2:29 pm Oct. 19, 2012
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio dismissed news that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will hold a hearing on the much-discussed Paid Sick Leave bill, saying it is a "stalling" tactic and a "meeting to nowhere."
He also questioned whether Quinn, a likely rival in next year's mayor's race, had the "guts" to hold a vote on the bill.
Quinn, who opposes the bill, says she's holding the hearing next month in reaction to changes made to the original bill by Councilman Dan Garodnick in an effort to make it less onerous to restaurants and other small businesses.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is staunchly opposed to the bill in any form.
"The reason I'm talking to you today is, she called a hearing," de Blasio said to a handful of reporters this morning. "To what end? This is another one of those clever stall tactics."
"It's not democracy. It's not actually moving this bill to a vote. It's another way of eating up the clock."
He added, "Why doesn't she have the guts to bring it to the floor and fight it if she wants to fight it?"
De Blasio acknowledged there is a mechanism by which a Council bill can be forced onto the floor and be voted on but initially dismissed it as "difficult." (Actually, it's not.)
When I asked de Blasio what was so difficult about it, he said the "motion to discharge" maneuver had, to his recollection, never been used under Quinn, and members would feel uncomfortable going that route. But, he said, it was an option supporters of the bill were considering.
Asked about de Blasio's comments afterward, Quinn described her handling of the bill as perfectly ordinary.
"We are taking things in their orderly process ... and that requires a hearing," she said.
I asked what she expected to learn from hearing, since the bill has been around for some time (900 days, according to de Blasio) and the amendments are pretty straightforward.
She said the hearing was a chance not only to learn more about the bill but to provide a forum for "the public's right to express their opinion."
Quinn also reiterated her opposition to the bill, saying it was the "wrong economic time" to pass it.
"I want to be very clear about that," she said. "That has not changed."