Advocates Think they Can Capitalize on Bloomberg's Stumbles in Living Wage Push

A number of elected officials are gathering in Harlem tonight to push for a bill that would require a living wage on all projects that receive a city subsidy of over $100,000.

And advocates say that they think that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent stumbles and attendant dip in popularity have created an opening to push through a bill.

“I think we can capitalize on Bloomberg’s vulnerabilities,” said one advocate. “After the snow debacle and everything else the mayor is seen as out of touch with the rest of the city.”

Backers of the living wage measure note that Bloomberg pushed for a third term by arguing that he was uniquely qualified to lead the city out of the financial doldrums, and they hope to trip him up with his own words by arguing that the bill would benefit the wallets of city residents. 

Christine Quinn has not come down on either side of the measure yet, but advocates appear to be trying to hold up her own words as well to insure passage. When Quinn shelved the paid sick leave bill earlier this year, she said that she would not do anything which would hurt small businesses as the economy continues to be in the doldrums. Today, Sally Goldenberg reported in The Post that revised legislation would exempt small businesses that make less than $1 million.

Support for the measure does appear to be growing beyond the Progressive Caucus, the group of Working Families Party-backed council members who have pushed for more liberal economic policies. Dan Garodnick, considered something of a moderate on the Council, signaled to supporters of the measure that he supports it.

So far, the mayor has given no indication that he supports the measure. He lashed out at the Council in 2009 when they killed a project to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory by insisting that the developer pay a living wage.

Supporters of the measure though are optimistic that he can be persuaded.

“As more people come out for this it becomes hard for him to hold on to a certain level of popularity that he needs to move the city forward,” said one. “The plan is to isolate the mayor and make this a clear choice between  ignoring the plight of the working poor, on the one hand, and a City Council and grassroots movement that increasingly understands the urgency of addressing that plight and the ways in which the living wage bill will boost the city’s economy.” 

The city’s Economic Development Corporation has paid $1 million for an outside consultant to analyze the effects that living wage measures have.  That report is due in the spring, and opponents of the bill fear that backers are trying to push the measure through the Council before the report is complete.

And although Bloomberg may be the target of tonight’s rally, there will be other political intrigue as well as many of those trying to replace him will be speaking, among them Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who led the fight against Kingsbridge, and City Comptroller John Liu, who pushed the city’s first living wage bill through the Council in 2002.

Advocates Think they Can Capitalize on Bloomberg's Stumbles in Living Wage Push