The Daily Q: What’s the Council Speaker’s track record on State-of-the-City promises?

What’s the Council Speaker’s track record on State-of-the-City promises? First Governor Andrew Cuomo, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and now it’s City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. New York’s second-most powerful figure in city government will be giving her annual State of the City speech today at noon, her sixth since assuming the position in 2006. While…

What’s the Council Speaker’s track record on State-of-the-City promises?

First Governor Andrew Cuomo, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and now it’s City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. New York’s second-most powerful figure in city government will be giving her annual State of the City speech today at noon, her sixth since assuming the position in 2006.

While the latest City Hall gossip has been all about Quinn’s proposal for mandatory kindergarten for all city five-year-olds and a loan program to pay for child care, the New York World would like to know: How has the Council Speaker fared on promises made in past speeches?

If you have information or insights to share, please comment below, write us, or tweet to @thenyworld.

What we found

Speaker Quinn has managed to follow through on most of her proposals and supported bills highlighted in her 2011 State of the City speech, an impressive list that has helped pushed her to forefront in the 2013 mayoral race. Among them were two “fair parking” bills the council passed, which reduce the number of alternate-side parking days and add a grace period before drivers receive tickets for expired MuniMeter parking receipts. Quinn also made good on her promise for new legislation to create this useful interactive map launched just last month showing street closures, which will be updated with parking rule changes later this year.

But a quick look back into the Speaker’s earlier years show her past proposals haven’t been as successful, with a substantial number of her initiatives seemingly abandoned or forgotten. Here are some of them (and we’ve linked each proposal to the corresponding excerpts in the respective speeches):

• In the Speaker’s first State of the City speech, the highlight was a $300 tax credit for as many as 1.1 million apartment renters, a proposal that would have required backing from Albany. It sounded great, but Quinn did not actually end up winning the credits for renters.

• A year later, Quinn proposed creating a year-round ferry system connecting all five boroughs, an idea that has since failed to set sail. Instead, more limited service has launched on the East River.

• Quinn’s big push for 2009 was for the procurement of a “.nyc” internet domain. The speaker envisioned that the domain would bring in millions of dollars each year. As Quinn elaborated in that year’s State of the City: “Web sites end with dot com, dot org, dot this and dot that…. New York City will soon have its own place on the Web — with dot NYC…. A local business won’t have to outbid a guy in Kansas to get Tony’s Pizza dot com. They’ll be able to get Tony’s Pizza dot NYC, a name associated with the greatest city — and home of the greatest pizza — in the world.” Yet three years on, the City has yet to obtain the top-level domain name of .nyc and may have been beaten to it some 16 years ago by an East village dweller, Paul Garrin.

• 2010 was the year of economic development talk, and Quinn promised job creation through multiple initiatives, at least two of which don’t seem to have ever existed. One was “NYC High-Tech Connect” – a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and catalyst for the high-tech industry. The other was a “Renewable Energy Investment Initiative” that she announced David Arena of the real estate firm Grubb & Ellis would spearhead in order to bring big energy companies and new businesses to the five boroughs. “Through this initiative we’ll create good jobs – not just for scientists and engineers, but for salespeople, accountants, construction workers and truck drivers,” vowed Quinn. Four months later, Arena moved to JP Morgan as a top executive, and the program does not appear to have materialized.

Contacted late this afternoon following this year’s speech, the Speaker’s office was not available to respond to a request for comment.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s somewhat unfair to criticize Speaker Quinn for the city’s failure to acquire the .nyc TLD as she called for in her 2009 state-of-the-city address, as the opportunity to apply for a city Top Level Domains only arrived on January 12th of this year.

    However, city government has not acted in a manner that will enable it to take advantage of this important opportunity. Since the Speaker’s 2009 speech, there’s not been a single council hearing on this complex issue, nor one by city planning (the organization we recommend be the lead agency), nor by DoITT, or any other city agency. And in a recent conversation with a city council member, I was informed that the council had no plans to do so, and that the matter was now “at city hall” awaiting decision.

    At a meeting last week of the Commission on Public Information and Communication called by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, I testified that when faced with an issue of equal complexity, developing the city’s street grid, it took four years to develop a suitable plan – the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811. And with only 60 days remaining until ICANN closes the filing window for this round of TLD applications, our organization, with extreme reluctance, recommended in December that the city forgo applying at this time and focus its attention on preparing an application for the next time ICANN opens the filing window. (Just today ICANN announced its intention to reopen the filing window in the not too distant future.)

    This is an area with which our organization has been closely involved for 6 years. Indeed, our organization was formed pursuant to an Internet Empowerment Resolution passed by Queens Community Board 3 in April 2001. It called for .nyc’s acquisition and development as a public interest resource. That resolution recommended that city government or a public interest organization facilitate .nyc’s arrival. In 2005, after the city stated it was not interested in applying for .nyc, we formed Inc. as a NYS non-profit to advocate and facilitate the development of the .nyc Top Level Domain. With the Speaker’s announcement in 2009 we assumed that the city was taking a responsible role in this important development and stepped aside.

    Its time the city begin researching the potential uses for the TLD, that it educate the public on this important issue, hold hearings, and craft a plan that will facilitate the development of our city’s digital infrastructure.

    We continue to maintain our wiki and blog as resources for cities globally. While our wiki provides many answers, some basic research remains to be done. For example: Since there are as yet no recycling plans for TLDs, how do we assure that good domain names – those that are short, descriptive and memorable – are available for future generations? Where are public commons, the equivalent of Central Park, to be found in .nyc? What role might the TLD play in facilitating regionalization? And how do we assure that our very culture is not monetized and sold off in digital pieces, name by name?