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Democratic Mayoral Candidates Square Off, Bash Bloomberg In Debate

Candidates All Present Themselves As Defenders Of Everyday New Yorkers
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City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Several of the Democratic mayoral candidates took swipes at soon-to-retire Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a debate Tuesday, particularly on his election to an unprecedented third term and the issue of unionized city workers who have been without contracts.

Candidates Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, John Liu, and Bill de Blasio gathered for the debate on Tuesday night.

The debate came as a new Quinnipiac University poll placed de Blasio as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, surging past former leader Quinn.

In blasting Bloomberg for circumventing the term limits law to run successfully for a third term four years ago, de Blasio accused fellow candidate Quinn of complicity in the move.

“Speaker Quinn gave Mayor Bloomberg a third term in a backroom deal that defied the Democratic will of the people. What did we get? A massive increase in the use of stop and frisk, huge fines – unfair fines – on small business, and the inequalities gripping our city was ignored by the mayor,” de Blasio said. “That’s what we got in the third term, and the people’s will was ignored, and that’s the worst thing about it.”

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, it was one of many heated exchanges between Quinn and de Blasio. De Blasio also accused Quinn of “deliver(ing) for the big business community by holding up the paid sick leave bill legislation,” and “for the real estate industry by offering them a $1 billion tax giveaway.”

Quinn was on the defensive — particularly amidst the attacks stemming from her perceived association with Bloomberg.

“I’ve gone to City Hall every day, prevented the layoff of 4,100 schoolteachers, grew good tech and manufacturing jobs, and again, I think my opponents are attacking me repeatedly, because they simply do not have that kind of record delivering for middle class New Yorkers,” Quinn said.

Meanwhile, Liu accused Bloomberg of “checking out” during his third term and becoming indifferent to the people of the city.

“Many people understand that Mayor Bloomberg’s checked out during his third term. He checked out when there was a huge snowstorm that was snowbounding people, and told them to watch a Broadway play. He told people that there were no homeless people living in the streets of New York, and most recently, he felt that more blacks and Latinos needed to be stopped and frisked as opposed to whites,” Liu said. “That’s checked out.”

On the issue of union contracts, Thompson blamed Bloomberg for the fact that no agreement has been reached in four years.

“I don’t think unions have been waiting three and four years, and in some cases longer for a better deal,” Thompson said. “They would have liked to get a better deal and make it with the current mayor,” but Bloomberg chose not to, Thompson claimed.

At his budget address in May, Bloomberg said the city simply does not have the money for big increases.

But while the candidates did not promise retroactive pay, many of them slammed Bloomberg for failing to hammer out a deal with city workers.

“Mayor Bloomberg completely failed on this account,” Liu said. “How can a mayor go four years – an entire mayoral term – without resolving a single municipal labor contract?”

Some other candidates did not mention Bloomberg personally, but said a different approach is needed.

De Blasio said he would make contracts with city workers a priority while finding ways to save money, while Quinn said she was the only candidate to bring unions together with the city, and in the case of teachers, receive concessions that prevented 4,100 layoffs.

Weiner said workers will need to pay more for health care, but that funding would be found to ensure that more money was available to give them raises.

Meanwhile, Liu was questioned about the recent convictions of a former campaign worker and a former fundraiser on charges of scheming to circumvent donation limits. Treasurer Jenny Hou and Oliver Pan were found guilty in federal court of plotting to cheat New York City out of campaign funds.

Following the convictions, the New York City Campaign Finance Board denied public matching funds for Liu. At the debate, Liu said the board “mischaracterized the campaign, but at the end of the day, they can keep their money,” because the campaign is really about people and a message, he said.

Weiner and Thompson also came to Liu’s defense and criticized the board’s decision.

“I know John Liu. I find him to be an honorable man, and I think the prosecution of him has gone too far,” Weiner said. “I don’t think you should vote for him. I think you should vote for me. But I don’t think you should not vote for him because of that.”

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