Christine Quinn, Best Bud

The City Council Speaker's conspicuous Sandy presence

Christine Quinn, Best Bud

The Bloomberg administration's handling of the horrific devastation of Hurricane Sandy has an interesting political element to it that most New Yorkers might not have registered.

There, for the TV cameras, alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, was, Zelig-like, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, looking dour and concerned. And there, touring the fire devastation and giving TV news interviews in the Breezy Point section of Queens, alongside a majordomo of state politics, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, was Speaker Christine Quinn. And there chatting in studio with two NBC news anchors, was, once again, Christine Quinn. And again, next to Bloomberg on Tuesday afternoon, there was Quinn.

Although the Democrat has legislative authority over the council, Quinn has no power over the emergency agencies, nor over any of the mayoral agencies, nor over Con-Edison, the National Guard, nor emergency powers relevant to a major crisis like a hurricane. Although she's influential inside the marble corridors of City Hall, she's not so well-known outside of them.

"She's got no executive power," a City Hall observer says. "She can introduce legislation. On the hurricane, she's just backing the mayor on everything when she's supposed to be the person on the other side of City Hall questioning what he does."

So why was she there in the aftermath of the hurricane? It looked a little bit from here like Bloomberg and Schumer (whose wife, Iris Weinshall, was a transportation commissioner under Bloomberg) were giving Quinn a cut of the spotlight to help raise her profile in advance of her mayoral run next year.

You have to wonder whether her possible opponents, including former comptroller Bill Thompson, Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, were grinding their teeth at her presence in the Blue Room. In other words, while Bloomberg can't blatantly campaign for Quinn now, he can certainly give her a platform. Was that all it was about?

"I think this is totally a political ploy," says a former city official. "He's not making endorsements, but he's positioning her very well. Everyone wants to see the press conferences, and she is now a very visible face."

The mayor's office and the Speaker's office did not respond with comment by press time.

Those who followed the tenure of Mayor Rudy Giuliani recall that Speaker Peter Vallone Senior didn't get such invitations until late in Rudy's mayoralty, and most of that took place after the 9/11 attacks. And Comptroller Thompson, who served from 2002 to 2010, got those invitations very, very sparingly from Bloomberg.

As for Quinn, over the years, Mayor Bloomberg has invited her to stand behind him at least once a month. Of course, Quinn did a major favor in turn for Bloomberg by wrangling just enough Council votes to give the mayor a third term. She backed Bloomberg's claim that the declining economy made a third term necessary, but few outside of City Hall bought that, just as they didn't buy Giuliani's unsuccessful claim that 9/11 made a third term necessary for him.

Her oddest presence was when she appeared in August at the side of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at the midtown crime scene, where a crazed gunman murdered a former co-worker and was then shot fatally by police, who also injured nine civilians. Although the incident took place in her district, one wonders whether Kelly thought it was a good idea for her to be present.

 
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9 comments
stanchaz
stanchaz

Get off your fat-I-want-to-be-Mayor-and-can't-rock-te-boat-ASS

...and allow a City Council vote on mandatory sick leave and the curbing of stop-and-frisk.

We don't need another Bloomberg to replcve the current one.

vze2011
vze2011

Of the many things that bothers me about Quinn, one of them is how prior to winning elected office she was a vocal critic of the policy that excluded gays from marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade under their own banner.  She even got arrested several times in protest.  However, after she made it into the City Council she has been practically mum on this issue.  It appears she used the issue to gain name and face recognition, but afterward has abandoned her base

JesseJuice
JesseJuice

Why is there no mention of the fact that the district Quinn represents was one that was hardest hit by the storm. She also happens to live in that district. So, while she was out in the streets speaking for the people of this city and her district, this author sits behind a computer criticizing? Her city needed her and there she was, for hours on end. I usually love village voice articles, but this seems like a stretch and a petty one at that. 

vava5815
vava5815

Who cares who's in the picture?

CityHall1980
CityHall1980

Speaker Christine Quinn belongs in jail for the slush fund scandal.  She submitted the names of charities that did not exist to cover public funds in the city budget for her political agenda. That is a crime called filing of a false instrument.  Her staff is corrupt to the core. Quinn's dirty assistant Maura Keaney pled guilty before the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board for using the Speakers office in an illegal manner.  Keaney's name would later resurface during the course of the political consultant Haggerty felony trial for fraud.  Quinn and the company she keeps is absolute scum.  Please keep up the good work and expose these criminals for what they are.   

DonnyMoss
DonnyMoss

Thank you for reporting on this!   Most NYers probably have no idea that Quinn has no business being included in these press conferences.   Bloomberg's egregious promotion of Quinn, whose victory would represent a 4th term for Bloomberg, is an angle that all media outlets should expose.

stanchaz
stanchaz

I'm takin to you , Christine Quinn.

donnymoss
donnymoss

 @vze2011 While criticizing the exclusion of gays in public, she funds the parade with our tax dollars.  She pumps her fists in the air at gay events, but, behind the scenes, she has sold the community down the river time and again when politically expedient.   

JesseJuice
JesseJuice

 @vze2011 Quinn's fought hard for the LGBT community. At some point you have to stop beating a dead horse and move on to battles you can actually win. 

 
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