How we calculated the Best & Worst New York City Lawmakers

#2 on the list, Councilman Robert Holden.
#2 on the list, Councilman Robert Holden.
William Alatriste/New York City Council
#2 on the list, Councilman Robert Holden.

How we calculated the Best & Worst New York City Lawmakers

A detailed explanation of our analysis.
January 26, 2020

We crunched a lot of numbers to come up with our Best & Worst New York City Lawmakers list. Here’s how we did it.

The criteria

We used five criteria to assess each member: the number of bills introduced in 2019, the number of bills signed into law in 2019, attendance in 2019, and responsiveness to a constituent question and a media request sent in November 2019.

1

Using the New York City Council’s online database, we first counted the number of laws that each New York City Council member had enacted during 2019. Using the database’s advanced search function, we pulled up the introductions enacted in 2019, regardless of the year when the bill was first introduced, in which a lawmaker was the first primary sponsor. We then ranked each council member based on the number of new laws, from most to least.

In the case of ties, we calculated an average ranking. For example, four lawmakers – Corey Johnson, Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm and Helen Rosenthal – were tied for No. 1 in laws enacted, with 11 apiece. Instead of giving them each a 1, we calculated an average of the four spots they occupied. This resulted in a ranking of 2.5 for each lawmaker ((1+2+3+4)/4=2.5). We repeated this approach for ties in the rankings for every other measure.

We then conducted a similar analysis for bills introduced by lawmakers in 2019. Using the City Council’s advanced search function, we pulled up the introductions from 2019 in which a lawmaker was the first primary sponsor. Any bills introduced in 2018 were excluded. We then ranked each council member based on the number of bills introduced, from most to least.

3

Next, we counted all the meetings that each council member attended, including committee and subcommittee meetings, and how many he or she missed. We went to the New York City Council’s calendar page and reviewed the minutes from every meeting to see who was present and who was absent. Most absences that were excused or explained were still counted as absences. City Councilman Alan Maisel missed 21 meetings for medical reasons, for example, while City Councilman Stephen Levin missed 44 days on paternity leave, and all of them were included in our analysis. The only exception was for conflicts, meaning that a council member had two committee meetings at the same time, and thus could not attend both.

4

To assess responsiveness to constituents, we sent an anonymous email in late November to every office with a simple question: “Hi – do you have any information about how to be counted in the 2020 census? Thanks!” We sent the email to the general email address that New York City Council members have on their official government webpages.

We counted any response – even requests for an address for verification, or suggestions that we contact our congressional representative, or autoreplies with a phone number to call – as long as it came in within seven days. We did not rank these replies based on how quickly a response came, however. In our calculations, everyone who responded was tied for first, and everyone who did not was tied for last.

5

To assess responsiveness to the media, we sent an email request to each office in late November asking for the officeholder’s latest headshot. These emails were sent to the general email address from each member’s official government webpage and to the best email address we could find for a communications staffer, chief of staff or other appropriate staff member. Any reply at all within seven days qualified as a response, even if we never actually got a photo. 

As with our constituent response test, we did not rank these based on how quickly a response was received. In our calculations, everyone who responded was tied for first place, and everyone who did not was tied for last place.

The totals

Finally, we took the rankings for each measure and calculated an average score for each council member, weighing each factor equally. For example, if a single council member was theoretically No. 1 on all five measures, he or she would get a score of 1. If a single council member was ranked last on all five measures, he or she would get a score of 50. The overall scores, ordered from lowest to highest, gave us our final ranking.

Some caveats

Unlike our 2017 rankings, we dropped the number of Google search results of each member’s name from this year’s analysis, in part because it leaves out online mentions in languages other than English – including Chinese and Spanish language media in immigrant-heavy districts. We also dropped Twitter followers as a measure, since it could penalize older lawmakers who are less adept with social media – and because less than a quarter of American adults even use Twitter.

We omitted Jumaane Williams, who only served a few months in 2019 before becoming public advocate, and we also left out his successor, Farah Louis, since she didn’t serve a full year either. That’s why our ranking is 1-50, even though the City Council has 51 members.

The numbers

Name

Attendance

Bills intro’d

Bills enacted

Constituent 

response

Communications response

Score

Keith Powers

4

16.5

10

11.5

17

11.8

Helen Rosenthal

34

1

2.5

11.5

17

13.2

Robert Holden

3

3

36

11.5

17

14.1

Corey Johnson

1.5

20

2.5

11.5

42

15.5

Mark Treyger

19

24.5

5.5

11.5

17

15.5

Daniel Dromm

14

8

2.5

36.5

17

15.6

Ben Kallos

5

14

10

36.5

17

16.5

Mark Levine

11

2

5.5

36.5

42

19.4

Steven Matteo

1.5

37.5

29.5

11.5

17

19.4

Chaim Deutsch

7

44.5

20

11.5

17

20

Antonio Reynoso

30

28.5

14.5

11.5

17

20.3

Joe Borelli

39

5.5

29.5

11.5

17

20.5

Alicka Ampry-Samuel

29

14

7.5

36.5

17

20.8

Peter Koo

6

34

36

11.5

17

20.9

Donovan Richards

21

5.5

25

36.5

17

21

Robert Cornegy

16

22.5

14.5

36.5

17

21.3

Adrienne Adams

9

20

25

36.5

17

21.5

Carlina Rivera

12

10.5

7.5

36.5

42

21.7

Diana Ayala

15

5.5

10

36.5

42

21.8

Justin Brannan

42

20

20

11.5

17

22.1

Margaret Chin

20

18

29.5

36.5

17

24.2

Costa Constantinides

32

10.5

2.5

36.5

42

24.7

Barry Grodenchik

13

47

36

11.5

17

24.9

Stephen Levin

48

10.5

14.5

11.5

42

25.3

Ydanis Rodriguez

33

26.5

14.5

36.5

17

25.5

Rafael Salamanca

31

5.5

14.5

36.5

42

25.9

Paul Vallone

24

10.5

42.5

11.5

42

26.1

Fernando Cabrera

35

22.5

20

36.5

17

26.2

Ritchie Torres

36

16.5

25

36.5

17

26.2

Brad Lander

22

34

25

11.5

42

26.9

Karen Koslowitz

18

41

47.5

11.5

17

27

Laurie Cumbo

38

31

14.5

11.5

42

27.4

Andrew Cohen

10

34

42.5

36.5

17

28

Francisco Moya

28

14

20

36.5

42

28.1

Rafael Espinal

37

31

20

36.5

17

28.3

I. Daneek Miller

41

24.5

25

36.5

17

28.80

Vanessa Gibson

26

28.5

36

36.5

17

28.80000

Mathieu Eugene

17

44.5

36

36.5

17

30.2

Jimmy Van Bramer

25

31

42.5

11.5

42

30.4

Rory Lancman

47

41

36

11.5

17

30.5

Carlos Menchaca

27

37.5

36

36.5

17

30.8

Kalman Yeger

8

48.5

47.5

11.5

42

31.5

Deborah Rose

40

37.5

29.5

36.5

17

32.1

Eric Ulrich

46

41

47.5

11.5

17

32.6

Alan Maisel

43

48.5

47.5

11.5

17

33.5

Inez Barron

23

37.5

36

36.5

42

35

Mark Gjonaj

44

26.5

36

36.5

42

37

Ruben Diaz Sr.

45

44.5

47.5

36.5

17

38.1

Andy King

50

44.5

42.5

36.5

42

43.1

Bill Perkins

49

50

47.5

36.5

42

45

 

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