Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a likely mayoral candidate in 2013, can now be counted as a firm critic of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of Hurricane Sandy.
“You remember the recent diplomatic phrase, ‘leading from behind,’” Mr. de Blasio mused on Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s radio show last night. “I think many times the mayor was not exactly on the front line. He was no Chris Christie, let’s say that.”
Senator Chuck Schumer is known for pushing populist issues that may have otherwise flown under the radar, and last weekend, he didn’t disappoint. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission last weekend, Mr. Schumer called on the agency to develop a nationwide plan to improve cell phone service in the aftermath of natural disasters. Earlier today, Mr. Schumer announced the FCC would at least give the New York area a better look by holding field hearings early next year on the issue.
“Field hearings will increase our understanding of the problems encountered during Superstorm Sandy and harvest the best ideas to ensure that mobile phone service doesn’t fail after future storms,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “Mobile communication has become an essential part of our lives, and increasing its reliability must be a top priority. I’d like to thank Chairman Genachowski and the FCC for their good work during the storm, and for beginning to tackle this important issue so quickly after.”
new jersey style
Is it the wet fleece? It’s not immediately clear, but according to a new Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey, New York City voters gave the highest storm response-marks to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, preferring his tactics over President Barack Obama, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Quinnipiac’s director, Maurice Carroll, said these numbers can be attributed to Mr. Christie’s full embrace of Mr. Obama in the wake of the storm.
“The storm-of-the-century brings out the best in Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers say. But that love fest between New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and President Barack Obama seems to have moved voters especially,” Mr. Carroll explained in a statement. “While all four leaders get very high marks – it seems a hug or two never hurts.”
On his weekly radio show with John Gambling this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg delved into history to argue massive coastline protection projects are futile, at least in the face of future storm surges similar to Hurricane Sandy’s. Specifically, Mr. Bloomberg referenced the tale of Denmark’s King Canute, who stood before the waves and ordered the tide to recede.
“If you build a house on the water, there’s a chance of tsunamis, tidal surge, big storms that come off the water,” Mr. Bloomberg explained. “That’s why insurance is so expensive on the water. People have been doing this from time and memorial ever since civilization started. Why do people do it? Because living on the water, for a lot of people, is a great experience and they’re willing to run the risks. Nobody’s happy when nature comes to call and everybody screams we should have done something different. In a practical sense you’re not going to build a wall from the Florida Keys to the northern tip of Maine to protect the whole coast. In fact, you probably could not do that. There’ll never be a technology that can do that. If you remember, King Canute of Denmark tried to stop the tides from coming. It’s a classic story.”
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama toured New Jersey, but, at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, did not go to the hard-hit areas of New York City due to concerns that he would drain emergency resources. That changed today, however, and Mr. Obama is currently in Staten Island along with Mr. Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials. According to our own Hunter Walker, who’s traveling with the president, Mr. Obama surveyed the damage to Breezy Point and the Rockaways from the air, and received a fairly positive response when he landed in Staten Island.
“A group of residents who were here at the center, which was not closed today, are cordoned off about 200 feet from the tents,” he wrote. “They cheered when POTUS arrived. Several became dismayed and shouted ‘Get out of the way’ when the press corps blocked their view of the president.”
Earlier this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Macy’s announced 5,000 tickets for the city’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade will go to families who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
“Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy friends and family and reflect on life’s blessings, but this will be a particularly difficult holiday for many New Yorkers who suffered terrible losses as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “So many people have been donating their time, energy, and resources to helping families hit hard by the storm recover, and we hope that taking part in a tradition like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will make their holiday just a little brighter.”
Earlier today, in Howard Beach, a neighborhood still picking up pieces of debris and pumping water out of basements, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new $500 million capital investment plan to repair the city’s schools and hospitals after Hurricane Sandy battered them. Next to Mr. Bloomberg stood two likely candidates to replace him in 2013, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Comptroller John Liu, who applauded the initiative. In a press release released soon after, a third 2013 candidate, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, stepped up to the plate to praise the move too, but while also offering some of the first direct criticism of Mr. Bloomberg’s handling of the storm.
“The steps announced today by the city are welcome, as it moves forward to make sure our school system meets the challenges of this crisis,” Mr. Thompson said in the statement. “It should not take 14 days to find out that three major New York City public hospitals are so significantly damaged and in desperate need of repair. Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, those who are powerless and without a voice, living in 23 NYCHA buildings are being ignored. Many seniors, families and city workers are trapped in the cold and dark. This is not indicative of a world-class response to a crisis.”
In order to keep the city’s fiscal house in order in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled new cuts and streams of revenue over the weekend. Among the changes, school-lunch fees will increase from $1.50 to $2.50, while city libraries will see their funding axed to the tune of $8.3 million. Asked about it during a press conference today in the hard-hit Howard Beach neighborhood in Queens, Mr. Bloomberg defended the budgetary measures.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t like A, B and C,’” he argued. “Well, what things would they like us to raise taxes [on]? The issue here is that we’re trying to find some balance so that everybody shares a little bit in the pain, everybody contributes; we’re all in this together. And do it such that people can afford [it]. It’s not asking a lot to go, in this day in age, from one price to another if it’s a relatively small price. But if a large number of people do it, it contributes significant revenues.”
During his daily press conference discussing the city’s latest measures to recover from Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a report that he told President Barack Obama to not visit New York in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Mr. Obama, of course, made a well-publicized tour of the damage in New Jersey with Republican Governor Chris Christie instead.
“That’s not true,” Mr. Bloomberg snapped, not waiting for a reporter’s question on the topic to finish. “I didn’t ask him to not to come. We had a conversation of where it would be most effective. I talked to him today, as a matter of fact; he called me. He’s coming to the city next week. We’re honored to have him.”
President Obama will be in town Thursday to survey the damage caused by the hurricane.
Although much of the attention has been focused on New York City, millions of Long Islanders were also caught in Hurricane Sandy’s path, with tens of thousands of them still without electricity or a regular supply of gasoline. In a statement sent out this afternoon by Nassau and Suffolk counties’ entire delegation in the State Senate, the local officials cried out for additional federal assistance. In doing so, they repeatedly raised the specter of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that infamously marred former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“We are facing a massive, Katrina-style disaster here on Long Island that will only get worse unless all of the resources of the federal government are at our disposal. Incredibly, that hasn’t happened yet,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared in the release, the title of which warned of “More Death and Destruction.”