Maria Pereira and Ernie Newton have gone back and forth from literal pissing contests to sharp exchanges from their City Council perches. The talk of Monday’s council meeting wasn’t the regular business of the legislative body but an emotional apology from the provocative Pereira for inflammatory insults directed at Newton and by extension the reentry community leading the council to strip her of committee assignments, which further marginalized her influence.
To council members watching the mea culpa it was a rare show of humility from someone whose calling card is measured by defiance and not deference. With tears flowing, according to council members, Pereira expressed regret for her actions. In exchange Council President Aidee Nieves restored, backed by peers, her status to the Contracts and Education committees.
“For me, it’s about forgiveness,” says Newton. “It’s about the work of the council, not the name calling. She has the ability to be an effective council member.”
Unclear the jump point that led to this coda. Some council members say Pereira is battling health issues while others observe the stressors magnified by City Councilman Marcus Brown’s primary defeat of incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy whose campaign Pereira helmed.
Pereira had been trying to build a neighborhood powerbase in the city in advance of next year’s municipal election cycle, a problematic undertaking for someone stubborn to coalition building, compromise and diplomacy.
Her hard-handed retail politicking regarded in her Upper East Side district has failed in other neighborhoods.
Still, her research dedication and gift for crafting arguments–albeit often at the point of a verbal bayonet–are skill sets rare in city politics.
Is this an isolated magnanimous moment or an extended venture into political pragmatism?
2022-2023 City Council committee appointments: