On Friday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito rewarded loyal members with something extra in their paychecks. It was lulu day, the twice a-year payment of stipends on top of the members’ already healthy $112,500 salaries.
The cash, ranging from $25,000 yearly (for Mark-Viverito) down to $5,000, is supposed to compensate for the extra duties of leadership. In practice, it’s a wasteful and corrupting joke.
Wasteful because fully 47 of 51 members qualify, giving the lie to the claim that the payments are owed for work above and beyond the ordinary. Corrupting because, by doling out the dough, the speaker wields undue influence over members.
The good news is that 10 members flat-out refused the money: Brad Lander, Alan Maisel, Carlos Menchaca and Mark Treyger of Brooklyn; Andy Cohen of the Bronx; Dan Garodnick, Ben Kallos, Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan; and Steve Matteo of Staten Island.
Not only did they say no, but Mark-Viverito gave all 10 the option to beg off for the three-and-a-half years left in their terms. All 10 did.
Garodnick and Lander are turning down $15,000 yearly, Matteo is declining $5,000 and the rest, $8,000. They believe that all Council members should be paid the same and put principle before personal interest. Salute their integrity.
Another member who won’t be be getting his lulu, though not for the same high-minded reason, is Ruben Wills of Queens. He has been indicted for stealing from a government slush fund.
Nineteen others take their lulus and claim to donate them to charity. They should offer proof.
Near the bottom of the pile are 11 members who keep their lulus — and below them are the half-dozen who backed restricting lulus yet pocket the money: Corey Johnson and Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan, Daneek Miller, Danny Dromm and Paul Vallone of Queens and Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn. Hypocrites.