NY Post Op-Ed: Get a spine, (Christine) Quinn

Christine Quinn 2009 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony WSP Phase I

An Op-Ed worth reading in today’s New York Post by Michael Goodwin on Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker, her run for Mayor 2013 (fingers crossed that Mike Bloomberg will be ready to vacate the office by then!), and the lack of oversight by the City Council under her watch:

The council speaker is trying desperately to be all things to all people. She believes she can become the next mayor by splitting all the babies in half.

Stop-and-frisk, wage mandates, economic development, education, union power, taxing and spending — she tries always to thread the needle between competing interests. Only on gay rights is she consistently principled, although her overreach in trying to close down the Chick-fil-A store at NYU revealed a militant streak.

As unappealing as her behavior in that incident was, her approach to other policies isn’t much better. Quinn is no Bill Clinton when it comes to triangulating. Her “third way” is mostly a ham-handed effort to simultaneously pander to opposites.

Thus, she wants the business community to believe she shares its concerns about wage and sick-leave laws, while telling the unions her heart is with them on the same issues. She collected money from both sides, and both now demand their piece of flesh.

Whatever she decides, her formula for governing is doomed to fail because there is no clear guiding principle. If she were to use that calculating, transactional approach as mayor, City Hall would resemble an auction house, with all bidders assuming they would get something for their money. Prosecutors and newspapers would have a field day.

Quinn has been able to get by up to now because she is hiding under the wings of Mayor Bloomberg. His power and money shelter her, and she has repaid him by acting more as a deputy mayor than the head of the legislative branch. He owes her for that, and for organizing the votes that allowed them both a third term.

It is worth noting that, of the big scandals involving Bloomberg’s contracts on technology and other private vendors, none was uncovered by the City Council. Agency oversight has rarely been strong in the council, but under Quinn, it is an oxymoron.

At heart, Quinn is not a reformer. She is a creature of the clubhouse and advocacy worlds, with taxpayer cash and special-interest logrolling the coins of her realm.

If you missed the recent New York Times piece on Ms. Quinn’s home life on weekends in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, it’s worth reading more for its puff piece quality than anything else. (I’ll add link in later.)

Two good pieces in NY Daily News and NY Times on Mayor Bloomberg and His Wish to Spend his Way to a Third Term

In Sunday’s (10/5) New York Daily News, Chad Marlow, president of an organization called The Public Advocacy Group, in an Op-Ed wrote:

Make no mistake about it, extending term limits would provide a de facto four-year extension of Mayor Bloomberg’s term because incumbents rarely lose elections, billionaires rarely lose elections and billionaire incumbents are virtually unbeatable.

… This is not exactly a Democracy Hall of Fame into which Mayor Bloomberg is placing himself and his legacy. …

Mayor Bloomberg has justified his push to extend term limits by arguing that he needs another term as mayor to guide our city through its current economic struggles.

Even if one assumes, for the sake of argument, that this justification is true and its intended result is desirable, why must term limits be extended for every New York City elected official? No member of the City Council or any citywide or boroughwide office has had the audacity to claim they are similarly indispensable. The truth is Mayor Bloomberg is seeking to extend term limits for every elected official as a reward for lifting his own.

Outside of politics, this move would be considered as something akin to a bribe.

So let’s call the mayor’s bluff. … Let’s see how far a bill goes that is linked solely to addressing the alleged need to have Mayor Bloomberg stay in office for four more years, but does not include the additional perk of extending term limits for everyone else in city government. It would be dead on arrival, and so too should be any other legislative proposal to extend term limits.

And in the Business Section in today’s New York Times, David Carr in Media Pave the Way to 3rd term writes:

“But as newspaper editorialists and others have pointed out,” [Mayor Bloomberg] said, “the current law denies voters the right to choose who to vote for — at a time when our economy is in turmoil and the Council is a democratically elected representative body.”

It is no coincidence that Mr. Bloomberg cited voices from the city’s opinion leaders. With a fiscal crisis at hand, the business leaders of New York has already held a private referendum and decided who the next mayor should be. So in spite of his rather breathtaking grab for another term, there will be no opprobrium forthcoming from the editorial pages of the city’s newspapers.

Before Mr. Bloomberg took this controversial step — remember when Rudolph W. Giuliani got clobbered for seeking three more months in office after Sept. 11? — he made the rounds and locked up the support of the editorial pages of The New York Post, The New York Times and The Daily News, three city newspapers not known for moving in lock step.

The announcement last Thursday had everything to do with how power moves, but the normal components of the political process were nowhere in sight: Instead of checking the mood of party leaders, the mayor consulted his familiars in the business world.

A simple question about what party Mr. Bloomberg would run on behalf of brought a sniff from the dais. “This is not the time for politics,” he said.

Of course not. And why not throw democracy in there too, the part about the people voting in both 1993 and 1995 to limit all city officials to two terms? This is the Great Man theory of politics, a collective reflex of a moneyed oligarchy that has its hands on the levers of power.

Mr. Bloomberg … may well have the skills to maneuver the city through these hard times. It is just not very democratic, big or small D, and not very pretty to watch. (If The Daily News were to update its headline from the 1975 fiscal crisis, it might read: “City Leaders to Voters: Drop Dead!”)