Days after the new speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, fired nearly a quarter of the council's central staffers, council officials are wondering how she intends to fill the dozens of vacancies she has created.
In a move that her spokeswoman said was part of a "significant restructuring" of the council, the speaker gave pink slips to 61 out of 278 members of the council's central staff on Friday.
Now some officials, in interviews yesterday, expressed concern that Ms. Quinn will turn to friends of the Democratic Party bosses who got her elected. "The leader always has the right to hire staff, but I want to be sure what we end up with is quality and diversity," a council member of Manhattan, Gale Brewer, said. "Diversity not just racially, but also not coming from only one source."
Among those let go were the council's finance director, Larian Angelo, as well as much of the finance, legal, and communications divisions. The speaker replaced Ms. Angelo with Michael Keogh, from the mayor's Office of State Legislative Affairs. Mr. Keogh had previously worked for the city workers' union, District Council 37, as well as the council's finance division.
Ms. Quinn's spokeswoman, Maria Alvarado, said the council would announce more hires in the coming weeks. Interviews are underway.
"A lot of the people are [from the] Bronx and Brooklyn," one council staffer who was not fired said, referring to job applicants who were close to two of the three county party chairmen who backed Quinn for speaker - Jose Rivera of the Bronx, and Vito Lopez of Brooklyn. "It seems like it's already been decided, that they're just coming in for the formal interview."
Messrs. Rivera and Lopez did not return requests for comment. The executive secretary of the Democratic Party in Queens, Michael Reich, said neither he nor the county chairman, Thomas Manton, had met with Ms. Quinn about staffing at the council, but that they offered recommendations. "Recommendations have been made, but that's the extent of it," Mr. Reich said. "The speaker, as she should, has a totally free hand to pick her team."
Ms. Alvarado said yesterday that the speaker's office was reaching out to community leaders and placing ads for resumes. Party leaders, she said, would be among dozens of people with input in the hiring process. "Ultimately, the speaker makes the final decision," she said.
The dismissals on Friday, which were effective immediately, came largely without notice, echoing a similar mass firing four years ago, when the former speaker, Gifford Miller, sacked more than 60 staffers on Valentine's Day, shortly after taking office.
This weekend, some disgruntled former staffers turned to the Internet, flooding a post about the firings on the New York Observer's Politicker blog with more than 330 comments as of yesterday.
Ms. Quinn's hiring decisions will be closely watched by groups like the Citizens Union, which has long pushed for reforms in the council, including giving committee heads more power in personnel decisions related to their panels.
"How the speaker chooses to fill these vacancies will say a lot about how she plans to reform the council," the executive director of the Citizens Union, Dick Dadey, said.
Ms. Quinn had won the right to pick her staff, Mr. Dadey said. "However," he added, "I hope that the people fired are not being replaced by political debts being paid to party leaders."
Others said the possible involvement of party leaders in appointments was a political reality, and not necessarily a detriment to the council. "It's not a sin to hire people who are recommended by people who are helpful to you," a council member of Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, said. "It's almost as if you should punish someone that's been helpful to you. That's not true."