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Quinn’s Pedicab Problem: Personal or Political?

4:28 PM EDT on April 12, 2007

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 hersupport is essential when trying to introduce legislation or securefunding for projects in a member's district. "Thepower of the speaker is incredible when used in this type ofsituation," 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. Quinnlived, and may still live, in the same apartment building on West 24thStreet, 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.

"Shewants to be mayor, she needs their money," Mr. Bliss said, referring toMs. Quinn. "It is clear there is a quid pro quo between the speaker andthe 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 

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