After the New York City Council last week overrode his vetoes of two controversial police-related bills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg branded the action "election-year politics at its worst and political pandering at its most deadly."
That's some pretty grim talk, suggesting as it does that anyone who took part in passing the legislation threatens the people's safety.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) leads the house that enacted the measures. She counts one of the bills, creating an NYPD inspector general, among her accomplishments. For the record, she voted against the other, which expands the right to sue over racial profiling -- but suggested that if elected mayor she won't try to squelch it in court.
And yet Bloomberg, despite raising vivid alarms over her council's doings, doesn't seem to have ditched his long-running political alliance with Quinn as she struggles to win the Democratic nomination.
The mayor's forgiveness -- or disconnect -- became clearer Monday when Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson cautiously praised Quinn in a televised interview.
"The mayor has said, and I believe, that she has been a very effective speaker," said Wolfson, who then echoed one of Quinn's talking points of the week, that her rival Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, once "flip-flopped" on term limits.
Wolfson sounded as if Bloomberg -- rather than Quinn and five other Democrats -- was running against de Blasio. The deputy claimed de Blasio wants to undo "the best 12 years of the city's history" and push the city into higher crime and bad finances.
De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan replied yesterday: "Bill de Blasio is running to make a clean break from the Bloomberg era and they [Quinn and Bloomberg] are fighting for the status quo."
Also, in recent days Wolfson hinted at a Bloomberg tilt toward Joe Lhota in the Republican primary -- though Lhota has had his differences with Bloomberg. For one thing, in his interview with NY1 News, Wolfson reinforced the praise that followed Lhota's handling, while Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, of the superstorm Sandy emergency. He also hailed Lhota's past stewardship of Madison Square Garden. "I like Joe," he said.
Beyond that, Wolfson took to tweeting criticism last weekend of a newspaper editorial that he said unfairly belittled former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Lhota, of course, was Giuliani's chief deputy. Under fire from GOP rival John Catsimatidis, Lhota has the former mayor, in one ad, defend him against alleged lies. Catsimatidis defends his criticisms of Lhota as accurate.
Bloomberg hasn't endorsed primary candidates and hasn't even said whether he will back a general-election candidate. But so far, one could easily see the billionaire incumbent backing Lhota in a Lhota-de Blasio contest in November, or perhaps Quinn, in a Quinn-Catsimatidis showdown.
Quinn's detractors still cite the "Bloom-Quinn" or "Quinn-berg" pact as a reason to oppose her -- since she cooperated in fixing the law to give Bloomberg and herself a third term at the apex of City Hall. So the idea that a conventional endorsement from Bloomberg helps her in a Democratic primary remains debatable.
As Bloomberg in his final four months in office watches primaries, a likely runoff, and a November election unfold in his absence, who knows? Maybe he'll flood the airwaves with "independent" ads designed to help one side or the other in a last hurrah of sky's-the-limit campaign spending.