Political arena

How the pork was sliced


Councilman Oliver Koppell came in the middle of the pack for member-item funding doled out by Speaker Christine Quinn this year, which is not much of a change from last year.

Ms. Quinn doles out about $50 million to members, who in turn dole it out to organizations in their communities.

Mr. Koppell received more than $400,000 in member-item funding, often called pork.

He also directed more than $5 million in capital funding to parks and schools in his district. Though the total capital funds he directed were down slightly from last year, from $5.8 million to $5.4, it did not seem like the councilman was punished over his tussle with the speaker over the living wage bill. Mr. Koppell said at a budget briefing with local press on Monday that while Ms. Quinn finally come around to the living wage bill that he sponsored in the end, the struggle probably didn’t help him any.

“She finally did do something, but she probably didn’t like that I gave her such a hard time,” he said.

While Ms. Quinn denies any favoritism in the member-item process, The Wall Street Journal reported that a close ally of Ms. Quinn’s, Councilman Domenic Recchia, received $1.5 million, while other members received less than $400,000.

Mr. Koppell said reform is needed.

He said he thought the speaker should have some discretion, but that the funds should be directed by council committees to make it fairer to members and their districts.

More baseball

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat loves those baseball references. When asked what he might have done differently now that he knows he came oh-so-close to beating Rep. Charles Rangel, Mr. Espaillat answered with this: 

“I often use baseball analogies for politics. When you’re standing in front of Pedro Martinez and he’s throwing at you at 95 miles per hour, it’s a whole different ball game when you’re standing at the plate. It looks the size of an aspirin,” he said.

“So I’m not gonna say that I would have done it differently … I think the team did an excellent job.

Engel on Rangel

We talked to Rep. Eliot Engel two days after polls closed about what he thought of his colleague Rep. Charles Rangel fighting off a tough primary challenge to represent Bronx neighborhoods that Mr. Engel has represented for two decades.

That was before all the craziness of Congressional District 13, but since Mr. Rangel won, here’s what he said:

“You know, I like Charlie. I’m glad he won. I think that he’ll serve his district well. We’ll take him around the Bronx to the areas he doesn’t know that well,” he said.

Though Mr. Engel did not officially endorse Mr. Rangel, he did walk him around to two community centers in the Bronx the weekend before the election. Mr. Engel said this was effectively an endorsement.

“He’s happy I walked him around,” Mr. Engel said, adding that he saw him the following day and Mr. Rangel thanked him.

Mr. Engel added that he is sorry to lose the areas he represented. Mr. Engel currently represents Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Norwood, Bedford Park and parts of Kingsbridge Heights. Those neighborhoods were drawn into Congressional District 13 and will likely by represented by Mr. Rangel, as long as he wins the regular election in November.