NEW YORK CITY — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn parried attack after attack from her opponents, not least of which came the new Democratic front-runner, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in the first televised Democratic mayoral debate Tuesday.
In particular, Quinn was rapped repeatedly over her role in undermining term-limits in 2008 and helping extend Mayor Michael Bloomberg's time in office.
“The Speaker refuses to apologize for overturning the will of the people, the slush-fund scandal, and things in her professional life,” said former congressman Anthony Weiner, noting later that, “anyone on this stage who helped [Bloomberg] get that third term should not get a promotion."
“No one should be lectured [by Anthony Weiner] about what we should be apologizing for now — or ever,” Quinn responded to Weiner, who has seen his lead position in the polls evaporate since a new sexting scandal was uncovered late last month.
Quinn also heard it from her opponents—particularly de Blasio—over her handling of the city’s living wage law, which is currently tied up in courts after the Bloomberg administration sued to halt it.
De Blasio charged Quinn with siding with “the big business community by holding up paid sick days for three full years.”
Quinn retorted that even some of the bills biggest supporters in labor accused de Blasio of being “not part of the that got that law passed.”
“You’re going continue to hear Mr. de Blasio attack me, because he doesn’t want folks to know his record, that when he was in the council for eight years he didn't pass one bill to create a good paying job,” Quinn fired back.
Amid the torrent of criticism, Quinn defended herself and her record, saying she alone among her competitors had actually delivered results as council speaker, unlike her opponents.
“It's unfortunate when there's just political finger pointing instead of getting things done,” Quinn said. “Unlike many of the people on this stage, I've got it done."
De Blasio turned Quinn’s record against her, noting her role helping the mayor spend an extra four years in office.
“We all know she delivered for Michael Bloomberg [on term limits]. So let's be clear about that delivery,” he said.
At one point, Weiner, with fingers pointed at both Quinn and de Blasio, accused the duo of being of the same breed.
“My fellow New Yorkers, this is the problem,” he said. "They all come from basically the same place. They've been part of municipal government for decades now."
Weiner continued: "The only difference between Speaker Quinn and Bill de Blasio is that Speaker Quinn has been more successful. They made the same promises, to the same people. She got elected speaker and Bill's never gotten over it."
Weiner went on to describe himself as “someone who wants to stop this noise.”
Liu also got in on the action, attacking de Blasio for being a “Billy-come-lately” when it came to calling for an end to stop-and-frisk, just days after a federal judge ruled the police department policy unconstituional.
Liu said he wouldn’t only get rid of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, as some of the other Democrats wanted, but would clear out “the top ranks of the police chiefs” inside the department.
“We need to change the culture of the police department," Liu said.
None of the candidates said they were interested in talking about Weiner—except the candidate himself. When asked how they felt about the attention paid to the former congressman in the race, each of the other candidates said it needed to stop.
“I think this campaign has become too much about individuals,” Thompson said. “This campaign should be about the future of the city of New York.”