New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn just exhibited another example of her blatant misuse of power in furtherance of her own ambitions.
Quinn’s Tammany Hall-style of governing has threatened our democratic electoral process for 2013. That should worry all New Yorkers as they now begin to focus on who may become the city’s new CEO in the post-Bloomberg era.
Let me explain. Every 10 years, the City Council district lines, 51 in all, are redrawn by a districting commission, five out of 15 members of which are appointed by the City Council speaker.
That this is not done by an independent group, free of political influence, is a crying shame, but that’s a fight for a different day.
This year, after numerous sparsely attended public hearings, the commission drew lines that reportedly had little time to be reviewed by the speaker or other good government groups.
However, most troubling, one of Speaker Quinn’s members, Erik Dilan of Brooklyn, was able to get the commission to tweak the boundaries to facilitate alleged serial sexual groper, Vito Lopez’s run for a council seat in 2013. Quinn had to know about this request before it was approved.
Would an honest speaker have prevented this last-minute travesty? Yes.
Would an honest speaker have shut down this political trickery the minute it was revealed? Yes.
All that we need for evil to flourish is for good people to look away and do nothing. One-party rule in New York City has gone on for so long that corruption has become so commonplace it is no longer recognized. Yet when the media exposed this outrageous turn of events, the speaker, wanting to avoid public exposure of her flawed decision, decided to reject the proposed lines.
What does that mean? Due to the speaker’s incompetence and Dilan’s shady move, we will now not have approved lines till late February 2013, at best, hurting the chances of new council candidates who are challenging incumbents.
Her decision in the district lines approval process has virtually assured chaos and a huge advantage for incumbents, if the primary date in the mayor’s race is changed to June.
This is a leader who once before subverted the democratic process by going against the twice-affirmed will of the people and legislatively changed term limits to allow herself and her fellow incumbents a third term.
Furthermore, let us not forget her member item slush fund scandal and the three Council members under her direction who have been indicted or have gone to jail, including the recently convicted Larry Seabrook.
This is not ineptitude or dishonesty due to lack of intelligence or know how. Instead, it is the result of a common pattern of cynicism. Christine Quinn puts her political ambitions ahead of the public good again and again and no one challenges her for this.
Whether term limits or member items and now redistricting, her approach has always been to play the angles for her own gain and advancement.
We need a mayor who is focused on the needs of New Yorkers, not on their own ambition.
Tom Allon is a 2013 candidate for Mayor of New York City.