Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quinn for Deputy Mayor

Yesterday's Page 6 item in the NY Post did create a stir, didn't it? Even the mayor was forced to comment on the rumor, cleverly labeled a Quinn pro quo, that Speaker Quinn would resign to become one of his deputy mayors: "City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support for a term-limit extension for Mayor Bloomberg comes at a price, according to City Hall insiders. They say that Quinn , who has lost the confidence of her colleagues, will not be re-elected speaker. Rather than go back to being an ordinary council member and have to give up her big staff and SUV, Quinn will leave the council and become a deputy mayor under Bloomberg."

Liz B got the mayor's reaction-and the effusiveness would prompt some snide "go get a room," comments from the Bloomberg/Quinn detractors who have chaffed under the coalition government-with Quinn as the decidedly junior partner; and given the closeness of the relationship it's assured, should the arrangement actually occur, that the transition would be a seamless one. Here's the mayor on his putative dance partner: "I think Christine Quinn, if she wasn't in government, would have enormous opportunities in the private sector as well as the public sector," Bloomberg said before stepping off for the annual Columbus Day parade. "She's shown that she is smart and she's got a good feel for people. She's pulled people together rather than pulling them apart."

Whew! We're puzzled, however, that so many good folks aren't as enamored with the speaker as Mayor Mike is; perhaps it's an old variant of whose ox is being gored-and whose is being barbecued for dinner. We did notice that, at least so far, no one other than the mayor has weighed in on the gossip. We do believe that the vote in favor of extension would be a lot larger if Quinn made a public announcement that it was her intention to leave for the other side of city hall.

We're really not convinced, though, that Quinn is quite ready to leave-and the Crain's story this week lays out the case: "Some observers, however, say Ms. Quinn has played her cards well. Criticism of the extension has focused almost entirely on the mayor, probably by design. Mr. Bloomberg can better withstand it because he enjoys high approval ratings, is widely seen as uniquely qualified to lead the city during a financial crisis and can overwhelm any resistance with a $100 million re-election campaign."

One thing's for sure, the end game here for all involved is uncertain. For those who thinks she's dead woman walking, this Crain's observation is worth taking into consideration: "Ms. Quinn needs only to win re-election in her West Side council district, then persuade a majority of the 51 council members to return her as speaker. The latter isn't a given, some members say, as her closeness with the mayor has weakened the council as an institution. But many would back Ms. Quinn if she can give them the third term they so desperately want."

Incumbency is a powerful thing, and the old saw about the devil you know is applicable here. Would anyone want to bet on the independence and courage of her opponents on the council?