Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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City Council Approves Wage Bill, Banking Regulation Opposed By Mayor

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The City Council overrode a veto from the mayor on a prevailing wage law for building service employees and approved legislation requiring banks that hold city deposits to report on lending and access to low-income communities. NY1's Courtney Gross filed this report.

It's not often that the City Council and the mayor disagree but on Tuesday they did. Twice.

First, the council overrode a mayoral veto to require recipients of city subsidies pay building service workers a so-called prevailing wage, which are set by the city comptroller.

Then, in another blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the council approved legislation to require some of the nation's largest banks to disclose their lending practices and how they provide access to poor communities.

"They should have looked in the mirror before they voted for it. They should have looked in the mirror before they overrode it," said Bloomberg.

"The vast majority of us at the City Council believe that when businesses decide of their own free will to take city subsidies or take a high level of city tenants, it is appropriate for us to put a fair additional wage requirement on them," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Large buildings where the city leases a majority of the space would also have to comply with the new city subsidies legislation.

The bill was pushed by Local 32BJ, one of the city's largest unions and a powerful player in next year's mayoral election.

"Coming on 2013, we have many good options to get a new mayor," said Hector Figueroa, the secretary-treasurer of Local 32BJ. "We are very thankful to work with the speaker as well as all the elected officials."

Bloomberg was not happy about the second legislation being passed because he did not think the city was capable of regulating the banking industry.

"Nobody would argue, I would think, [that] the city has the expertise or the resources to try to regulate the banking industry," he said. "It is just ridiculous."

Quinn disagreed.

"Of course we involve ourselves in the marketplace to a responsible degree to cause positive things to happen for the public," she said.

Bloomberg has threatened to sue the City Council over the legislation. Quinn said she expects the City Council to prevail in any potential lawsuit.

Both measures are seen by some political observers as a way for Quinn to distance herself from Bloomberg as she mounts a likely mayoral campaign in 2013.

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