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Quinn Says Marine Transfer Station Opponents 'Pander' to Upper East Side

By Victoria Bekiempis | June 17, 2013 12:42pm | Updated on June 17, 2013 1:15pm
 At the East Harlem Center of Excellence, 161 E. 110th St., Christine Quinn again said that she supported the controversial East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station for borough equity
Christine Quinn Marine Transfer Station Address
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EAST HARLEM — Christine Quinn went on the attack against her competition during a campaign address Monday morning, saying that other mayoral hopefuls "pander to residents of the Upper East Side" by opposing the controversial marine transfer station.

Though she did not name names, the City Council speaker's comments come shortly after she and Bill Thompson traded barbs when Quinn described opposition to the MTS constituted "environmental racism."

Quinn's address, which took place at East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence, also took place almost seven years since she and her colleagues greenlighted the city's long-term waste management plan — which includes the long-lambasted MTS.

Though opponents claim the station will bring vermin, traffic, fumes and a host of other healthy and safety concerns to the area, Quinn's words reiterated her long-standing position that the project fosters environmental justice.

"Our trash plan will take 6 million truck miles off of New York City's roads every year. Right now many of those trucks drive through this neighborhood, East Harlem," she said. "And all the exhaust fumes from all of those trucks contribute to extremely high asthma rates — some of the highest in the country."

Quinn said she worked to pass the plan despite "decades of entrenched political interests" because "too many kids, in too many parts of New York, were suffering because everyone wasn't doing their fair share."

She slammed anti-MTS activists continued litigation against the plant, saying their legal battle exacerbates health problems among mainly poor, minority youth.

"It's been seven years,and children here in East Harlem, and in Brooklyn and the South Bronx are still waiting for relief," she said.

Quinn, ramping up claims that the MTS is about equality, added: "When we say, 'Not in my back yard,' that just means: 'Dump this in someone else's backyard!'" 

"That's not what we do as New Yorkers," she added. "The strength of our city is that 8 million people pursue our common interests, not our self-interest."

Asked whether additional steps would be taken to storm-proof the East 91st Street station — which is set to be build almost 6 feet below recommended levels — Quinn said: "We're going to have to do some retrofitting. There's no way around that."

Because a Staten Island MTS had weather Superstorm Sandy without incident, Quinn said she was confident the Yorkville plant would sustain severe inclement weather.

She also focused on other Democratic candidates' decisions to vocally come out against the MTS, saying it belied their ability to lead the city.

"Some of my opponents in this race continue to pander to residents of the Upper East Side — or side with their lobbyist donors," she said. "Other opponents, some of whom voted for the plan in the first place, have stuck their finger in the wind and eventually flip flopped their way to the right position. Neither is leadership."

Though Quinn touched on other themes such as affordable housing, education reform and job creation, the main motif seemed to be Quinn's defense of some unpopular decisions as proof that she's better suited "to deliver real results" than her opponents.

"That's the price of leadership," she said.

Quinn also said that her governing style would be similar to a Bruce Springsteen concert, during which he routinely "empties his tank every time," she said, paraphrasing Jon Stewart's description of the Boss.

"Anyone who's ever been to a Bruce concert will tell you he doesn't hold anything back. He leaves everything on stage, gives everything he has to give," said Quinn, who along with her wife Kim are "huge Bruce Springsteen fans."

"That's how I'll spend every day," she said. "Holding nothing back. Emptying my tank."

When a DNAinfo.com reporter asked Quinn after the speech why she avoided the highly controversial terminology that she previously used to describe anti-MTS activism — that it encourages environmental racism — Quinn said "I have to go to a campaign event but you can call [my spokesman] later."