A plot to unblock paid sick leave by going around Quinn

Christine Quinn. (Dana Rubinstein)
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Advocates of a bill to mandate paid sick time may have found a way to bypass the opposition of Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner in this year's mayoral election.

More than seven members of the New York City Council have agreed to sign onto a motion to force a vote on paid sick leave, should the bill's sponsor, Gale Brewer, introduce it, according to a source involved in the paid sick leave campaign.

Neither Brewer nor Quinn had any immediate comment.

At the present, the paid sick leave legislation has the support of a veto-proof majority in the City Council.

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But Quinn has refused to let the Council vote on the legislation.

There's a way to contravene the speaker's will in this sort of situation. It's called a motion to discharge, and during Quinn's tenure as speaker, no one has dared use it.

Not only must the bill's sponsor, in this case Brewer, introduce the motion, which she has not yet indicated she will do, but she must win the support of at least seven additional members.

According to the source, she has more than that.

Paid sick leave has become one of the animating issues of the mayoral campaign.

All of the Democratic mayoral candidates but Quinn support some version of the bill. And during some of the mayoral forums that have already taken place, audiences have booed Quinn for her position on the matter.

The political calculus for Quinn is a tricky one.

She's won the support of business in her bid for mayor, not to mention the tacit endorsement of Bloomberg, who's ideologically opposed to the idea of paid sick leave.

But Quinn is also running in a Democratic primary whose electorate leans very far left.

In that sense, it might actually be a political gift for her if the paid sick leave supporters do an end-run around her with a motion to discharge, forcing a vote. It would effectively take an issue off the table for the mayor's race that stands to hurt Quinn for as long as it lingers, while giving the speaker plausible deniability with her backers in the business establishment.

Perhaps not coincidentally, after months of blocking the vote, Quinn mentioned recently the possibility of her opposition becoming moot because of the theoretical ability of seven councilmembers to get around her with a discharge motion.