Member of the GOP, but not Vets Committee
Jan 23, 2018 | 3523 views | 0 0 comments | 222 222 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a heavily Democratic City Council, there hasn't really been much political backlash for Councilman Eric Ulrich, currently the sole Republican in the legislative body from Queens. Ulrich represents the neighborhood of south Queens, from the Rockaways through Howard Beach to Woodhaven.

In fact, many of Ulrich's political critics come from within his own party, who label him a RINO (Republican In Name Only) who is more likely to side with Democrats on a number of issues.

Well, his membership in the GOP may have just cost him his position as chair of the City Council's Veterans Committee, which he has helmed for the last four years.

When the committees were announced recently by new Speaker Corey Johnson, Ulrich didn't receive one chairmanship, a high-profile appointment that also comes with a nice stipend.

Johnson said he wasn't trying to punish anyone with the appointments, only trying to best serve the people of New York. No one believes him.

It is a purely political appointment after all. It's not like the new chair, Councilman Chaim Deutsch of Brooklyn, has any more expertise on dealing with the issues surrounding veterans than Ulrich did when he was first appointed.

And, of course, many see the hidden hand of Congressman Joseph Crowley at work behind the scenes. Crowley, as you probably know, is the head of the Queens Democratic Party. His congressional district also includes parts of the Bronx, so he wields considerable influence in that county's Democratic Party as well.

City Council members elect the next speaker, and are generally seen as voting in line with the wishes of the county leader. With two counties in his sphere of influence, it's an open secret that Crowley can essentially crown the next speaker of the City Council if he plays his cards right.

Crowley's cousin, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, lost her City Council race to “Republican” challenger Bob Holden in November.

Holden lost to Crowley in the Democratic Primary in September, but took up an offer by the Republicans to run on their line and actually won the general election. On the City Council website, however, Holden's political affiliation is listed as “Democrat,” so his brief flirt with the GOP didn't last long.

Possibly spotting a fellow RINO when he sees one, Ulrich was quick to endorse Holden over Crowley, which couldn't have made her politically connected cousin too happy.

Just weeks before the election, Ulrich also accused Elizabeth Crowley of sending city agencies after a Broad Channel restaurant for personal reasons after an altercation nearby involving her two sons over the summer. He went so far as to file a complaint with the Conflicts of Interest board, but many questioned his timing for talking about it in the press right before voters headed to the polls.

Which brings us to the committee chair appointments and Ulrich not only losing his spot on the Veterans Committee, but not being named to head another committee or even get a seat on one of the more influential ones, like Land Use, Finance or Economic Development.

He will be joining Holden on the Technology Committee with another person who was elected to the City Council as a Republican only to switch allegiances to the Democratic Party, Councilman Peter Koo, who will chair the committee.

For his part, Crowley says he had nothing to do with Ulrich losing his chairmanship or influence any of the other committee assignments (wink, wink).

For his part, Holden also wasn't named to head a committee, but that's not unusual for a first-term council member.

If all of this sounds incredibly seedy and makes you a little sick to your stomach, don't be too put off by the shenanigans.

What's the point of wielding a bunch of backroom political influence if you don't go into the backroom every once in a while and throw your chips on the table?

You should just be happy that politicians are playing political games with some silly City Council political appointments. You could probably get rid of all of the committees anyway and save the taxpayers the money we pay the council members who chair them.

Or just think of it this way...you manage a company and you have to assign someone to do a job that doesn't really have the much responsibility anyway, so are you going to give it to someone who got the cousin of the person responsible for your position fired, or find someone neutrally random to take it?

Probably find someone neutrally random.

It's all those judgeships that get tossed out to loyal party members that we should really be concerned about it!
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