Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Email: felder@council.nyc.ny.us Dailynews: City Councilman Simcha Felder may have given new meaning to "chutzpah," a Yiddish word with an elastic definition covering everything from gall to causing gallstones in others. Felder, a Democrat and Orthodox Jew who represents Borough Park, actively supported Christine Quinn in her successful bid to become speaker of the City Council. Yet, he took a convenient powder during the Jan. 4 voice vote that elected Quinn, who is openly gay, so as not to offend some of his more conservative Hasidic and Orthodox constituents, who are said to view homosexuality as "a grave sin" that is forbidden by Jewish rabbinic law. Felder made a well-timed visit to the men's room at the rear of the Council Chambers during the actual vote for speaker to avoid being recorded as having voted or abstained, according to a report published last week by The Jewish Week. So who does Felder invite to be one of the VIP speakers tomorrow night at his third-term Council inauguration celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall? You guessed it - Quinn. Now that is chutzpah. Not only that, but Quinn has accepted the invitation, according to a spokeswoman. And if that's not chutzpah enough, several Council insiders report that Felder is in line to be tapped by Quinn to be chairman of a committee dealing with mental health, mental retardation, alcoholism, drug abuse and disability services. That committee carries a $15,000 stipend, which would give Felder a $7,000 raise over his current chairmanship of the landmarks subcommittee. Also planning to speak at Felder's celebration tomorrow is Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican for whom Felder crossed party lines last year to help head the Democrats for Bloomberg campaign efforts. The media originally reported that Quinn had been elected speaker with only one of the 51 members abstaining, Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who had complained about the boss-driven process by which she became speaker. Felder now confirms that he did not participate in the vote.
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