A new euphemism emerges for strongarming weak elected officials — “establishing better relationships”:
Immediately after the City Council voted to extend the city’s term limit laws, a good deal of attention focused on City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, a Brooklyn Democrat who raised eyebrows by voting in favor of the bill after publicly opposing it.
Had she been the target of blackmail, many asked, or was she persuaded by some high-pressure tactics?
In an interview over the weekend, Ms. Mealy spoke for the first time about her decision, insisting that her change of heart was based on a sincere desire to establish better relationships with the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to benefit the constituents of her district in Brownsville.
“This was the best way to build my relationship with the speaker and the mayor,” Ms. Mealy said. “And truthfully, I had no relationship with them. I think my district will benefit from my changing my position.”
Because the mayor and the speaker had the votes to pass the bill, she said, it served no purpose for her to be a dissenting vote and fracture relationships with the city’s two powerful leaders. After all, she reasoned, they might take revenge by cutting programs for her constituents.
“It didn’t make sense for my district to be hurt,” Ms. Mealy said. “I need to get resources for my district. We’re already so low on the totem pole. It’s actually pathetic. I felt I was acting in the best interest of my district.”
But it actually gets even better:
Posted: November 12th, 2008 | Filed under: Things That Make You Go "Oy"
However, several Brooklyn Democrats who have spoken with Ms. Mealy said that the councilwoman, an active member of the Transport Workers Union before joining the Council, was pressured by the union to support the extension of term limits. In exchange, the officials said, the union would be allowed to regain its right to collect dues from members’ paychecks automatically.
The union was fined $2.5 million and stripped of what is known as dues check-off as punishment for a strike in December 2005.
Over the weekend, Ms. Mealy did not comment on that assertion, saying only that “there was a lot of pressure from all sides.” But in an interview today, she said she had had no contact with the union, adding that no one from the labor group had even contacted her about the term-limits extension bill.