Open Chair

By contrast with the crowded field vying for Yvette Clarke’s City Council seat, it seems to be taking a while to find someone to occupy the committee chairmanship she left behind.

One member who was offered the position — chair of the Contracts Committee — has already turned it down, according to a Council staffer.

The most likely candidate for the position at this point seems to be Letita James, the more senior of the two members of the Brooklyn delegation who don’t currently have chairmanships.

The committee doesn’t oversee any particular agency but has the power to scrutinize existing city contracts. An aggressive chair of that committee could conceivably hold hearings and run a fine-tooth comb through the city’s contracts, much like the City Comptroller did with the Snapple deal.

And already, the mayor is pushing to have less oversight of how it awards contracts, making this committee chairmanship a potential counterbalance to the mayor — and a place to grab some headlines if one is so inclined.

But under the current speaker, the Council has worked more cooperatively with the mayor’s side of City Hall, rather than against it. Which may explain why no one is clamoring for the committee chair.

Asked about her level of interest in the position, James declined to comment for the record. A spokesman in the Speaker’s office said that no decision had been made.

— Azi Paybarah

Open Chair