Sunday, October 12, 2008
Anyone paying attention knew how City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood on the Mayor's scheme to extend term limits long before Bloomberg formally announced his intentions. Today, Quinn used the political cover of a slow Sunday news cycle to make public her embarrassing position.
Surprise, surprise. She's for staying Speaker another four years.
Once upon a time, Quinn would have said "no" to extending term limits. Almost three years ago, she roared into the second most powerful job in the City with all the promise that being both New York City's first female and first LGBT Council Speaker carried with it. She was a darling of the City's progressives - a dynamic figure that would set the City free of the pro-establishment tilt that had long characterized the Council. The day she got into office the buzz that she would be New York's next Mayor began.
Then reality reared its ugly head. Quinn quickly became everything her supporters abhorred. She turned her back on progressives, good government advocates and the LGBT community. Instead, she decided to replace Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum as the Mayor's most obedient ally. As the Times reports, "Jokes about Ms. Quinn being a deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration abound in the Council."
But that was just the beginning of Quinn's fall from grace. Up until several months ago, Quinn still had illusions (or delusions) of becoming New York City's first female Mayor. Then came the slush fund scandal. Under Quinn's leadership, the Council expanded its longtime illegal practice of "squirreling away millions of dollars in the name of made-up organizations". If you don't understand why that's so bad, check out this article.
Quinn tried to blame the scandal on two of her aides, but no one except the most gullible of reporters was buying. The steady stream of big money contributions Quinn was getting in preparation for a Mayoral run quickly started to dry up. Two of Brooklyn Councilman Kendall Stewart's top aides got indicted for their role in the bogus bonanza. Quinn, herself, hired a criminal defense attorney, using City funds to do so.
In short, Quinn's dreams of Gracie Mansion fell apart. She could never run for Mayor now that a major investigation and the word "scandal" hung heavily over her head. The end of her Council term in 2009 was shaping up to be the end of her political career.
Enter Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor's proposal to save his own job was a godsend for Quinn. Four more years would mean that Quinn could have a chance at redemption - a chance for people to forget. If she could escape the slush fund scandal unscathed (I wonder if Mayor Mike might help her here?), four years from now she might once again be a viable candidate for mayor. Gosh darn it to heck, it worked good enough for John McCain to win his party's nomination for President twenty years after the Keating Five scandal almost sunk him.
Four years from now expect to hear Mayoral candidate Quinn argue that all is forgotten. Whether it will be is up to government investigators and, of course, you to decide.