Nuclear Option Over Paid Sick Leave
Thirty-six New York City Councilmembers currently support the Paid Sick Leave bill, but they cannot vote on the bill, because City Council Speaker Christine Quinn keeps blocking the bill. But journalist and civic expert, Andy Humm, has provided a way forward for supporters of the Paid Sick Leave bill, if only they had the courage.
"When the speaker of the City Council refuses to schedule a vote on a bill, the lead sponsor has the right to file what is known as a discharge motion with seven others to bring it to the Council floor for a full vote by their colleagues.
"But it might as well be the nuclear option, because most sponsors and advocates run for the fallout shelters when asked about whether they would consider standing up to the leadership."
But Mr. Humm polled several progressive leaders amongst the City Councilmembers, who support the Paid Sick Leave bill, but none of them would commit to the nuclear option. It's not known what role that perks and privileges plays in the reluctance that keeps Councilmembers from challenging Speaker Quinn.
But one Councilmember, who spoke freely with Mr. Humm, said he believed that Speaker Quinn exerts too much influence over the legislation considered by the City Council.
“Members are afraid to assert their own power,” Councilmember Charles Barron said of his colleagues. “They fear the speaker who they give too much power. Nothing in our rules says that she controls capital money and expense money, but they let her determine how much we get. Funds are not distributed based on the need of impoverished communities. They go to the Council members who go along, get along, and do the speaker’s bidding. She determines what committee assignments we get and whether we get to chair a committee.”
Mr. Humm was able to conclude from his interviews that Councilmembers hesitate to challenge Speaker Quinn :
"The sick-leave bill (Intro 97-A) has a more than veto-proof majority of 36 City Council co-sponsors – just 34 are needed for a two-thirds override of the mayor’s promised veto of the bill. But the legislation has languished without a vote because of the opposition of one member, Quinn, and the refusal of her members to contradict her."