Having viewed the final mayoral debate before the primary, I am more convinced than ever that Christine Quinn has the pragmatism and progressive vision, backed by unmatched experience and a strong record of accomplishment, that will make her a great mayor for the city of New York.
The idea that Christine Quinn supports the unconstitutional use of "stop-and-frisk" is simply not factual. It is contrary to her principles and the record of her statements and her actions.
The current effort to end stop-and-frisk dates back to the 1999 New York Police Department (NYPD) killing of Amadou Diallo. In March 1999 New York City Councilmember Christine Quinn stood on the front lines at 1 Police Plaza with other leaders and was arrested in protest of the killing. Christine Quinn is still standing up to end the abusive policing practices that continue to grip our city today.
On June 6, 2012, at the historic Stonewall Inn, in an LGBT press conference in support of End Stop and Frisk: Silent March Against Racial Profiling, she said, "[Stop-and-frisk is] a process that is broken and needs to be changed.... [W]e need to reduce the number of unwarranted stops and to bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve."
On June 17, 2012, Father's Day, she was on the streets with over 50,000 New Yorkers participating in End Stop and Frisk: Silent March Against Racial Profiling.
On Jan. 15, 2013, at Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network's mayoral forum, she said, "If I'm mayor, the police commissioner will work for me, and that includes a mandate to end unconstitutional stop-question-and-frisk." Fellow Democratic mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson share her position.
On June 19, 2013, in a debate on NY1, Quinn said this about her demand that the NYPD commissioner end the unconstitutional use of stop-and-frisk: "If you can't agree to that, don't take the job, and if you take it and you don't do it, you'll get fired." Commissioner Ray Kelly, take note.
Here is Quinn's record on policing and public safety:
- Community Safety Act (CSA): As City Council Speaker she was instrumental in the historic City Council override of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of the oversight bill, which establishes an inspector general with subpoena power to oversee the NYPD. Though she didn't support the override of the profiling bill, I'm glad it survived. Bill Thompson opposed the entire CSA, as did the police unions that backed him.
- Opposes Mayor Bloomberg's appeal in Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al.: Quinn supports the ruling in the historic stop-and-frisk case, including the use of a court-appointed monitor. She announced the filing of a legal declaration to block Bloomberg's effort to put a hold on the judge's reforms during his appeal. As mayor she would stop Bloomberg's appeal.
- NYPD officers must be NYC residents: Many in communities of color view the NYPD as an "occupying force." Quinn supports regulations requiring that all NYPD officers be residents of New York City, rooted in the communities that they serve. Bill de Blasio opposes such regulations.
- Gun violence: In the New York City Council she organized the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence. In 2013 they funded over $4 million for anti-gun-violence programming. On July 28, 2013, Speaker Quinn, fellow City Councilmembers and the NYPD announced a citywide $300,000 gun-buyback initiative.
- Hate violence: Quinn will continue efforts to make NYC free of hate crimes. As a former director of the Anti-Violence Project, she has seen firsthand the devastating impact of hate violence. During the recent wave of anti-LGBT attacks, including the murders of Mark Carson and Islan Nettles, Quinn has been outspoken in denouncing hate violence in communities all across the city.
- The false arrests of gay men for prostitution: From the start, Speaker Quinn and her staff were shocked by the false arrests and responded with the resources at her command. In March 2009 the false arrests were shelved by the NYPD, and in October 2009 the LGBT Advisory Panel to the NYPD held its first meeting. Both had been demands of the Campaign to Stop the False Arrests, fulfilled in large part thanks to Quinn's leadership. The LGBT Advisory Panel went on to make historic revisions of the NYPD Patrol Guide to ensure that NYPD interactions with transgender individuals are grounded in dignity and respect.
The record of Quinn's statements, actions and legislative accomplishments reveals a stark departure from Mayor Bloomberg's reign and signifies that her relationship with her police commissioner, whomever he or she may be, would differ vastly from Bloomberg's relationship with Commissioner Kelly. Though I disagree with her intention to keep Kelly, I would be surprised if he stayed on.
The notion that Christine Quinn bears direct responsibility for the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital may be great political theater, but it cynically manipulates the legitimate fears of the community while ignoring the facts. At the root of this tragedy are the soaring costs of health care coupled with an overpaid and duplicitous lay administration that had mismanaged St. Vincent's into bankruptcy and closure. Public and private interests must work together to bring a hospital back to the lower west side.
Over the course of their careers, Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio, and Michael Bloomberg have all advocated on both sides of the term-limit debate. Ultimately, it was the voters of New York City who gave Bloomberg a third term. If this issue so enraged New Yorkers, why did so few even show up to vote? Of the 26 percent who even bothered, it took only 13 percent, or 557,059 of the 4.1 million registered voters, to reelect Bloomberg to the despised third term. The 2009 general election saw the lowest voter turnout in NYC since 1969. This shameful fact about our local elections is something that we must all work to overcome.
As City Council Speaker, Quinn's expertise and political skill at turning the New York City Council into an effective governing body have been widely praised. As mayor she will bring the same consensus-building leadership to City Hall. Given that she's a woman and a lesbian, her election will be historic and will reverberate far beyond the five boroughs. With all of this in mind, I urge you to cast your vote on Sept. 10 for Christine Quinn!