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Friday, March 29, 2013

Quinn Deflates de Blasio's Campaign Theme With Paid Sick Deal

“It protects people, protects small businesses and I’m incredibly proud with this final piece of legislation,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as she stood with her fellow lawmakers on the steps of City Hall to officially announce the 'Paid Sick Leave' agreement, which was reached Thursday night. 

Under the bill proposed, businesses with 20 or more employees would be required to provide five paid sick days to their workers beginning April 1, 2014 and to businesses with 15 or more employees by October 1, 2015. Quinn called it a “good, strong, and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of everyday New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face.”

For Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the deal orchestrated by his main rival in the Democratic mayoral primary wasn't good enough. In an email to his supporters, de Blasio decried the deal. “For three years, Speaker Quinn did the bidding of Mayor Bloomberg and the big business lobby by single-handedly blocking paid sick leave,” his campaign manager, Bill Hyers, wrote. “Speaker Quinn has agreed to allow a vote on an incomplete version of paid sick leave. While something is better than nothing, the tragic truth is this weakened measure leaves over 300,000 New Yorkers behind.”

However, the real measure of whom the bill would be helping or hurting is to be seen in terms of political muscle stretching and the race to the left. Quinn, who was heckled at forums and pushed to the wall to agree on sick pay leave, may turned out to be the big winner, while de Blasio, who used the piece of legislation as the main theme of his campaign, may be left without any air in the balloon going into the critical months of the campaign.

"Unlike Comptroller John Liu or even Thompson, de Blasio expended a lot of political capital on paid sick days," writes Ross Barkan. "Blurring the lines of his public advocate office and campaign, he created a paid sick days clock and repeatedly demanded the bill not “be watered down.” With a bill passed, de Blasio must find a different issue to galvanize his progressive base. Arguing that a bill, set to become law, isn’t strong enough is probably not a compelling enough issue to fire up voters."

"If Christine Quinn didn't just disarm Bill de Blasio, she has at least neutralized one of the most powerful weapons in his arsenal," writes Dana Rubenstein in Capital New York. "It was perhaps the marquee issue in his bid for the outer-borough, minority, and brownstone Brooklyn liberals most likely to be resistant to supporting the ungratifyingly pragmatic, Manhattan-based Council speaker who facilitated Bloomberg's third term. No longer."

Standing alone at the steps of City Hall at noon, Mr. de Blasio told reporters: "It's obvious politics got to be too much for her."

"But in the final analysis, this bill leaves out too many New Yorkers and it takes too long," de Balasio said at the press conference on the steps of City Hall. The Public Advocate emphasized the urgent need to guarantee essential paid sick leave protections to all -- not some -- employees in New York City. 

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