Beware the wrath of Christine Quinn. The City Council speaker is throwing a $600,000 temper tantrum that will cut directly into the quality of life of thousands of Queens residents — all because Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria stood up for our borough.
The speaker is miffed that Vallone vocally opposed the renaming of the iconic Queensboro Bridge in honor of former Mayor Ed Koch. The change was one of Mayor Bloomberg’s pointless pet projects, you see, and in this matter as in many, Quinn is nothing but his legislative doppelganger.
Vallone, like 70 percent of Queens residents, and nearly that many citywide, thought the bridge already had enough names, and that changing it would be a slap to the borough. In the end it was christened the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. Only Vallone and three other Queens councilmen voted against the renaming, which we expect will take about as well as Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough Bridge has. Meaning not at all.
Now, because the retaliatory Quinn controls the purse strings on discretionary funding, groups like the Variety Boys and Girls Club, area little leagues, senior centers and other nonprofit organizations will lose out. The $600,000 that Vallone will not have to spread around this year is about 42 percent of what he had for the fiscal year that just ended.
The speaker took a similar action against Middle Village Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley last year, all because the Queens lawmaker beat her to the punch in announcing a compromise that kept all the city’s fire companies open. She is a sensitive one, the speaker.
But aren’t all council members suffering cutbacks this year because of the city’s financial condition? No. Those who play the game the way Quinn and Bloomberg like them to play it aren’t seeing anything like the hit Vallone, and therefore the people of his district, are taking.
As he told the Chronicle on Wednesday, unlike many council members, he hasn’t been handing out funds to groups that employ his former staffers. Around the city, many such organizations are little more than slush funds for the politically connected. But Vallone hasn’t been playing that game.
It’s time all of this nonsense came to an end. All council members should receive equal discretionary funding. And Vallone, an independent conservative Democrat and man of integrity, should get your vote. He’s expected to run for district attorney after this term in the council, his last under the law, if Richard Brown retires. Seems like he’d make a fine successor.