Quinn’s Pedicab Problem: Personal or Political?



City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is reportedly pressuring -- some might say coercing -- council members into backing her effort to override of Mayor Bloomberg's veto of stringent pedicab restrictions. Tony Avella of Queens talked to the Sun about Quinn's anti-pedicab campaign among council members.

Mr. Avella said his colleagues are following Ms. Quinn's wishes because her support is essential when trying to introduce legislation or secure funding for projects in a member's district. "The power of the speaker is incredible when used in this type of situation," he said. "And that's a situation that really has to change. We talk about three men in a room in Albany. Well, the City Council is getting just as bad."

Of course political blackmail among elected officials is nothing new. What's noteworthy here is that, according to the Sun:

A lobbyist at Bolton-St. Johns, Inc, a group hired by the Committee for Taxi Safety to lobby the council, Emily Giske, is considered by many to be close to the speaker. She and Ms. Quinn lived, and may still live, in the same apartment building on West 24th Street, according to a recent address listing.

After Ms. Quinn, who is a lesbian, gave her first speech as speaker last year, Ms. Giske told a weekly newspaper of Lower Manhattan, Downtown Express: "As a lesbian and as a Democrat, I've never been more proud of anything in my life."

Regardless of any possible personal link between Quinn and Giske, pedicab industry founder and spokesman George Bliss suspects the speaker's motives are patently political.

"She wants to be mayor, she needs their money," Mr. Bliss said, referring to Ms. Quinn. "It is clear there is a quid pro quo between the speaker and the taxi lobby."

Could Quinn, a Democrat, be short-sighted enough to lobby against clean transportation for New York City at a time when the Republican she hopes to succeed is speaking -- if not always acting -- on reducing emissions? Not according to a Quinn spokeswoman, who claims that no one on the council "was urged or pressured to vote one way or another on the pedicab bill."

For his part, David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety ("Helping NYC's Safest Drivers"), says pedicab regulations would "keep the bicycle taxis from clogging midtown Manhattan." Pollack receives "daily complaints about reckless pedicab drivers," the article says.

A vote on the pedicab regs is set for April 23.

Photo: nycbone via Flickr