There was a Christine Quinn sighting in Floral Park Tuesday evening.
Council Speaker Quinn (D-Manhattan) came out on offense against Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at a forum for mayoral candidates at North Shore Towers.
The event was sponsored by the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council and the Queens County Bar Association. More than 600 residents attended the forum, including those watching in an overflow crowd in the complex’s movie theater.
Quinn, the once-presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination, fell behind de Blasio in a recent Quinnipiac poll. Tuesday night she accused de Blasio of flip-flopping on term limits, saying he supported repeal when serving on the Council.
“He was for it before he was against it,” Quinn said. “It’s a tale of two Bill de Blasios. He’ll say anything to get elected.”
The zinger was a twist on de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” stump speech in which he describes a city under Mayor Bloomberg divided between rich and poor, and Manhattan vs. the outer boroughs.
Quinn also said an ad in which de Blasio says he is the only candidate to support changes to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is completely untrue, laying out the views of several Democrats.
“And our opponent, John Liu, is for ending it completely,” she said.
Neither De Blasio nor Bill Thompson, considered the other Democratic frontrunner, attended the forum. But published reports quoted the de Blasio campaign as calling the attacks a distraction floated by Quinn to divert talk from her overall support of Bloomberg’s policies.
Other Democratic candidates in attendance included former Congressman Anthony Weiner, former Councilman Sal Albanese and the Rev. Erick Salgado.
All three Republicans — former MTA chairman Joe Lhota, supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis and Doe Fund founder George McDonald — were in attendance, as was independent candidate and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.
Given the audience, several of the questions revolved around the rights and difficulties of those owning condominium and co-op units.
All the candidates — some of them current or former owners of such residences —said they would meet with a task force of owners from the five boroughs to discuss concerns ranging from tax assessments to unfunded state mandates.
Most said they were dubious of a bill pending in the state Legislature that would set up an ombudsman in the Attorney General’s Office to assist people who are rejected by co-op boards, though most had not read the bill and said there had to be mechanisms guarding against housing discrimination.
All favored a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) that would extend existing tax assessment caps to condo and co-op projects to sites with more than 10 units.
And all favored de-emphasizing standardized tests that have teachers and students more concerned with exams than learning.
De Blasio wasn’t even safe from McDonald, who has been running a distant third in GOP polls, and who unleashed a broadside attack on the pubic advocate’s plans to fund mandatory pre-K and middle-school afterschool programs with a tax increase on those making more than $500,000 per year, a plan he said will require approval of the state Legislature.
“The City Council can raise one tax on its own — the property tax,” he said. “Bill de Blasio says he will pay for pre-K by raising taxes and he doesn’t know if he can do it. ... It’s his signature proposal, and it’s something he can’t possibly do.”
And, as expected, the candidates were divided directly along party lines on the recent ruling by a federal judge mandating massive changes to stop and frisk.
Quinn said the City Council votes scheduled for today, which are expected to impose an outside inspector general in the NYPD and greatly reduce the criteria police can use for stopping suspects, is a sign of action while other candidates have been merely talking.
“We had 700,000 stops in the last year,” she said. “Mostly men of color. In most cases no guns, no weapons, no contraband. That’s a danger.”
Countering claims that crime could increase, she said rates in Los Angeles dropped 33 percent when similar oversight was enacted.
Lhota said stop and frisk has absolutely made the city safer.
“The gains we have made in the last 20 years have been the result of smart policing,” he said. He said the federal court ignored all pertinent information regarding the NYPD’s use and application.
He also offered Democrats a history lesson.
“Mayor Bloomberg has been called the face of stop, question and frisk,” he said. “That’s not the case. It came from a 1968 decision from the United States Supreme court — decided 8 to 1 and written by Earl Warren, not exactly the most conservative justice on that court.”
Catsimatidis, who grew up in Harlem, agreed.
“We can’t give the streets back to the thugs,” he said.
Weiner, Albanese, and Carrion all favored at lease some tweaking, centered around more officers on the streets. Weiner said they might not have the money to hire new officers, but could return many to patrol from jobs that he would give to civilians.