Friday, January 06, 2006

Further Advice to Speaker Quinn

Since everyone is weighing in on just what kind of an agenda Chris Quinn should be pursuing in her next four years as Speaker John Avlon felt that he should as well. His analysis, however, falls into the same line of thinking that we have already taken issue with. Put simply, Avlon sees all reform from the "take the politics out of politics" vantage point.

Which is precisely why he places so much hope on the mayor's reform impulses. He sees the mayor's money as the necessary insulation from the dreaded special interest taint. Now we'd be foolhardy if we didn't acknowledge the fact that special interest corruption can undermine democratic politics. The burgeoning scandal surrounding the lobbyist Jack Abramoff is a reminder of the need to always be vigilant.

This perspective, however, misses some important key points. The reform impulse also needs vision and talent. As far as the mayor is concerned the jury is still out. His background, temperament and lack of either policy vision or passion makes him unlikely to be the kind of leader to tackle some of the issues that Avlon feels he should.

In addition, when it comes to NYC the "permanent government" that Avlon refers is not only comprised of the "unelected" party bosses. As Jack Newfield highlighted this power elite in New York rests on a distinctly real estate foundation. Yet when it comes to this special interest it appears that Mike Bloomberg, because of his outlook, is in perfect sync.

Mayor Mike's big development perspective serves the interests of the Related's and the Vronodos very well indeed. What remains to be determined is how well Speaker Quinn will do in providing the kind of institutional checks that will put a brake on the kind of development that is epitomized by the sweetheart deal at the BTM. Reform of the land use process and the crafting of an accountable development policy is just the kind of "local political reform" that is greatly needed but passes under Avlon's particular political radar.