The three councilmen representing the northwest Bronx have scored key committee chairmanships, with two of them promising not to keep the accompanying $8,000 stipend for themselves and the other still weighing his options.
A former member of the Juvenile Justice Committee, District 14 Councilman Fernando Cabrera is bringing big goals to his chairmanship of the panel.
Mr. Cabrera said his top priority is reducing youth incarceration through education, counseling and other programs that aim to reduce recidivism along with gang prevention programs.
“Young people that get incarcerated, many don’t do well when they come out,” Mr. Cabrera said. “But for those who do come out, we want good transitional programs so they can join society when they come back and be productive.”
In keeping with nationwide trends, New York City has seen a decrease in the total number of youth incarcerations in recent years. But recidivism remains high, with at least two thirds of youths rearrested within two years of their release from jail, according to data from organizations including Cut Youth Incarceration, an advocacy group.
Mr. Cabrera said he will call on his years of experience as a reverend and social worker to develop programs that “create a new subculture” for youths with a criminal record.
While critics view chairmanship stipends, also known as lulus, as a way for the City Council speaker to draw loyalty from council members, Mr. Cabrera’s appointment seemed to counter that point of view. He supported a rival to Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in her ultimately successful bid for the speaker’s post.
Mr. Cabrera said he will donate his stipend to an as-of-yet undetermined charity, but added he feels committee chairmen do in fact perform extra work. He said as the City Council considers eliminating the lulus, if it takes away chairmen’s stipends, it should remove those of majority and minority leaders, too.