Quinn Proposes Changes, Faces Questions

Christine Quinn just finished an hour-long press conference where she said she’ll create an independent monitor to oversee how her office allocates money, but faced an onslaught of questions about these and other changes were being made now, and not when she discovered improper financial dealings at the Council late last year. The improper practices were made public earlier this month.

Quinn told reporters today that she felt it was more important to bring the wrongdoing to the attention of the authorities, who are now looking into the matter.

“I have not done this job perfectly — I will not do this job perfectly,” said Quinn at City Hall, where she was joined at the event by good-government activists Dick Dadey of Citizens Union and Gene Russianoff of N.Y.P.I.R.G. and several Council members.

In describing more of the “historic” financial reforms, Quinn also said she’ll create a searchable database of all funding requests made my City Council members, and the portion of the budget that deals with those requests, called Schedule C’s, will be made available 24 before they’re voted on.

Quinn also said the mid-year budget requests, which normally arise after mistakes and omissions in the budget are discovered, will now be voted on by the entire finance committee and, later, by the full council.

Quinn declined to say how the previous budget process broke down, or who was to blame for it. She also declined to give herself a grade as a reformer, saying, “I’m not going to grade myself mid-test.”

On the last question of the 58-minute press conference, where she was asked to clarify whether she alerted the mayor’s office, Quinn said, “At different points of the process when we felt different city entities needed to be made aware, we made them aware.”

UPDATE: Councilman John Liu reacts negatively:

“These so-called reforms are nothing more than back-pedaling that unfortunately weakens the Council as a legislative counter-balance to the executive branch of government. It’s amazing how naked ambition to the mayoralty can result in the leader of the legislative body becoming the body’s own worst enemy. It’s fine for Speaker Quinn to try and fix things in her own administration, but don’t tie the hands of future Councils.

“If you get caught with your hands in the cookie jar, just let go of the cookies and remove your hand, and maybe give yourself a slap on the wrist. But do not tie the hands of all the successors.”