Sister team ponies up to oust Quinn - NYCLASS

Sister team ponies up to oust Quinn

Meet the "Anyone but Quinn" sisters. Both are business owners: Wendy Kelman Neu is the CEO of Hugo Neu, an electronics recycling firm with almost 100 employees and facilities in Westchester and Connecticut; Jacqueline Kelman Bisbee operates Park Pictures, a Manhattan-based film and television production company that she founded 15 years ago.

22 April 2013
By Andrew J. Hawkins

Meet the "Anyone but Quinn" sisters. Both are business owners: Wendy Kelman Neu is the CEO of Hugo Neu, an electronics recycling firm with almost 100 employees and facilities in Westchester and Connecticut; Jacqueline Kelman Bisbee operates Park Pictures, a Manhattan-based film and television production company that she founded 15 years ago.

They are passionate about animal rights, workers' rights and the environment. And both will do whatever it takes to sink Council Speaker Christine Quinn's bid for mayor.

They are helping to fund a negative ad campaign targeting Ms. Quinn for supporting the carriage-horse industry, extending term limits and delaying paid-sick-leave and living-wage legislation. They have poured $200,000 into the $1 million "NYC is Not 4 Sale" campaign, which has aired one television commercial and has more on the way.

Ms. Neu had been working with her husband, John, for months on an independent expenditure targeting Ms. Quinn when he died suddenly in March. Ms. Neu carried on with the campaign to defeat the speaker, whom many see as the only pro-business Democrat running for mayor. The effort's other funders are businessman Steve Nislick and union leader Arthur Cheliotes.

"I've never been involved in a mayoral race before," said Ms. Neu, addressing the reluctance of businesspeople to speak out about elected officials. "People are very concerned. Whether it's Christine Quinn or whoever, I think there's a culture of fear to some extent. But I think as time goes on, more people will come on."

For the sisters, the decision was political and personal. Ms. Bisbee, who lives in Ms. Quinn's district in Chelsea, blames the speaker for failing to prevent St. Vincent's Medical Center from shuttering in 2010. A few months after it closed, Ms. Bisbee's 80-year-old mother was taken by ambulance from Chelsea to an East Side hospital with double pneumonia. Ms. Bisbee believes not having St. Vincent's nearby could have been fatal.

"It was a wake-up call," Ms. Bisbee said. "[Ms. Quinn] is someone I could have supported."

Ms. Neu and her husband, in fact, both gave $4,950, the maximum, to Quinn in 2007. They have since done the same for Quinn rival Bill de Blasio, the public advocate.

"Of course we want anyone but Quinn," Ms. Neu said. "But I'm hoping in the meantime that we've elevated the discussion."

Ms. Quinn's reaction to the first ad, which aired in early April, was swift: In a fundraising blast to her supporters, she called it "a disgrace" and blamed "special interests...closely aligned with my opponents." She called on her rivals to denounce such independent expenditures (some did) and tried to have the ad taken off the air.

Ms. Neu's company handled the city's metal, glass and plastic recycling exclusively until 2005, when it merged with Sims Group. Ms. Neu said she no longer lobbies or does business with the city.

She is aware that her efforts, as a business owner, to tar and feather the ostensibly most pro-business Democrat in the race might seem strange or affect her ability to obtain city contracts in the future. But she urged others in the business community to set aside any fears and get involved.

"If you're going to complain," Ms. Neu said, "then do something about it."

Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130421/POLITICS/304219998

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