Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Living (Wage) Lie

The attempt by Speaker Quinn to have her cake and eat in on the living wage bill is apparently falling apart. According to the NY Times: "The long battle over a measure that would raise the wages of workers whose companies receive subsidies from New York City took a surprising turn on Wednesday, when a previously undisclosed loophole was scrapped, prompting a major business group to withdraw its support for the measure."

Loophole, what loophole? It appears that the cagey Quinn was looking to give the mayor a right to exempt any project from the provisions of the law-a great idea for crony capitalists: "The business group, the Partnership for New York City, had agreed to support the bill, which would require companies receiving city subsidies to pay their workers more than the minimum wage, on the condition that it include a provision allowing the mayor’s office to waive the requirements in certain cases."

So, you'd have a law that the mayor (whoever she is) could abrogate for her friends. What happens to those who are big political contributors? Well, they would have sucked wind, as the saying goes. But there is something fishy going on with all this because as soon as the Speaker dropped the provision we found out the following: "But on Wednesday evening, the office of Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, revealed that the waiver provision, a sticking point in talks with a critical labor union, was being dropped. Minutes later, the president of the partnership, Kathryn S. Wylde, released a statement saying that the group was withdrawing its support."

Sounds like a coordinated action with the speaker looking as if she's at odds with the business group that she has been courting. But there's one problem with this, it still leaves the Hudson Yards development outside the law's reach-and the two developers, Related and Vornado, will be very appreciative of the speaker's dispensation:

"Although the mayoral waiver has now been dropped, an exemption for companies involved in part of the Hudson Yards project, a 26-acre mixed-use development along the city’s Far West Side, appeared likely to stay in the bill. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Ms. Quinn said that the final version of the bill would “more than likely” include an exemption for Hudson Yards."

What this all comes down to is that Quinn, the former community organizer, has become the heir apparent to Bloomberg's crony capitalist economic development policies-after all, Willets Point was supposed to include a living wage requirement but that has disappeared along with all of the other broken promises. (