‘Deeply saddened’ after a Times column, Quinn tries to make Chirlane McCray’s comments stick

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Quinn at a press conference outside City Hall. (Reid Pillifant)
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After a sweltering press conference on two policing bills that will come before the Council tomorrow, Christine Quinn told reporters that the corrected remarks Chirlane McCray made in a Maureen Dowd column, about the speaker's inability to connect with families, were just as hurtful as the original report.

"If you read the update, Maureen says basically that the sentiment is the same," said Quinn, of the remarks made by McCray, the wife of Bill de Blasio.

"And I agree with Maureen that the sentiment is the same. And that sentiment to me is really saddening and troubling. I don't understand why Ms. McCray or why the public advocate sitting next to her would allow statements to be made that clearly indicate that somehow I am not able to willing to listen to women, listen to families, serve women and families who have children, because I don't have children."

Quinn was prepared for the question. Her aide steered the discussion to off-topic questions after several on policing, and the speaker responded with a speech that included references to her record and her family.

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She cited her "countless conversations" with individual family members that led her to push for a new law mandating kindergarten throughout New York City, and her work to enact "Manny's Law" in Albany, that required hospitals to notify uninsured patients about the availability of medical care.

"I don't really understand the comment that I might not be able to understand or have conversations," she said. "I picked up the phone and found [Manny's mother] Levia [Prieto] out in Suffolk after she lost her child. Look, I have no idea the pain of what losing a child is like. None at all. But I know the pain of losing a family member and when I saw what that woman was going through, I found her, so we could aid her, and so we could get Albany to pass a law in memory of her child."

De Blasio has long put his family at the forefront of his campaign, but has generally taken care not to say anything that could be construed as a personal judgment on any of his rivals, as Quinn has construed McCray's. 

"I think it's just inappropriate and really saddening for people to comment on other people's family," Quinn said, still responding to the first question on the subject. "I have a family. In my apartment, my wife and I, we're a family. Our ten nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and nephews, we're a family. My father and I, Kim's dad, we're a family. When I took care of my mother when she was dying, that's a family. Kim and I lost our mothers. People make personal decisions, for medical reasons or all kinds of reasons, go into why people or do or don't have children.

"And no one should comment about that or make it a political issue, and no one should comment on this—my family, as if it's something that makes me less capable of being an elected official. I have delivered and cared about and advocated for and fought for the families and women of New York City every day of my career. Every day. And no one has done it harder than I have, and i will continue to do it in whatever capacity. … So I'm really really just deeply saddened by these comments. And I think that the longer version is as upsetting as the original."

ABC7 reporter Dave Evans asked Quinn, whose temper was the subject of a big piece in the Times, whether she was "angry" when she first read the comments.

"Honestly, Dave, I wasn't angry," she said. "I was really sad. I was sad and I was hurt. I was obviously in my home this morning when I was reading the newspaper. And Kim was there, she hadn't gone to work yet. And it was hurtful.

"It was hurtful to think that somehow the integrity of our lives, the integrity of the decisions we make about our lives and our family, were called into question by other people in a political context. It made me really sad, it didn't make me mad, it made me sad that the political attacks in this race have gotten to that point."

The comments in question from McCray came in response to a question from Dowd about why Quinn hasn't been more successful in appealing to female voters. 

McCray said, "I don’t, I don't see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, I mean, issues in the workplace. She's not speaking to any of those issues.

"What can I say? And she's not, she's not accessible. She's not the kind of person that I feel that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling."