Only days after railing against the entire slate of Democratic mayoral candidates for playing politics with people’s lives–a big failing, he suggested, as public safety is “the most important job of any mayor, period”–Mayor Michael Bloomberg heaped heavy praise on one of those would-be successors.
“Chris Quinn has done a very good job as speaker,” Mr. Bloomberg declared during his weekly WOR radio show this morning. “Whether you’re going to vote for her or not, she has been a very good speaker. The city has been very well served by her. I don’t think that she gets enough credit for it.”
The mayor also offered strong words in Ms. Quinn’s defense yesterday. During his final budget speech, Mr. Bloomberg praised her “great leadership,” adding, “We’ve had the blessing of having her for the last eight years, or seven-and-a-half years.” He reiterated that he’s going to stay out of the mayoral race for the time being, however.
Mr. Bloomberg, similarly echoing comments he made a month ago in the wake of corruption charges against Councilman Dan Halloran, went on to defend the City Council’s discretionary spending practices. Critics, including sitting Council members, have accused Ms. Quinn of withholding funding as political punishment. Some good-government advocates have further called for a complete end to the member item process.
“The press goes onto her about member items or whatever we call them,” Mr. Bloomberg continued today. “Each level of government has them. Number one, that’s the way you manage a legislative body. And number two, that gets you down to granular [level], to get services at the local level—which we should. It’s not a lot of money and we don’t waste any of it and we check every single thing. She has gotten beaten up on that and it’s just totally unfair. But just generally, she has done a very good job.”
Mr. Bloomberg, who has been pilloried by progressive advocates during his tenure, also warned about union contracts, quoting an unnamed source who told him the City Council will be “a lot more liberal after this next election,” when Ms. Quinn is term-limited out.
“Some of these people say, ‘Oh, we’re going to get big retroactive raises’ or ‘I’m not going to vote for that mayoral candidate.’ If you gave big retroactive raises, you would have to increase property taxes 50 percent,” he argued. “I did not think it was going to happen. And then somebody yesterday said to me, ‘Well, the City Council is very liberal and it’s going to be a lot more liberal after this next election.’”
He added, “And who knows who the speaker’s going to be.”