The worst kept secret in City Hall was NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral ambitions. The lines are clearly blurred between her day job and the new job she seeks. Quinn has been engaged in a non stop series of daily press conferences, news releases, issuance of various reports, letters to the editor, guest columns in newspapers and publicity stunts for years. All of this was at taxpayers’ expense to raise his name identification with voters and grease the wheels for her intended 2013 Mayoral run. Don’t forget her visiting every local and county Democratic Party clubhouse from the day after lame duck Mayor Bloomberg took his last oath of office in January 2010.
Contrast Quinn with former NYC Comptroller and 2009 losing Democratic Party Mayoral candidate William Thompson. He is a profile in courage for resigning as chairman of the Battery City Park Authority almost a year ago. He has been free to run full time for mayor with no conflicts of interest.
There has been a consistent political quid pro quo with Quinn. This started when she was a member of the New York City Council and continues with him serving as Public Advocate. Look at his record with the United Federation of Teachers and virtually all municipal labor unions. She has supported virtually all of the UFT and city labor union demands. I challenge anyone to find examples of Quinn publicly disagreeing with the UFT or other municipal labor unions on any major issues during his career. Check Quinn’s campaign filings with the New York City Campaign Finance Board and see for yourself.
Quinn like many other elected officials are puppets on the UFT and city labor unions’s strings, just like the politicians and judges were in the pocket of Don Corleone in “The Godfather.”
She would clearly not be able to represent the interests of parents, taxpayers and business people when negotiating future contracts with the UFT or any municipal labor unions if elected mayor.
Now that she has come out of the closet and declared her official candidacy for mayor. Quinn should avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest by resigning the Office of NYC Council Speaker today. She should end the charade and be honest enough to run full time for mayor on his own time and dime.
Hard working municipal civil servants work full time. They can’t campaign part time during the day like Quinn. They would have to either take a leave of absence or quit their day job.
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.
She is never shy around a camera or microphone. This year she will once again quietly issued checks for 50% of each Councilmembers annual awarded lulus of between $4,000 to $28,000 per year on top of a $112,000 base salary to her loyal members for chairing a Council Committee or subcommittee. The base salary plus lulu is far more than what an average middle class constituent or career municipal servant earns for a job officially classified as part time.
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 the 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.
Councilmembers including Quinn have staff to drive them around town and private parking privileges at City Hall. How many ever considered using mass transit for commuting to work like millions of their constituents do daily? Do any Council members have a MetroCard and use it regularly? Check out the City Hall parking lot when the Council is in session and see. Quinn continues the tradition of allocating millions of dollars in member item pork barrel projects to her Council favorites.
With 8 percent of New Yorkers still out of work, another 7 percent who have given up looking along with many others working part time and/or for minimum wage, there are many public minded citizens besides the current 51 council members with the knowledge and wisdom to perform their jobs at a fraction of the cost. Many would gladly serve and show up for work full time without the perks of office for $112,000 per year minus all the traditional lulus or other benefits ordinary citizens and hard working municipal civil servants can only dream about.
There is a clear appearance of a serious conflict of interest with Quinn running for Mayor in 2013. Will she be rewarding those loyal councilmembers with lulus in exchange for their support of her Mayoral campaign? Ditto when Quinn will be issuing the remaining 50 percent balance of lulus in July 2013.
This conflict of interest is even worse when the new city municipal budget is adopted on July 1, 2013. Will Quinn “steer” the bulk of several hundred million dollars worth of member item pork barrel projects she controls to the same loyal councilmembers and recipients of earmarks who by coincidence will be supporting her in the Democratic Mayoral Primary?
All of these lulus and member item pork barrel projects are paid by your hard earned tax dollars.
Just like past Speakers Miller and Vallone, Senior, Speaker Quinn believes she is qualified to become mayor. On primary day, voters may tell Quinn no thanks just like they did for Miller and Vallone.