Advocates hoping to swing the election by urging voters to elect “Anybody but Quinn” gathered across the street from the closed St. Vincent’s Hospital this evening for a get-out-the-vote rally they billed as an early “retirement party” for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The event–which included the presentation of a series of mock parting gifts in honor of Ms. Quinn’s desired departure, including a “term limit-less watch from Rolex, so that Quinn will be reminded that her time is up”–came just hours after the release of the latest mayoral poll, which cast Bill de Blasio as the clear front-runner in the mayor’s race, with 36 percent of the vote, versus just 21 percent for Ms. Quinn. Attendees greeted the news with glee.
“I got tears in my eyes,” said Brian Gari, 61, who was one of the more than 100 supporters who turned up for the event and cheered as the results were announced. “I’m thrilled beyond belief.”
Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s press conference this morning devolved into violence, as State Senator Brad Hoylman was slapped in the face and another Quinn supporter was attacked during a heated showdown over hospital closings.
The campaign event was initially supposed to give former State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Mr. Hoylman the opportunity to rail against rival mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio for his alleged inaction regarding the controversial closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. But a group of anti-Quinn protesters were the only ones to make real noise.
“Shame, shame, shame on you,” the group chanted as the press conference was set to begin, drowning out Ms. Quinn’s supporters.
Rivals of City Council Speaker and mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn released their second attack ad Wednesday morning, this time slamming Ms. Quinn for failing to halt the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The 30-second spot, courtesy of the new political committee New York City Is Not for Sale, begins with grainy images of an emergency room sign, a screaming ambulance and a gurney being rushed down a hospital hall.
“You don’t know when the next emergency is going to hit you or your family. Often the difference between life and death is measured in minutes, or even seconds,” says a narrator in an ominous voice.
Citing campaign contributions to Rudin Management Company, the ad accuses Ms. Quinn of turning her back on the hospital to help the developers out.
“After Christine Quinn took thousands of dollars from real estate developers who owned the property, she failed to keep St. Vincent’s open, leaving thousands of New Yorkers in need of medical care with nowhere to go,” it says, over video of a sad old woman with a cane sitting alone on a bench in the snow.
“When Christine Quinn allows the things that are most important to New Yorkers to disappear, how can you support her for mayor?” it asks.
New York Is Not for Sale launched earlier this month with the sole mission of insuring that “Anyone but Quinn” is elected mayor this fall.
The spot, which was produced by the Advance Group, is set to begin airing Wednesday on channels including NY1, Bravo and Oxygen as part of the group’s original $250,000 ad buy, a group spokeswoman said. They plan to spend $1 million over the course of the campaign.
Its founding members include the animal rights group New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), Communications Workers of America union Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes and Wendy Neu, the CEO of Hugo Neu Corporation.
“The closing of St. Vincent’s hospital leaves a community out in the cold,” Mr. Cheliotes said in a statement. “Today’s new ad calls attention to a community where residents have nowhere to go in the event of an emergency or health crisis. Christine Quinn played an integral role in letting St. Vincent’s disappear and we cannot support a mayor who would let her donors dictate development at the sacrifice of our communities.”
Ms. Quinn was clearly ruffled by the group’s first ad, which painted her as a calculating politician willing to compromise her principles to get ahead. She called the ad a “disgrace” and her lawyers fired off a letter to Time Warner demanding they stop airing it, claiming that it included false statements, prompting ridicule from her rivals.
Update (12:40 p.m.): It turns out that there was an error in the ad. About 10 second in, writing on the screen claims that Quinn received $59,400 in campaign contributions from Rudin Management. But according to a spokesman for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, that’s not the case.
Thanks to a quirk in the board’s electronic database, some contributions given before term limits were extended happen to show up twice.
“Those contributions shouldn’t be counted twice,” explained spokesman Matt Sollars. In fact, employees of the company have contributed $29,700 to Ms. Quinn’s 2013 campaign, he said.
Kevin Finnegan, the political director of the powerful healthcare workers union, 1199 SEIU, also defended Quinn, saying there was nothing more she could have done to save the hospital from closing.
“Nobody fought harder to save St. Vincent’s than Christine Quinn,” he said. “I was in the middle of that fight from Day 1, and Chris Quinn was by my side the entire time, fighting much harder than anyone else. And to criticize her on that front is baseless. It’s absolutely baseless. It’s absurd.”
Update (1:31 p.m.): Quinn’s campaign spokesman Mike Morey adds:
“This ad has blatant, egregious factual inaccuracies. When St. Vincent’s declared bankruptcy, no one fought harder to make sure that the community continued to have access to critical healthcare services. Thanks to Christine Quinn’s leadership, local residents will have access
to a high-quality, state of the art healthcare facility with a 24-hour emergency room.”
St. Vincent’s hospital was closed in 2010, but a group of six demonstrators spent much of yesterday protesting Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council for voting to approve Rudin Management’s plan for the site formerly occupied by the hospital. The protesters appeared at yesterday’s council meeting when the vote was taken and were thrown out after booing from the gallery. They also followed Ms. Quinn to her appearance at a 92nd Street Y panel where people in the audience heckled Ms. Quinn as she spoke and a small contingent stood outside holding signs that said carried signs showing off the low number of hospital beds on the West Side below 57th Street and mocking Ms. Quinn with the slogan “Quinn To City: Drop Dead.”
“You know, it was all basically a done deal and Christine has the entire City Council in her pocket and the mayor did not stand up for a full service emergency hospital. There’s no reason why there can’t be an emergency hospital,” Ms. Katz told The Politicker. “Christine Quinn, this is her district, she betrayed her district, she betrayed the entire downtown community.”
Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon has taken out a provocative new advertisement in a local newspaper in Christine Quinn’s home district that accuses the City Council speaker of letting St. Vincent’s Hospital close in order to reap real estate donations.
The ad leads in bold type with the words, DID CHRISTINE QUINN BET YOUR LIFE TO BECOME MAYOR and shows her kissing real estate developer Bill Rudin at an unidentified event.