While Christine Quinn made news today with her gender-neutral threats of castration and self-proclaimed ability to “open up the bitch tap and let the water run,” she’s hardly the first New York politician to be prone to such outbursts. Typically a fiery breed, the men and women of our state’s government have been known to explode from time to time, often in public. Below are some of New York’s coarsest pols, past and present, who seem to believe that the gears of government turn faster if you scream at the mechanics.
“I’m a fucking steamroller,” Spitzer screamed at GOP minority leader James Tedisco in the most famous instance of what his aides refer to as going “full Spitzer.” The hotheaded former governor was known for his temper during his tenure, as detailed in a 2007 New York profile, before he was caught with his pants off and socks on. He may have done some screaming on Current TV, but no one noticed.
Not one to handle his staff with kid gloves, Anthony Weiner reportedly faced the tearful near resignation of many of his staffers who “couldn’t take the hours and his yelling anymore,” according to Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do and as summarily reported in the New York Post. In the book, Draper portrays a driven Weiner craving exposure, who “would enter his office in the Rayburn Building screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Why the fuck am I not on MSNBC?!’”
During a heated altercation on the campaign trail, 2010 tea-party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino threatened a New York Post editor by saying “I’ll take you out.” How would he do that? The Post reporter asked, “just watch,” Paladino said, before aides escorted him away. Paladino’s remarks would have been appropriate had he been running for godfather, but voters found them poorly suited for government. Now he’s running for school board and still losing his temper.
Today’s Times article highlights a spiky side of Quinn, who is apparently known for flying into Buddy Rich levels of vitriol when crossed. Besides repeatedly stating she will cut people’s “balls off,” other anecdotes include a former donor being screamed at for ten uninterrupted minutes and staff soundproofing her office to hide her temper. “Did she throw up on you today?” is reportedly a valid question when working for Quinn.
Of the many mayoral outbursts New York has seen in its history, none are as bizarre as Rudy Giuliani’s hatred of ferret activists. In one of his weekly radio shows as mayor back in 1999, Giuliani took a call from a man who cared deeply about a law banning ownership of pet ferrets in NYC. “This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness,” the mayor spit at the concerned caller in a rant that quickly developed a cult following. Another time, upon seeing Yasser Arafat in the audience of the New York Philharmonic for the U.N.’s 50th anniversary, Giuliani reportedly “went ballistic. He totally exploded. He turned red in the face, he started waving his arms, he yelled at his trembling aide as if he were a worm.”
The current mayor’s temper has allegedly gotten worse in recent years, evolving from merely crotchety. While managing to keep it together in public, the mayor is privately liable to let loose at staff: A 2008 Times article claims that as his previous term was expiring, the frustrated mayor could turn “suddenly red faced” with anger and openly berate staff over slight mishaps. “You’re destroying my administration!” Bloomberg apparently screamed at staffers who messed up, an accusation he presumably now yells at large sugary beverages. Meanwhile, across the river, Chris Christie takes a deep breath and gets back to yoga.