The knives are out for mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn, who's been the focus of increasingly scathing scrutiny in the press this week. It all started with an unflattering New York Times profile on the Council Speaker, sourced from various people who've been shocked by her hot temper and vindictiveness. Yesterday we obtained a couple of old voicemail messages from Quinn that reinforced this portrait of Quinn as a bully who accuses opponents of sexism if they object to her upbraiding. Now more of Quinn's colleagues on the City Council are speaking out.
Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. tells the Times that Quinn used her power as Council Speaker to eliminate funding for a college scholarship fund named for his father after he opposed her on renaming the Queensboro Bridge after former mayor Ed Koch. "It was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that there would be retribution for my vote,” Vallone tells the Times. “No one should ever be punished for representing the voices of the people who elected them."
And Councilwoman Elizabeth S. Crowley, another Queens Democrat who was cited in the Times's first article, claims Quinn cut financing for youth programs and senior centers in her district in 2010 after she failed to name-check Quinn in a press release. "It was so brazenly vindictive, I don’t know what else to call it," Crowley tells the Times in today's article. "She’s not hurting me, she’s hurting the people I represent, the people of the city of New York.”
In an interview on CNN last night, Quinn denied seeking revenge against those who cross her, but in a previous interview she did not counter Crowley's account of the funding cuts. In her position as Council Speaker, Quinn wields enormous power over how $400 million in council funds gets distributed to the various council districts. "I’ve tried very hard to bring discipline to the City Council, which was for many, many years kind of known as an undisciplined body, without focus," Quinn told CNN. On the topic of her temper, she has this to say on MSNBC:
I have always said I’ve had a big personality, and I’ve always said I’m a pushy broad, and I’ve always said I want to get things done. And sometimes to get things done you have to be aggressive. The times that I have made mistakes and been over the line, I’m the first to pick up the telephone and make an apology. But I’m passionate about the work I do, and I’m passionate and in a rush to make things better for New York City .... Sometimes you have to push to make that happen. This is a tough town. You need tough people leading it.
If you're gonna make an omelet in this town you gotta break a few balls, and if it means wearing a necklace of made from your enemies' testicles, so be it!