The New York Times - Christine C. Quinn, simultaneously offering an agenda for the City Council and a preview of her mayoral campaign, proposed on Thursday to crack down on landlords whose buildings are deteriorating, to make kindergarten mandatory and to provide more job training for unemployed New Yorkers.
Ms. Quinn, the Council speaker, touched in her annual State of the City speechon many of the basic issues important to middle-class and poor New Yorkers: education, employment opportunity, housing and health care. She did not offer a sweeping analysis of the city’s needs, but instead focused on a few specific stepsthat might improve conditions for those struggling to make ends meet.
At the beginning and end of her speech, Ms. Quinn invoked an image of a city rooted in a halcyon, democratic past, exemplified by the Upper East Side immigrant neighborhood where her father, Lawrence Quinn — who introduced her on Thursday, as he often does — grew up during the Depression, with laundry hanging out the windows and the “smell of cabbage cooking down the hall.”
“People who have never visited New York often see it as an intimidating metropolis, cold and impersonal,” she said. “But New Yorkers know the truth. We are not a big city. We’re a patchwork of small towns.”
Ms. Quinn, a Democrat who began as a housing activist but has moved to the political center over the course of her career, described New York’s communities as facing “challenges,” including chronic unemployment and high-cost housing and health care.
To combat unemployment, she said the Council would start a pilot jobs-training program and would use $10 million in federal tax credits to finance loans to small businesses. And, she said, she will ask the Council to pass legislation making it illegal to discriminate in hiring because an applicant is unemployed.
Seeking to assist the large number of independent contractors and self-employed people in the city, she said the Council would help the Freelancers Union establish a clinic to provide low-cost health care to its members. She also praised the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and its powerful president, Peter Ward, for the free health care clinics that it has for its members.
Ms. Quinn pledged to work toward a goal of “permanent affordability” in development deals, noting that most affordable housing guarantees by developers expire after 30 years.
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