3:24 pm Oct. 5, 2012
Sure, public advocate Bill de Blasio's speech to the city's permanent establishment on Thursday was about early education, taxing the rich, and setting himself up as the liberal alternative for mayor in 2013.
But he also spent a lot of time talking about the relationship between his fellow contender, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I heard what Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn said earlier in the week," said de Blasio at one point, in response to a question from Assemblyman Micah Kellner about their unveiling of some small-business-friendly measures designed to lessen the burden of fees and fines. "With all due respect to them, that's a joke. That's not a real response."
Why is that a joke?
"One of the things that the mayor and speaker said is they would have the agencies evaluate how they're getting the revenues from the small business and whether it's fair or not," said de Blasio.
He said that like's having a fox guarding the henhouse.
De Blasio has a lot to gain by repeatedly referencing Quinn and the mayor as one unit.
Quinn holds early front-runner status, but her longstanding alliance with Bloomberg may be a liability with a substantial portion of the Democratic primary electorate.
Not coincidentally, Quinn has taken pains in recent months to create some distance between herself and the mayor.
What de Blasio is doing, essentially, is blowing the whistle on her.
In a scrum with reporters following de Blasio's speech at the breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York, a reporter asked him to elaborate on his earlier comments calling the speaker's and mayor's efforts a "joke."
"Both in the case of the mayor and Speaker Quinn, you can't have governed over a consistent increase in the level of fines and penalties on small business over years and years and years and then suddenly say you're interested in reform," said de Blasio. "They've talked about reform before, they haven't done it. … What the mayor and the speaker did was lip service. They don't really intend to change it. And they should just come out and say that."
A reporter asked whether he viewed Quinn as an extension of Bloomberg.
"On that kind of issue, she is clearly not challenging the mayor, and you know, working with him to continue a bad policy," he said.
Shouldn't Quinn get some credit for her early championing of universal pre-K?
"You can't do half-measures," said de Blasio. "You have to really do it right ... And I don't think the mayor and the speaker have done that."