Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson swung back Wednesday at mayoral campaign rival Christine Quinn, calling her attack on his role in a scandal-scarred payroll management program the signs of an "angry," "increasingly desperate" campaign.
Thompson was responding to Quinn's interview Tuesday on NY1, in which the City Council speaker accused Thompson, when he was the city's top fiscal watchdog from 2002 to 2009, of being "asleep at the switch" and failing to police the soaring costs of the program, called CityTime.
"It appears that the speaker's comments continue to get increasingly -- I don't know, it's angry and kind of in attack mode at this point," he said, conceding in "retrospect" that "we could have done more to rein in the program."
He added: "I don't know whether it's increasingly desperate that she continues to point fingers and lash out."
CityTime was supposed to streamline timekeeping for municipal workers at a cost of tens of millions of dollars but ballooned more than 10-fold. Several defendants have pleaded guilty in an alleged $40-million kickback scheme, and others are awaiting trial.
Wednesday, Quinn spokesman Mike Morey said the speaker "simply pointed out a fact: Bill Thompson failed to fulfill the most basic part of his job as comptroller and it cost New Yorkers a whopping $700 million. Instead of owning up to his failings, he points fingers everywhere else. That's hardly leadership."
Quinn's attack marked a shift in her campaign's tone. For months, she relished her front-runner status and avoided attacking her opponents, often refusing even to utter their names.
But the race has since tightened, especially since the entry of former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Separately, Wednesday, Weiner proposed a "Declaration of Independence" for the city from Albany, which now has oversight over the city's tax policy, number of charter schools, red-light cameras and more.
"So much of our lives in New York City are governed by legislators in Buffalo, legislators in Schenectady, legislators in Plattsburgh," Weiner said.
He did not give specifics of how he would wrest control.