Melissa Mark-Viverito Hires Brad Lander’s Policy Guru

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (left) with Councilman Brad Lander. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (left) with Councilman Brad Lander (right). (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has poached Councilman Brad Lander’s policy guru to work in her office, a spokesman for the council confirmed.

Michael Freedman-Schnapp, who served as Mr. Lander’s policy director, quietly joined Ms. Mark-Viverito’s staff in February as a $115,000-a-year director of policy and innovation.

Mr. Freedman-Schnapp had worked for Mr. Lander, a deputy speaker and a close ally of Ms. Mark-Viverito, for more than three years, according to his LinkedIn page. Like Mr. Lander, Mr. Freedman-Schnapp has an urban planning background: he has a master’s degree in urban planning and also worked at the Pratt Institute.

Sources described Mr. Freedman-Schnapp as an essential behind-the-scenes operator for Mr. Lander, who as a councilman has garnered a reputation as a wonky architect of ambitious legislation, including last year’s controversial Community Safety Act, which created an inspector general for the NYPD.

The hiring came a month after a New York Times profile described Mr. Lander as a “shadow speaker”–a characterization the Brooklyn Democrat strongly pushed back against.

Several council observers, however, argued that Mr. Freedman-Schnapp’s hiring served to reinforce Mr. Lander’s new power in the left-leaning body. As chair of the rules committee and an ex officio member of every council committee, Mr. Lander wields enormous influence, sources say.

“It fits into this narrative of Brad as shadow speaker–Michael is his guy on the inside, keeping an eye on Melissa Mark-Viverito and central staff and driving policy and legislation,” one source said.

Mr. Freedman-Schnapp referred a request for comment to a spokesman for the speaker, who confirmed the hire.