Last week, we reported on the Community Safety Act–a big legislative package floating around City Council that is espousing serious comments from everyone involved, including the Mayor, NYPD Commish Ray Kelly, and a handful of your mayoral hopefuls.
The main stipulation of the bill under fire calls for an inspector general, a position that would oversee the actions of the Boys in Blue. Bloomberg and Kelly have both stated that the position would add another layer of bureaucracy, stalling an agency that needs to be fast on its toes. And, against their will, it had the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who argued that, in light of recent controversies involving surveillance and stop-and-frisk, an inspector general was needed now more than ever.
So it was only a matter of time before this happened.
In a move that posits Joe Lhota directly in opposition with Quinn for the first time in this race, the Republican frontrunner and Giuliani apostle held a conference at City Hall yesterday. There, he lambasted the Speaker for supporting such a “reckless and dangerous” proposal. He even threw in a pun for fun: that the measure would “handcuff” NYPD procedure.
Aside from the strange undertones of Giuliani, the comments made by Lhota confirm yet another major theme that we predicted last week: The NYPD’s activities will shape up to be the hot-button issue of this mayoral election.
Here’s the sequence of Lhota thought: An inspector general would add more time to decisions; the NYPD wouldn’t do its job as well; already-increasing crime rates would skyrocket; New York would return to Taxi Driver days, reverting all “successes” won by Giuliani and extended throughout the Bloomberg years. Lhota’s case is basic: it’s a preservation of Giuliani-Bloomberg law and order, plain and simple.
If that position doesn’t show off his old boss’s law enforcement flares, we’re not sure what can.
The Quinn camp’s rebuttal quickly flattened the criticism: Spokesperson Jamie McShane stated that the Republican candidate “does not know what he is talking about”–the bill wouldn’t do anything to bureaucratic speed. A solid “no” to Lhota’s criticism; that’s as straightforward as you can get.
But where does this leave Quinn? If the NYPD is a central theme of this election, the speaker has put herself in an interesting position. By honoring this bill and remaining on the fence about stop-and-frisk, she has removed herself from Bloomberg’s shadow on crime–a legacy that in terms of policy encompasses the Giuliani administration as well. As a result, the pro-stop-and-frisk Lhota is slowly becoming the face of both Giuliani and Bloomberg on this issue.
Hence why the mayor called Quinn’s support of the bill an “election-year ploy”: He’s pissed that his go-to candidate in City Hall is no longer his “go-to.” But that’s Quinn’s campaign strategy: she doesn’t want to be his “go-to” anymore as she moves more in line with the Democratic counterparts (see: her support for paid sick days bill).
So he’s just gonna have to deal with that. Let the debates begin.