October 21, 2011
By Marc Bussanich
On Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Council Speaker Christine Quinn told a business-packed audience comprised of individuals from the Real Estate Board of New York, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and some prominent public relations and law firms such as Linden Alschuler & Kaplan and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel that diversifying the city’s economy was essential if the city wanted to retain its position as the nation’s leading economic engine.
She followed up that call for jobs on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 with a visit to the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) New York trade conference at the Grand Hyatt where managers of all types of building properties were in attendance.
She told the audience that when she spoke at the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) on Tuesday she mentioned how the Center for Family Life Sunset Park helped people working in daycare, catering, home cleaning and elder care create worker-owned businesses.
“These types of businesses alone can’t end high overall unemployment, but it kept these people from being unemployed,” said Quinn. She then asked the audience that if they have any suggestions to create or expand jobs, they should contact her office.
One area for potential job growth in the industry is retrofitting the city’s approximately 900,000 buildings to make them more energy efficient, as required by PlaNYC.
But Edward Fallon, Vice President of Operations at Brookfield Office Properties, couldn’t provide any specifics on how the industry could increase jobs, but was pleasantly surprised by Quinn’s suggestion and said the organization would contact Quinn’s office to explore opportunities.
Quinn thanked BOMA for the skilled expertise it provides to the Council when it is considering changes to building operation and maintenance because “we just don’t have that type of technical expertise among Council staff,” said Quinn.
This year’s BOMA’s conference focused on weather’s economic impact. It’s almost a year since the December 2010 blizzard crippled the city, but when the topic of emergency preparedness is raised, the MTA still receives its share of digs.
Quinn said when she and her staff convened an oversight committee after the storm to learn how the agency could have prevented stranded transit goers, she asked MTA officials, “How many people were assigned to shovel snow from bus stops?” “I was enraged that the officials could not provide an adequate answer.”
“People don’t always get everything for their taxes, but snow removal should be one of them,” noted Quinn.
Just as a business professional had challenged Quinn on Tuesday at the ABNY event that the Zuccotti Park protesters are beginning to give Wall Street a negative image, a building manager at BOMA asked Quinn when the protests will come to a halt.
Just like on Tuesday, Quinn walked a fine line between expressing her support for protesters to express their First Amendments Rights while simultaneously reassuring the city’s powerful building owners that she respects private property.
“I talked to Richard Clark [President and CEO of Brookfield Office Properties] last week and told him I would respect whichever decision he made. But I’m glad there was no showdown because it might have ended badly. Only time will tell if there’s a way for the protesters to continue to express themselves without burdening the park and surrounding property owners,” said Quinn.
Council Speaker Continues Jobs Tour
October 21, 2011