Bill de Blasio’s rapid response to the Christine Quinn conniption

Bill de Blasio with a megaphone. (Dan Rosenblum)
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Though Public Advocate Bill de Blasio only came out in support of "living wage" legislation in December, he wasted little time capitalizing on Council Speaker's Christine Quinn's awkward defense of Michael Bloomberg's honor yesterday afternoon.

On Monday, Quinn, who, like de Blasio, is running for mayor in 2013, appeared at a press conference hailing an imminent City Council vote on living wage legislation, which would require some recipients of economic development subsidies to pay their employees $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without.

Quinn was initially reluctant to back the legislation, which is strongly supported by unions but opposed by the mayor, and allowed it to come up for a vote in the Council only after significantly scaling down its scope. 

At the press conference, Quinn acknowledged all of the councilmembers in attendance, and was poised to begin her remarks, when a volunteer living-wage supporter from the Bronx named Carlos Pacheco yelled out, "Everybody but Pharaoh Bloomberg."

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Quinn turned around, laced into the heckler and then stormed off, leaving the audience stunned. By all appearances, Quinn was attempting to take an opportunity to put herself very firmly on the record in favor of civil discourse, but then sort of made a hash of it, got flustered, and bolted. She attempted to manage the coverage at another press conference shortly afterward, announcing that she was, in fact, strongly opposed to Bloomberg on the living wage, and was merely trying to make a point about the rhetoric that she would like to see used to express that opposition.

But de Blasio, who was elected to his current office with crucial, controversial backing from organized labor, saw an opening, and pounced. He told the Wall Street Journal, of Quinn, "If she believes in what this whole movement is about, she should have stayed and made her point.

Referring to living-wage supporters, he told the New York Post, “They’re angry; they’re energized to create change. Of course they’re going to feel angry at Mayor Bloomberg."

And in the Times de Blasio says, "You came here with a group of people who care about this issue, who are miffed that the mayor will sue and litigate against it—I think she needs to respect that’s what people are feeling and stick with it."

None of the other Democrats contending for mayor were quoted in any of those stories.

De Blasio, remember, used to be a high-powered political operative before he gave it up to run for public office. 

His office declined to comment for this article.