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City Council passes living wage bill

April 30, 2012 3:21:09 PM PDT
Business leaders and the mayor don't like the living wage bill one bit. Liberal and some labor and religious leaders love it. City council Speaker Christine Quinn ended up supporting the law that passed on a vote of 45 to five on Monday, but not without some last-minute drama.

"But this is not democracy, calling people names who don't agree with us. So whoever said that I ask that they apologize," Speaker Quinn said.

Today's rally began on an awkward note. Someone yelled out "Pharaoh Bloomberg" because he's promised to veto the living wage bill. Quinn was livid someone had called Mayor Michael Bloomberg a name.

"Congratulations on the bill and I'm just not going to participate in name-calling, sorry," she said.

So Quinn stormed out, leaving supporters of the bill perplexed.

The public advocate who may well be running against Quinn for mayor next year said Quinn over-reacted.

"I think on an issue like this she has to realize that the mayor is in the wrong place and she has to be willing to say that," Bill de Blasio said.

The guy who shouted "Pharaoh Bloomberg" said it a small, insignificant comment.

"I think it helps expose where she really stands," Carlos Pacheco said.

For years Speaker Quinn has been accused of being too closely aligned with Mayor Bloomberg. Later at a news conference, she refused to back down.

"As a speaker it's always been important to me to keep government above name-calling, deep things civil," Quinn said.

What might have gotten lost in today's controversy was the bill itself. It forces any company receiving an incentive of a million dollars or more from city hall to pay its workers 10 dollars an hour.

"And anyone who does not believe on it, believe in it the you work for 7.25 an hour and live in New York," City Councilman Robert Jackson said.

Last week the mayor called the bill bad for business.

"The so-called living and prevailing wage bills are a throw-back to the the era that government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked rather than a garden to be cultivated," Bloomberg said.

"The mayor and I disagree, clearly the mayor feels incredibly strongly about this but we disagree," Quinn said.

So far it seems only a few hundred New Yorkers will benefit because of today's law. But the speaker admits in the future there could be thousands of New Yorkers who will be paid more because of this law. For the record, Quinn was not the only one who left the news conference. Three other council members joined her, but she's the one who made news.

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