The potential methods used by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn to defeat the proposed “living wage bill” supported by 30 of 51 members of the New York City Council is nothing to cheer about, when you look into the details. This measure would force companies to pay employees under any city-subsidized project $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits as opposed to the minimum wage currently at $7.25 per hour. Speaker Quinn has kept a bill proposed by Bronx Council members G. Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma bottled up in committee for one year while she contemplates her political options. As an all but publicly announced candidate for Mayor in 2013, Speaker Quinn has to make a choice by affording all 51 Councilmembers a vote which will either make labor happy or the business community happy. In the meantime, she continues to raise campaign contributions from both the labor unions and business people along with the usual City Hall “Pay for Play” crowd. Combined, they now total several million dollars which will be used to finance her Mayoral ambitions. At some point, people are going to want to see a “return” on their respective investments on this issue or some may stop writing checks until she makes a favorable decision depending upon your point of view on this issue.
Past supporters of Quinn have been disappointed over the years as she changed from being a liberal independent reformer to seasoned Democratic party machine leader. Her potential method in defeating this legislation is to deny 50 other members of the New York City Council the right to vote up or down on the proposed legislation. Wasn’t Quinn elected to represent voters of her West Village district and not all five boroughs? Her actions denied almost 8 million New Yorkers a direct say regardless of their side of the issue.
To maintain control of the Council, Speaker Quinn continues handing out lulus to loyal members from $4,000 to $28,000 per year for chairing Council Committees. She tolerates Council members with potential conflicts of interest by allowing income from outside second jobs and campaign contributions from City Hall Pay for Play contributors including unions real estate, businesses and political action committees. Many of these are looking for favors in return at taxpayers expense. She allows the wasteful spending of Council members administrative budgets used to pay for personal office items. Travel abroad at City expense to foreign countries is used to curry favor with ethnic constituents and is also funded. She supported allocating millions of dollars in member items for local pork barrel projects. Perhaps all of the above is why the so-called reform Progressive Council caucus has been so silent on this outrage. They appear to practice never bite the hand that “feeds” you.
Quinn has yet to announce support for an honest reapportionment of district boundaries after the 2010 census to promote real competition for future contests.
The five NYC Democratic County political bosses have never cared if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, man or woman — just play ball like Speaker Quinn and you can become one of the chosen in the smoke filled clubhouse back room. Quinn is cut from the same cloth as past Speakers, like the late Tom Cuite, Peter Vallone Senior and Gifford Miller in ruling the Council in a dictatorial style.