Once again, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has removed the veil of her Manhattan liberal independent reformer image to reveal that she is a seasoned Democratic Party machine leader. She follows in the fine tradition of her predecessors, former Council Speakers Gifford Miller, Peter Vallone Senior and the late Tom Cuite of Brooklyn.
On January 18, 2010, Speaker Quinn announced her appointments of various Council committee chairpersons. Councilmembers loyal to their respective county organizations (the ones that endorsed her candidacy for speaker) were rewarded with salary increases known as lulus ranging from $4,000 to $28,000 to chair Council committees. These were renewed once again in January 2011. The average salary for a New Yorker is $41,000 per year. Every councilmember has a base salary of $112,500 plus bonuses, for a part-time job.
Under Speaker Quinn’s reign, it continues to be the usual political quid pro quo with councilmembers. Vote as instructed by the speaker and members will continue to receive the perks of office. These include salary bonuses for chairing Council committees, extra cash for local district offices, staff and mailings along with your share of several hundred million dollars available for funding local neighborhood pork-barrel projects to grease the wheels of re-election.
There are clear consequences when you vote against the wishes of Speaker Quinn and speak your mind on behalf of constituents, taxpayers and common sense as Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr. has on numerous occasions. Speaker Quinn sent a clear message to Councilmember Vallone when discretionary spending for his district was cut from $1,400,000 to $850,000 in the recently adopted 2011 municipal budget.
The five county Democratic political bosses don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, man or woman — just play ball like Speaker Quinn and you’re welcome to the smoke-filled clubhouse back rooms!
At the end of the day, Councilmember Vallone has a much better chance of becoming Queens Borough President in 2013 then Speaker Quinn does of becoming Mayor. Vallone answers to a higher authority – the voters rather than special interest groups like Speaker Quinn.