Council Members Planning to Bypass Quinn on Multiple Bills, Sources Say

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As the spotlight shines on mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn’s record as City Council Speaker, at least half a dozen members are considering forcing measures she opposes to the floor in an unprecedented display of rebellion, Council sources said Friday.

At least one member has already collected the seven signatures needed to file two motion to discharge petitions to bypass Ms. Quinn—a tactic that was threatened in the paid sick leave fight, but that no member has dared yet under her tenure.

The move comes after Ms. Quinn surprised her colleagues this week by announcing her opposition to legislation that would allow people to sue the NYPD in state court for racial profiling–but said that she would nonetheless allow the measure to go to vote.

It would be the first time under Ms. Quinn’s tenure that a bill would pass without her vote.

“The Speaker is allowing a bill to come to the floor for the first time that she doesn’t support, so now there are many of us who have bills which the Speaker does not support who are going to take a serious look at exercising the same option,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. told Politicker Friday.

Mr. Vallone said that he is seriously considering using the tactic to push forward two stalled bills that he has sponsored: one that would remove fluoride from the water supply and another that would give communities notice and attempt to regulate the placement of cell phone antennas.

He is also among seven members who have signed onto a discharge motion on a resolution calling for church groups to be allowed to meet in public school buildings. Another bill moving forward, sources said, would establish a “Tenants Bill of Rights.”

Mr. Vallone’s plan to use the tactic was first reported Friday by the New York Post. But sources said the plotting extends far beyond his office.

Members have long been fearful of crossing Ms. Quinn because of the enormous power she wields. She has repeatedly been accused of withholding member money from those who cross her–a charge the Speaker’s office has repeatedly denied.

But members considering the tactic said their resolve has grown as Ms. Quinn’s record as Speaker has come under greater scrutiny in recent weeks, both by the press and by her mayoral rivals, who have slammed her repeatedly at debates and other events for her decision to delay the paid sick leave vote and called for reforms to the member item system.

“This is occurring because there’s a real sense in which members want to experience true democracy,” said one Council source, who said the New York Times story on Ms. Quinn’s temper had also made them feel more confident that she would be held accountable if members pushing their legislation saw budget cuts.

“Now members are starting to feel that there’s a level of transparency that they perhaps feel wasn’t there before,” said the source. “Everybody’s watching her.”

Another Council source said they expected more members to test the tactic once budget season is over at the end of June and they no longer have to worry about the potential loss of funding for their districts.

“There were rumblings that paid sick was going to be the one that broke the flood gate before this,” he said, adding: “It’s going to be interesting.”

Whether fellow members are willing to vote for legislation introduced without the Speaker’s blessing remains to be seen.