2013-08-23 / Editorial/Opinion

Blasé About De Blasio

The new frontrunner in the mayoral race is Bill De Blasio.

We’re not thrilled. We have a bunch of questions for him but we have one for ourselves: does he have a clue about Rockaway?

Politicians figured out the speech a long time ago. Show up occasionally and tell people Rockaway has been a dumping ground for too long; Rockaway is New York’s hidden gem; and tell people Rockaway needs jobs and we need better transportation. To that we say: No sh*t, Sherlock.

Sometimes people ask: how do we bring jobs? The politicians stay on script: Well, first we have to listen to the community. Sounds good. Except “Listening to the community” is a stall tactic that runs forever.

Some rare leader will come along one day and say: I have actually listened to the community and I have some of my own ideas and I’ve put them all together. Let’s have a look. Imagine that.

But there’s no rare leader in sight so let’s again consider Bill De Blasio from a Rockaway perspective. Does he have a clue?

Before the A line was restored in May, the bus service in Far Rockaway was particularly lousy. He came to a rally to demand better service. He’s being paid to be a Public Advocate so we figure he was advocating. So let’s give him credit for doing his job.

He recently came to a healthcare workers’ rally at St. John’s. He and other candidates came in for the photo op. What did he say? We need better healthcare options in Rockaway? Great insight.

Here’s the thing. Rockaway ain’t what it used to be. There are great things in line to come this way while at the same time there are some potentially devastating forces that could derail a great future.

Does Bill De Blasio know anything about CDBG money (HUD monies being used to rebuild impacted areas); does he know anything about or have plans for more HUD money which will be heading to the City? City Hall has a lot of say in how these billions will be spent.

De Blasio’s website suggests he supports much of Mayor Bloomberg’s resiliency initiatives presented in the SIRR report in June which is generally a good thing. He wants to build better infrastructure and mitigate the impact of future disasters. Just like every other candidate.

As stated, there’s a script for how politicians speak to Rockaway voters. There is also a script for addressing climate change challenges.

But his website did not address flood insurance premiums that threaten to undermine neighborhoods and businesses. There is no indication that he understands this to be a looming disaster. Our next administration can’t spend valuable months getting up to speed. Although the National Flood Insurance Program is federally run, New York City has a very loud voice. It would be comforting to know its voice included expertise in addition to volume.

Too bad we have to rely on his website for information. As far as we can tell, De Blasio hasn’t been in the Sandy-impacted areas on the west side of Rockaway in 2013.

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