BY JOE MARVILLI
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) stopped by the Queens Tribune office to discuss her campaign and her goals for the City if she is elected Mayor.
During her visit on Aug. 27, the mayoral candidate talked about everything from education to Stop and Frisk, from flooding to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Quinn spent some time touching on Queens-specific issues, such as the proposed developments for FMCP. While she does not have a position yet on the Major League Soccer stadium since that proposal is still in limbo, she did speak at length on the Willets Point project. Quinn said that there needs to be a way for projects with provisions to be backed up by threats against developers if they do not come through.
“In development agreements where there’s a requirement to do affordable housing or create jobs, we need to find a legal way to put claw back provisions in those deals,” she said. “If they don’t come through with what they committed, we claw back the money they got. The first time we claw it back, it’s not going to happen again.”
Addressing the issue of the auto-shop owners in Willets Points, she said it has not been handled well by the City and needs to be resolved quickly.
Moving to Citywide education, Quinn outlined a plan that would move away from the City’s policy of teaching to the test and would involve all facets of the student’s life to improve all the schools in the City, especially the weaker ones.
In addition to getting parents more involved in the process, Quinn would introduce a teacher training program where a senior teacher takes a break from the classroom to partner with first-year teachers and give them hands-on assistance. Throughout her first term, Quinn said she would look into lengthening the school day as well.
Quinn argued against the Bloomberg administration’s constant closing of schools, believing that while closures may occasionally be necessary, it is being done far too frequently and without a good system in place.
“I think the problem is that school closings have become almost the policy, as if that’s something to be proud of. What I would do as Mayor is put a red flag warning system, so two or three years out, you know a school is having challenges,” Quinn said. “We spent $20 to $30 million a year closing schools. Let’s take some of that money and invest in programs that we can put in place to save the school.”
As Council Speaker, Quinn has been at the center of the Stop and Frisk debate, particularly the steps taken this year to rein the policy in, through the Community Safety Act and the creation of an inspector general for the NYPD. While some community leaders and elected officials have said that these moves would harm public safety, Quinn disagreed.
“Some folks have said that the choice has to be between being the safest big city in America or keeping people’s civil liberties intact. That does not have to be the choice at all,” she said. “The independent police monitoring legislation we passed last week will make sure we can be both those things.”
Despite her stance on Stop and Frisk, Quinn thought Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did a good job overall and would consider keeping him on if he agreed to cut back on that program. In an effort to improve communication between neighborhoods and the police, Quinn would hire 1,600 new officers, giving the force more time to engage with the community.
A personal issue for Quinn that has come up during this year’s election cycle is her temperament, which has been described as overly aggressive. Quinn did admit that she could be loud and pushy, she said it was sometimes necessary to get things done for the people of New York.
“You want a New Yorker who’s tough. You want a New Yorker who’s pushy,” Quinn said. “You want a Mayor who’s tough enough to lead. You want a Mayor who’s smart enough to listen. You also want a Mayor who’s compassionate enough to care.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.