4:25 pm Aug. 28, 2012
Today, the leader of a progressive Democratic club demanded that Gale Brewer, the chief sponsor of paid sick leave legislation in the Council, circumvent speaker Christine Quinn to force a vote on the bill.
"I really want a bill, so we're working with the speaker's office and we're gonna hope to get a bill, a real bill," Brewer told Capital Tuesday afternoon.
Though it has support from a veto-proof majority in the Council, Quinn is holding up a vote on a bill that would require businesses, depending on their size, to offer either five or nine days of paid sick leave per year. Businesses with fewer than five employees would only have to offer them five days off, unpaid.
Technically, the Council can vote on the bill without Quinn's approval, through what's known as a "motion to discharge," which is what Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and a Quinn critic, is asking for.
"We call upon Council Member Gale Brewer to exercise her right under the Council rules as chief sponsor of the bill to gather seven supporters and file a discharge motion immediately to move the bill out of committee—where it has never had a vote—and onto the floor of the Council," he said, in the email he sent out today. "If Council Member Brewer refuses to do so, the sponsors of the bill need to select a new chief sponsor who will."
But Brewer isn't biting.
She says she wants a "real bill" and that a bill brought to the floor via a discharge motion wouldn't necessarily be one.
"People would have to vote for it, right?" Brewer said.
The implication is that, even if she could find seven supporters to defy the speaker and bring the bill to a vote, the bill's majority support might vanish in the face of threatened retribution. As Roskoff himself pointed out in his email, Quinn has lots of leverage.
"We are not naïve about what happens when a discharge motion is brought," he writes. "City Council members who dare to stand up to the Speaker will be punished with a loss of personal perks."
"I'm not one of these people who grandstands," said Brewer. "I actually care about the people who don't have paid sick time."
Quinn, who's, running for mayor next year, has been trying to solidify her support in the business community and woo the Democratic primary's left-leaning voters, and she has indicated that she's not inclined to budge from her existing, very nuanced position on the matter: She likes the idea of paid sick leave, but thinks the timing of a new wage mandate is wrong in the current economic climate.