalf of New Yorkers.”

Still, Johnson’s workplace solely despatched out two each day schedules to reporters between July 1 and Aug. 30, on July 29 and Aug. 26, which have been the one two days the City Council formally met to approve laws throughout these two months.

Speaker Corey Johnson
“The Council and Speaker are proud of the work they did this summer and every day on behalf of New Yorkers,” mentioned Corey Johnson’s spokeswoman Kate Lucadamo.
William Farrington

A Post reporter noticed Johnson exiting the constructing inside minutes of the Aug. 26 Council assembly’s finish, carrying a weekend bag marked ‘VIP’ and having already swapped his swimsuit and tie for shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers.

“Who sets the priorities? It’s Corey. At the end of the day, the Speaker has to add a level of urgency to the Council,” mentioned one.

“It’s hard to run the New York City Council when you’re always running off to Provincetown,” mentioned one other. “It’s impossible to do anything because no one is doing anything.”

A 3rd supply introduced up the frequent journeys to Cape Cod unprompted when discussing the large slowdown in Council exercise.

“It would be tough to be away and be super engaged — and that didn’t happen either,” the individual mentioned.

“He used to be a key directional point for us on where we’re going as a body and where we can conduct consistent oversight, and that hasn’t happened as much,” mentioned a fourth.

Insiders mentioned Johnson’s inattentiveness compounded logistical points brought on by the short-term return to in-person hearings over the summer and struggles maintaining termed-out lawmakers engaged with simply months left on the job.

More than half of the City Council’s 51 seats will change hands next year due to the Big Apple’s term-limits regulation.

“There were definite logistical challenges that definitely needed the Speaker’s undivided attention and it didn’t get that,” added a fifth.

Johnson’s defenders say it’s been tough to get lawmakers to present up to hearings — even after they have been held.

For occasion, simply two council members posed questions to metropolis officers throughout a latest listening to on the town’s response to its intertwined psychological well being and homelessness crises.

But the dropoff in hearings and oversight has been evident to most inside and outdoors the Council.

There have been no hearings scheduled thus far to study the town’s response to the coronavirus over {the summertime}, its vaccination marketing campaign or readiness for a possible new wave of pandemic instances.

And the few key oversight hearings the Council did maintain solely took place after weeks of public strain.

Council members held just one listening to inspecting plans to reopen the town’s colleges on Sept. 1, simply two weeks earlier than youngsters and lecturers have been set to return to campus.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson
Council members held just one listening to inspecting plans to reopen the town’s colleges.
Matthew McDermott

The first and, thus far, solely listening to on the operational and security meltdown on the infamous Rikers Island jail advanced came on Sept. 15, after weeks of protection in regards to the disaster.

“There’s a lot going on in the city right now. It’s a difficult time for the city with COVID, there’s a lot going on,” Johnson mentioned on Sept. 9, responding to questions about why the listening to was so late in coming.

“I guess we could always do things more quickly but that’s not the way I’m looking at it,” he continued. “I want to make sure we have a really good, thoughtful, important hearing that gets information out, that comes together with a short-term and long-term action plan to change the trajectory on Rikers Island.”

Johnson didn’t find yourself attending the listening to.

By the numbers

The variety of conferences and hearings held by the New York City Council and its committees and subcommittees throughout Johnson’s speakership, in accordance to public schedules.

For joint committee conferences, every committee that attended was counted individually for all years within the evaluation.

2017: 91
2018: 87
2019: 91
2020: 72
2021: 61

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