UPPER EAST SIDE — Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson's recent shots at each other over the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station amount to inappropriate "race baiting," one of their Democratic rivals charged Monday.
Dem mayoral candidate Sal Albanese, a former City Council member, criticized Quinn's controversial comment that opposition to the MTS constituted "environmental racism" — and panned Thompson's demand that she "apologize to all New Yorkers of color" for the remark.
"Race-baiting has no place in a Democratic primary in 2013," Albanese said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "I'm calling on both Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson to end the dangerous and cynical game they're playing to win headlines."
Albanese, who also touted himself in the release as "the first Democrat to publicly oppose the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station," said "Christine Quinn crossed the line in a big way last week, saying that anyone who disagrees with her ... was engaged in environmental racism.
"We can and should fiercely argue the merits of the station, but we should never, ever suggest that racism is what drives our opponents," he said. "Speaker Quinn needs to withdraw her accusation and apologize to MTS opponents."
Albanese lambasted Thompson, too, saying the former city comptroller and runner-up in the 2009 election "needs to apologize for his decision [Monday] to fan the flames and raise money off of racial division."
Still, Albanese, a former schoolteacher, doesn't believe his opponents harbor racist beliefs outside of the campaign.
"So let's make this perfectly clear and move on: I know Christine Quinn, and I know Bill Thompson, and neither of them are racists," he said.
Quinn's campaign immediately rebuffed Albanese's charges, however.
"Let's be clear, Chris Quinn never called anyone an environmental racist and any suggestion otherwise is simply not true," campaign spokesman Mike Morey told DNAinfo New York in an email. "While some politicians are pandering on this issue to secure votes, Chris Quinn will not back down from requiring all communities, no matter how affluent they are, from doing their fair share."
City Councilman Jumaane Williams — who represents Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, as well as parts of Canarsie and Midwood in Brooklyn — also entered the fray in defense of Quinn.
"It is a frightening prospect that anyone would try to upend the entire waste management plan, a plan that so many of us worked for years to make more equitable to communities of color," he said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
"The facts are simple and undeniable: majority-minority neighborhoods have for too long shouldered the burden of this city's waste so that communities like the Upper East Side didn't have to do so. Those days are rightfully over."
Similar to state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Williams also said that candidates' newfound MTS opposition deals with political favoritism toward the wealthy.
"What's become increasingly clear is that candidates for citywide office would rather pander to the Upper East Side and their campaign donors than do right by communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Harlem," Williams said in a statement.
Thompson's campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.