A sad bit of history was made this week when New York City finally passed a law that requires businesses with at least 15 employees to provide five paid sick days a year. Five. Days. Five days are not enough days to be out sick in a single year, especially in a living space jam-packed-with-people New York City — but at least its a start in a City that clearly has cared more about your cigarettes and sugar consumption and your Big Gulps than ever it did about actually giving you a few days off to heal while still being able to make the rent.
What disgusts me most about this Paid Five Days drama is the concerted effort of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who, for three years, singlehandedly blocked a vote on Paid Sick Days because she is beholden to bigger New York City business interests who cried poverty in a “fragile economy.” Only when she declared her intention to run for Mayor did Ms. Quinn recant her non-human policy against the City’s hardest workers:
New York’s relative slowness to tackle the issue of mandatory sick-leave benefits has become a source of embarrassment for the city’s liberal leaders, who directed their frustration at Ms. Quinn, a Democrat and longtime ally of Mr. Bloomberg who has aggressively courted the business community in her run for mayor. …
The outcry, which coincided with the official declaration of Ms. Quinn’s mayoral campaign, quickly took center stage in the mayor’s race, spilling out into contentious candidate forums and turning into an emblem of Ms. Quinn’s complicated relationship with left-leaning Democrats.
In one particularly potent tactic, advocates persuaded the usually timid members of the Council to try to circumvent Ms. Quinn and force a vote on a version of the bill that was unacceptable to her, a maneuver never tried during her tenure as speaker.
I hope Ms. Quinn will not become the de-facto replacement for Bloomberg as New York City Mayor. Sure, we can try to forgive her foul mouth and her soundproof office and her lack of propriety in the workplace —
- “in private, friends and colleagues say, another Ms. Quinn can emerge: controlling, temperamental and surprisingly volatile, with a habit of hair-trigger eruptions of unchecked, face-to-face wrath.”
- Her staff added soundproofing to her office. They also ask each other “Did she throw up on you today?”
- One official says, “Her eyes get really wide, she points her fingers. She gets really close to you. It’s really in your face.”
- A former donor says one time, “She screamed at me for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, and used the ‘F’-word at least 20 times. I was just so startled, I didn’t know what to do.”
- One ex-city official describes it as “old-fashioned screaming, in a way that you just don’t hear that much.”
— but to actively block necessary legislation that not only allows ill workers to heal, but doesn’t expose the City populace to infected and sick workers who cannot afford to stay home and get well, is a self-stoning from which she will never recover — even if she eventually becomes Mayor.
It’s quite clear Christine Quinn follows the whims of a blowing political wind and she has no moral compass to guide her into doing the right thing without pressure and direction from the outside. She is owned by the special interests and is certainly is not “of the people” or “for the people” in any sort of heartfelt way. She’s at least three years too late to claim any social welfare victory in the midst of her own bloody mayhem.