Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quinn Critiques Bloomberg: Sky Doesn't Fall

The Politicker has an interesting little report on how uncomfortable Speaker Quinn was at the Council's Stated Meeting when the body was overriding the mayor's veto on a bill to pay services workers:

"Council Speaker Christine Quinn seemed a bit flustered at a news conference before the City Council’s monthly stated meeting. She spoke louder and faster than usual. She interrupted herself at one point to take a long drink from a glass of water underneath the podium...If Ms. Quinn seemed a bit anxious, perhaps it was the City Council was today voting to override a veto by her erstwhile ally, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on legislation that would require the tenants in city-owned buildings to pay service workers a prevailing wage, and voting on another bill that would set up examine how financial institutions where the city does its banking serve local communities."

The mayor's objection? The usual hypocrisy about "meddling" in the private sector: "Asked by a reporter about comments by the mayor which suggested that the City Council was telling private enterprise what to pay employees, Ms, Quinn, said that her bill was merely engaging in the free enterprise system in the same way that Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development strategy was."

Here here. One cheer for Quinn-who goes on to elaborate on the mayor's hypocrisy: "The mayor has also said this is kind of mixing in the marketplace, but if you think about it the entire economic development package of the City of New York, hundreds of millions of dollars, is mixing in the marketplace to try to cause positive things to happen for the public interest,” she said."

And Quinn is absolutely right-but she falls far short of taking the argument to its ultimate conclusion: that the mayor believes when he intervenes it is in the public interest, but only when he does it! After all, both Bloomberg and Quinn enthusiastically supported the Willets Point development-and what could be a more profound meddling in the free enterprise system than actually taking away someone's property and giving it over to a favored developer?

And when Bloomberg subsidizes Related to build a mall at the Kingsbridge Armory it is also meddling-using tax payer dollars to generate retail competitors against existing store owners in the area. So Quinn is right and the mayor should refrain from using the meddling argument-it is rank hypocrisy. What he should say is that there are times when it is good to meddle and times when it is bad to meddle-and that I am the only legitimate arbiter of the decision when to intervene. That at least would be honest.