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Large Majority Of City Council Votes For Living Wage Bill

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By a vote of 45-5, the City Council on Monday passed its living wage bill.

The legislation requires companies getting a million dollars or more in city subsidies to pay their workers at least $10 an hour.

"We live in city where the gap between the rich and poor has widened more than any other city," said Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron.

"We talk about government subsidies, one of my colleagues said that this is a bill we can build on. And that's what I'm terrified of, you will build on this bill," said Queens Councilman Dan Halloran.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was instrumental in forging the living wage bill that passed the City Council Monday; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, has promised to veto it.

Yet at a rally just before Monday’s vote, it was Quinn who objected when someone in the crowd called the mayor "Pharaoh Bloomberg."

"This is not democracy, calling people names you don’t agree with. So whoever said that, I’d ask that he apologize," said Quinn.

When an apology was not immediately forthcoming, Quinn stunned the crowd by cutting her remarks short and marching out.

“Congratulations on the bill, I’m not going to participate in name-calling,” said the speaker, before she left.

That drew some boos and denunciations from some living wage supporters, and potential rivals in next year's mayoral race.

"If you desire to be mayor of this city, and you think democracy is about muzzling the voice of those who have no voice, you have lost your mind,” said the Reverend Michael Walrond, one of the speakers at the rally.

"Of course, people here are angry at the mayor. Of course, they think the mayor is standing in the way of addressing this crisis," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "So I don’t know why the speaker wouldn’t have expected the people in this crowd to have choice words for the mayor."

For some, the incident confirmed that Quinn is too cozy with the mayor. But she later made it clear she could not disagree more with Bloomberg on the issue; what she objects to are personal insults.

"It’s always been important to me to try to keep government above name-calling, keep things civil," Quinn said. "So if we’re going to have name-calling, I just don’t want to participate in that."

While the living wage bill is now passed by the council, it has got a ways to go before becoming law. The City Council should have enough votes to override the mayor's planned veto, but Bloomberg has also promised a legal challenge, which means this bill could be tied up in court for months.

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