Thursday, April 17, 2014

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De Blasio Pushes Back Against Opponents' Doubts Over Pre-K Plan

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Bill de Blasio seems to be enjoying his front-runner status in the Democratic primary battle for mayor despite constant attacks from his opponents, while Christine Quinn, the one-time leader of the pack, got a Bronx cheer at a labor rally Thursday. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Bill de Blasio is pushing back against naysayers who argue that a campaign proposal central to his bid for mayor will never get off the ground.

The public advocate has proposed taxing wealthy New Yorkers to pay for universal pre-kindergarten, but the tax hike would need to be approved in Albany.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is running for re-election next year, and Albany insiders say there is no chance it would happen while the governor is seeking a second term.

"I think it can be done with the support of the people," de Blasio said. "In a democracy, what decides whether something is too ambitious or not is what the people want to see happen."

His rivals in the mayor's race, though, are dismissive.

"Bill de Blasio's plan to expand early childhood education has been repeatedly described as "pie in the sky" and undoable," said Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.

"If you call bold being a fantasy plan, then yes, it is the boldest," said Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson.

The sparring took place on the heels of two reports that de Blasio's opponents used as ammunition. One said that de Blasio met secretly meeting with lobbyists, despite promising to disclose lobbyist meetings to the public. The other said that de Blasio's appointee to the City Planning Commission voted with the Bloomberg administration 93 percent of the time.

"I think it's abundantly clear the real estate industry is working overtime to elect Chris Quinn or Bill Thompson," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said his appointee was the most independent on the planning commission. He said he disclosed all meetings with lobbyists when they actually lobbied on behalf of a client.

There was some agreement on the campaign trail, though, when it came to fighting for better pay for fast food workers. Several Democratic candidates came to a rally in Union Square to advocate for the issue, but one of them, Christine Quinn, got a chilly reception.

"It is so great to get to be here with so many of you again," Quinn said.

The feeling was not entirely mutual. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP