By Rachel Vick
A collection of New York City councilmembers and candidates called on Speaker Corey Johnson to release the findings of a two-year-old sexual harassment audit Tuesday.
The council commissioned the audit after multiple allegations of sexual harassment against its members, including ex-Bronx lawmaker Andy King, who was removed from office, and Queens Councilmember Barry Grodenchik. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed release of the audit results last year and the contract for the firm commissioned to create the report expired in April 2020. Lawmakers Tuesday said they did not understand the continued hold up.
“We are not asking for anything that is outrageous, difficult or impossible,” said Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a candidate for borough president.
The audit results have taken on new urgency as Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a mountain of misconduct and harassment accusations from staffers who say he kissed, touched and spoke to them inappropriately.
Van Bramer, an early advocate for removing King from office, said the city council was “not immune” to sexual harassment.
“We know that the City Council has, at times, failed to protect our own staff from abuses,” he added.
He and other speakers said the council must hold public hearings and seek feedback on the results of the audit. Doing nothing sends “a horrific message … that we pretended to listen,” he said.
Councilmember Brad Lander, a candidate for comptroller, said the $198,420 audit should serve as a tool for addressing misconduct and helping to “build a city council worthy of the city.”
District 22 council candidate Tiffany Cabán said the Cuomo scandal highlights the need to examine sexual harassment in government and create “an environment where people can do their jobs without fear of abuse from employers or colleagues.”
“What we see is refusal to act for far to long and a preference for taking a path of least resistance rather than doing the hard and necessary work of contending with our own complicity,” Cabán said. “If our government leaders can’t do this in their own halls, how can we expect them to root out and solve these issues in our communities?”
A spokesperson for Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the Daily News that the council and the contractor, Redwood Enterprises, were “working to wrap [the report] up” after the COVID delay.