As the Council convened a hearing on the contentious bill, Quinn’s mayoral rivals – John Liu, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson– pounded her for refusing to allow it to go to a vote.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn was under siege Friday over legislation that would force businesses to give their employees paid sick days.
As the Council convened a hearing on the contentious bill, Quinn’s mayoral rivals pounded her for refusing to allow it to go to a vote.
She also took heat from the business groups that oppose the bill — a key constituency she needs for her mayoral bid.
Quinn, who has expressed concerns that the bill could hurt small businesses in a tough economy, was the star of the long-awaited hearing, though she did not ask a single question.
She spoke only briefly, thanking everyone for coming and apologizing for arriving late to the packed council chamber. But while she remained silent, most of the words uttered at the hours-long hearing appeared aimed directly at her.
“By my count, we have been waiting two years and 361 days for a vote,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is vying with Quinn for the Democratic mayoral nod. “I hope this time we will have actual democracy.”
In the moments before the hearing, de Blasio stood with two other mayoral rivals, Controller John Liu and ex-Controller Bill Thompson, in a united front against Quinn.
“If you think it’s not good policy, then vote no,” cried Liu. “But let it come to a vote!”
The bill has created a difficult political situation for Quinn as key voting constituencies have squared off over the bill. Labor union and other liberal advocates [including advocates from Make the Road New York] are on one side, while top business owners — who are generally impressed by Quinn’s close working relationship with Mayor Bloomberg — are on the other.
The Daily News reported Friday that a group of nearly 180 business owners who urged Quinn to defeat the legislation have raised or given nearly $370,000 to her mayoral campaign. Her team insists her stance on the bill is not tied to her big-money donors’ wishes.
As she left the hearing, Quinn said she had heard nothing to change her mind. She said she supports paid sick leave, but believes the current bill is flawed and the city’s economy is too weak to support it.
“Look it’s easy to throw around criticism and rhetoric,” she said. “It is much harder to draft legislation that helps people without causing unnecessary, undo harm. That is the point of this hearing process.”
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