Thursday, January 30, 2014

Councilman Eric Ulrich named chairman of the City Council's Veterans Committee


Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, center, has handed a number of top committee assignments to Queens legislators. Photo by William Alatriste/NYC Council
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, center, has handed a number of top committee assignments to Queens legislators. Photo by William Alatriste/NYC Council
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito (D-Manhattan) did not forget about Queens when doling out top committee assignments last week to a number of representatives from the borough, including a lawmaker from the other side of the aisle and her former rival in the bid for the Speaker spot.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) was named chairman of the body’s Veterans Committee, which has oversight of the mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs and other veteran-related issues.
“Veterans have always been near and dear to my heart and I am proud to now be in a position to help those who sacrificed so much for our city and nation,” Ulrich said in a statement. “I consider it an honor to be appointed chair of the Veterans Committee.”
The decision came weeks after Ulrich made a last-minute swap of allegiance in who he would support in the race for speaker. The southern Queens councilman initially said he would not support Mark-Viverito because of reports that she was reluctant to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He later said, however, he had changed his mind since she assured him she would stand for pledge and recite it in the future.
Ulrich acknowledged a changing tide under both the new Council speaker and mayoral administration under Mayor Bill de Blasio – both of whom have pledged a progressive agenda in a changing city.
“Clearly, the Council has demonstrated a new approach to governing, one that is open, transparent and bi-partisan,” Ulrich said. “I am truly grateful for the confidence the speaker and my colleagues have in my ability to work with them on these and other important issues.”
America Works of New York, Inc. – an organization that works to place veterans into stable, reliable jobs – threw support behind Ulrich in his new position as committee chair.
“We are pleased to be working with an experienced Council member who cares about helping those individuals who served our nation,” said Lee Bowes, CEO of America Works of New York.
Councilman Eric Ulrich will chair the Council's Veterans Comittee. File photo
Councilman Eric Ulrich will chair the Council’s Veterans Comittee. File photo
Ulrich was also appointed to serve as a member of the Housing and Buildings Committee, Small Business Committee, Environmental Protection Committee and the Recovery and Resiliency Committee.
Numerous other Queens representatives, including those who both supported and opposed the speaker, also landed key committee roles. Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), for example, had also made a run for the Speaker position, but he was re-appointed to chair the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises – which oversees major items under the Land Use Division.
“From presiding over the largest downzoning of neighborhoods in New York City, approving innovative real estate developments, and securing thousands of affordable housing units across the borough, I look forward to continuing to work with labor, business groups, and community leaders to create a more equitable and sustainable city,” said Weprin, who will continue to sit on the Education Committee and was appointed to sit on the Transportation, Economic Development, and Technology committees.
This week, Weprin was also elected chair of the Council’s Queens County Delegation – which typically works as a unit to secure funding for groups and organizations that serve multiple districts or the entire borough.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) received one of the highest honors when he was named the Council’s majority leader, as well as co-chairman of the budget negotiating team and chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee. He also spoke of the Council’s newfound intentions to change the way the body governs.
“It has always been my goal to play a meaningful leadership role in this new, progressive Council,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “The opportunity to serve in the second highest position in the Council – with the concomitant strengthened portfolio and added responsibilities – is one I relish and am truly humbled by.
Other Queens representatives to receive top committee assignments included Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), who was appointed head of the Finance Committee, Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), who was picked to chair the Civil Service and Labor Committee and Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who was chosen to chair the Environmental Protection Committee.
Mark-Viverito also gave top spots to Council members who did not support her in her speaker bid, including Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village), who will chair the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who was picked to chair the Committee on State and Federal Legislation.
“The Office of Emergency Management, along with the FDNY, Department of Correction, Criminal Justice Coordinator Office and Department of Probation are critical part of our public safety network,” Crowley said in a statement. “Over the next four years, I intend to work hard to ensure these departments are doing the job that New Yorkers depend on.”
By Phil Corso

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