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NOV 27 - DEC 03, 2015

Will the Council Men's Club Give Grandinetti the Gavel in 2016?

By Anna Howard

NOV 27, 2015

Kristen Grandinetti

While the possibility of a woman being elected president next November is being kicked around nationally, the question as to whether councilmember Kristen Grandinetti - a woman - will finally be handed the chairman's gavel in January 2016 has gone virtually unremarked upon in local political circles.

We understand the councilwoman has her heart set on the 2016 chairmanship. It's a position she's never held in her six years as a council member. It's a position that Charles Walker held several times and a position that Andrew Touma was handed in just his second year (this year) of his rookie term. With the passing of Robert Anderson – and with Glenn Choolokian leaving the council at the end of 2015, the selection of the next chairman will be determined by Touma and Walker.

Sources tell us that Grandinetti is concerned that she may not be named chairman for just that reason...that it was Walker and Touma that blocked her move to the top position for the past two years.

In 2014 Walker craftily corralled - after telling Grandinetti that the chairmanship was hers - Choolokian and Anderson to support him for chairman. In 2015 Andrew Touma (a fast learner as to gamesmanship in city politics) was seated as chairman. So, once again Kristen Grandinetti was left at the altar after having been led to believe she was the preferred candidate for the chair.

There is no rule guaranteeing that every council member will serve as chairman no matter how long they're on the council. Seniority plays no role, necessarily, in election to chairman. That's simply a political reality. A reality that Ms. Grandinetti has had to live with for better or worse until now.

However, it's a fact that Kristen is the only female on the council and while serving six years as a city lawmaker she's the only person who has, to date, not been elected to the chairman's position. We find that to be potentially troubling if it continues in 2016.

Let's do the math. Incoming councilman Ken Tomkins is a Republican. Logic dictates that a Democratic majority will not elect Tomkins as chair. Incoming councilman Ezra Scott is a Democratic rookie office holder. Rookies don't get to call the shots. Charles Walker has been the chairman several times and his failure to file election finance reports has cast an indelible cloud over the remainder of his council career.

Andrew Touma is the current chairman, having been (in a back room deal that caught Ms. Grandinetti off guard) elected in just his second year. His term as chairman has been less than distinguished.

Touma has hitched his political star to the Paul Dyster wagon on numerous questionable expenditures and administrative actions: borrowing millions of dollars for the Dyster ice pavilion, unquestioningly supporting the Dyster trash program, obfuscating but not solving the frozen pipes on 72nd Street, supporting the political hires in city hall, forming a toothless finance panel and promoting a Dyster downtown parking plan that makes zero sense no matter how creatively the numbers are crunched.

The city council should do the right thing for 2016 and hand the gavel to Grandinetti. Not to do so would be wrong, but not wrong because she's a woman that automatically deserves "her turn." It would be wrong because those who have served as chairman in the recent past have failed to distinguish themselves either in word or deed.

It's time to pass the chairman's gavel to Kristen Grandinetti. Let's find out if she can make a positive difference in a city that truly, desperately, needs positive change.






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