Quinn, de Blasio trade barbs in NYC mayor's race

(L-R) Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, City Council Speaker

(L-R) Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, Gloria Steinem and Quinn's family and friends, attend a news conference on the steps of City Hall in which Quinn unveiled her 'Women's Agenda" in Manhattan. (Aug. 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Democrats Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, running neck-and-neck in the New York City mayoral race, sparred Sunday over paid family leave proposals released two days apart.

Quinn, the City Council speaker, on Sunday pitched a plan to provide 3.4 million employees with paid leave and touted it as the practical alternative to one presented Friday by de Blasio.

"The public advocate's plan is based on a pie-in-the-sky notion of what's possible, and at its root, it is a tax on the very working people that we want to assist with paid family leave," she said.

De Blasio's team countered with an attack on the timing on her proposal. A spokesman said she blocked paid sick leave in the City Council for three years and "has been silent" on paid family leave.

"Now, just two days after Bill de Blasio unveiled his vision, the Speaker is presenting a plan with no way to pay for it two weeks before election day," he said in a statement. "That's not leadership, that's a desperate 11th hour conversion."

Quinn said her proposal, costing "$67 specific million dollars," would be funded with budget savings.

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Quinn and de Blasio are tied in the latest poll, each with 24 percent support among Democrats likely to vote in the Sept. 10 primary. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson is within striking distance at 18 percent.

Much of Quinn's and de Blasio's recent attacks on each other have revolved around family. De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, last week was misquoted in The New York Times as saying Quinn, who has no children, is unapproachable on the topic of raising young kids. McCray said she was commenting on policies, but Quinn said she was offended nonetheless.

Quinn said Sunday that her leave plan was formed long before McCray's comments.

Quinn's proposal would allow for eight weeks of paid leave for maternity, to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or to care for a sick family member at two-thirds of a worker's income, up to $300 a week. It would be enacted by the city.

De Blasio's plan would pay 50 percent of a worker's average weekly salary for up to 12 weeks, at a maximum of $340 per week. It would be funded with a surcharge on existing disability insurance premiums and requires state legislation. Its cost would depend on payroll tax adjustments.

On Sunday, a 14-year-old Quinn family friend collapsed from heat exhaustion at the news conference unveiling her plan. Quinn rushed to the girl's aid, helping her out of the sun and into City Hall and applying a wet towel to her forehead. The girl, who was not identified by name, was doing fine Sunday afternoon.

The episode was reminiscent of one July 16 when a young intern fainted in the heat at a news conference attended by Quinn, who sat with her and called NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to send help.

Also Sunday, Thompson unveiled a television ad saying that a de Blasio ad "lies" about Thompson's stance on stop-and-frisk. "I'll end racial profiling in stop-and-frisk and get guns off the street," Thompson says in the ad. "That's the truth."

De Blasio in his ad had pitched himself as the "only" candidate intent on reforming stop-and-frisk. De Blasio has said his advocacy of a new police commissioner, an inspector general and a ban on racial profiling makes him stop-and-frisk's most vocal critic.


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