The nation’s most far-reaching effort to stop employers from shunning out-of-work job applicants has become law in New York City when the city council voted Wednesday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto.
But Speaker Christine Quinn’s rare bucking of Bloomberg’s authority is highlighting a question sure to be highlighted in the mayoral race: is the speaker doing her constitutional role as an executive counterweight or has she been merely a docile partner to Bloomberg?
In contrast to her predecessor, Gifford Miller, who led 38 overrides during his three years leading the council, Quinn oversaw on Wednesday her 27th veto override since taking office in 2006. That is leading her rivals for the Democratic mayoral nomination to label her “Bloomberg II.”
“On too many of the major issues in our city, Speaker Quinn has stood very close by Mayor Bloomberg’s side,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said. “…Speaker Quinn has not been willing to stand up to the mayor.”
Quinn’s ultimate decision to side with the mayor came in 2008, when Bloomberg successfully lobbied her to overturn two voter referendums to limits city elected officials to two terms. Both de Blasio and Bill Thompson, who ran against Bloomberg that election and lost by a small margin, have blasted Quinn for that vote.
A Quinn victory would be akin to a “fourth Bloomberg term,” Thompson’s campaign said.
At a campaign stop on Sunday, the day she launched her campaign, Quinn was lambasted by voters who were still angry with her for overturning term limits. The law has since reverted to its two-term threshold.
But Quinn’s supporters say that she has stood up to the mayor on firehouse closings and restoring vouchers which Bloomberg removed from several annual budgets. They note that Bloomberg has also issued fewer vetoes of legislation which passed through Quinncouncil than he did for her predecessor.
Wednesday’s veto override makes New York the fourth place in the country with some form of a law against discriminating against unemployed job-seekers. But while others ban ads that say applicants must be employed, New York City’s allows rejected applicants to sue employers.
Advocates for the unemployed say such practices are unfair, but businesses say hiring decisions are too complicated to legislate.