Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NY Times: Quinn Outmaneuvers De Blasio, But Will It Play Well To Voters?

City Council Speaker had a rough week over questions of her temperament and vindictiveness after the NY Times went front page with an article that depicted her nasty, vengeful side, but conventional wisdom has it that she had a good policy week:

He has hammered her over the surging level of fines against small businesses, chided her for not demanding greater oversight of New York’s police and denounced her for failing to support a bill providing paid time off for sick workers. 

At times, the mayoral campaign of Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, has seemed like a crusade to shame Christine C. Quinn, a rival in the Democratic primary for mayor, into adopting the most cherished positions of their party’s liberal wing. 

His problem: She is starting to do it. 

The limitations of Mr. de Blasio’s strategy were laid bare on Friday when Ms. Quinn, the City Council speaker, struck a compromise with liberal advocates and unions to pass the paid sick-leave legislation she had long blocked. Advocates called the agreement imperfect, but still showed up to applaud her at a celebratory news conference. 

It was the latest episode in which Ms. Quinn’s deal-making acumen deprived Mr. de Blasio of a potent line of attack, showcasing the power that her incumbency as speaker gives her to outmaneuver opponents in the race for mayor. 

Over the past several weeks, amid criticism from Mr. de Blasio, Ms. Quinn has introduced legislation to create a police inspector general and to reduce fines levied on street vendors, seemingly timing her announcements for maximum political effect: her office unveiled the street vendor bill minutes before Mr. de Blasio was to assail her at a news conference at City Hall on the same subject.

As the Times article notes, Quinn risks looking more pragmatic than principled in all these moves and policy shifts.

Would Quinn have moved on the sick leave bill if this were not an election year and she not running for mayor in a Democratic primary?

I'm skeptical about that:

At City Hall on Friday, Ms. Quinn played down any lingering doubts about the sick-leave compromise, saying she had secured a deal where “all sides ended up having a voice.” Echoing a theme of her campaign, she described it as an example of “what effective policy making is all about.”

The Quinn campaign moved quickly to portray her as an inclusive champion of the middle class, sending a message to supporters in which Ms. Quinn pledged, “I will never stop bringing New Yorkers together.” 

But people with knowledge of the negotiations over the sick-leave bill said Ms. Quinn only reluctantly joined the discussions, hours after discovering that a dozen council members had signed an unusual petition that would seek to force a vote on the measure despite her opposition. 

Ms. Quinn, seeking to prevent the imminent filing of the petition, said she would discuss a deal. But she at first insisted on a broad exemption for small businesses that employ thousands of workers. Frustrated by the speaker’s position, advocates issued an ultimatum: Unless Ms. Quinn agreed to apply the requirement to businesses with as few as 20 workers, the talks would be off. 

On Friday, as they stood with the speaker to celebrate the agreement, advocates still conveyed that Ms. Quinn had played a grudging role in the deal. 

“We hit her pretty hard on this, and she got pushed to the point where she needed to negotiate,” said Javier H. Valdes, an executive director of Make the Road, a group involved in the negotiations. 

“When she did see that writing on the wall, she took a leadership role in finalizing it.” 

The way forward for de Blasio on this is to hit her again and again on her lack of principles, her grudging agreement to progressive issues like giving the sick leave bill a hearing only when forced to do so.

Frankly, I think this plays into questions about her temperament.

She has no principles and no scruples, as witnessed by the protesters, many of whom were once supporters, who follow her around demonstrating against her.

She cannot be trusted to do the right thing unless she absolutely is forced to do it.

She cannot be trusted by New Yorkers to treat them fairly, as witnessed by the constituents of Peter Vallone's and Elizabeth S. Crowley's districts who suffered program cutbacks and cancellations when Quinn felt slighted by their representatives.

In short, Christine Quinn cannot be trusted.

The Times article reports that many liberals and progressives are seeing Quinn's recent policy moves in just that light:

The feminist writer Gloria Steinem, who had said she would withhold her endorsement of Ms. Quinn if she did not allow a vote on the paid sick-leave measure, thanked the speaker for the compromise. But in a statement, Ms. Steinem pointedly referred to “the 1 percent” that had pressured leaders like Ms. Quinn to block action on the issue. 

One of the city’s most powerful unions, 1199, registered a starker form of disapproval, withholding its support for the compromise this week when advocates were asked to endorse it, according to people involved in negotiations. 

The murmurs of discontent on Friday provided some solace to Mr. de Blasio, who insisted the paid sick-leave question “remains absolutely alive in the debate about the future of our city.” 

Mr. de Blasio said he would join the Rev. Al Sharpton at a weekend rally to call for a more stringent sick-leave measure in New York, and he took pains to explain why advocates were now willing to stand by Ms. Quinn’s side. “As the saying goes,” Mr. de Blasio said, “when a hungry man is offered half a loaf, he will take it.”

The momentum may seem to be temporarily with  Ms. Quinn after her sick leave bill compromise and press conference, but make no mistake, it is just one more symptom of the disease that plagues her campaign for mayor and her political legacy.

She's only in it for herself.


  1. I agree with your analysis and I would hope that those challenging Quinn would keep harping on her credibility. Term Limts, the failure to bring this Bill to a vote until pressured, her real estate connections and their contributions to her campaign, the condo deal she secured, the dissatisfcation within her council district, her temperment and acts of retribution, .

    1. I wonder what implication today's indictments will have on the race? How are Quinn's machinations to engineer a third illegal term for Bloomberg not under scrutiny?