2013-10-04 / Front Page

MISSING: de Blasio Ignores West End

By Kevin Boyle

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is getting closer.

He visited the Rockaway peninsula on Sunday, September 29th and got as far west as Beach 51st Street for the purpose of a photo op at the shuttered

Peninsula Hospital Center. No one has seen him on the west end since he marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade – an event that doesn’t lend itself to seeing much of the actual damage of the storm or to meeting people and hearing about their Sandy- impacted lives.

Fire burned more than 120 houses in Breezy Point and dozens of homes and businesses in Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park. The west end was the more heavily damaged area of the peninsula yet de Blasio hasn’t set foot in the area save for that one parade march.

On Saturday, hundreds of people showed up for a Stop FEMA Now rally in Broad Channel. All local elected officials or their representatives were there.  But de Blasio, even though his team had been told of the rally, was nowhere to be found.

The Wave asked de Blasio directly on Sunday: when are you coming to the west end? De Blasio: I’ve been there. Wave: Not in 2013.

The mayoral hopeful paused, thinking about it, apparently stumped, and then said “I’ll get there.”

State Senator James Sanders, standing next to de Blasio said, “Maybe The Wave will endorse him if he does [show up].”

The Wave editorial page has been after de Blasio for some time. The paper has asked “If he’s not showing concern as a candidate, in the year following Sandy, what can we expect if he’s mayor?” The Wave has maintained that “showing up” counts and that Sandy- impacted places need to be seen. De Blasio chose to skip various democratic mayoral forums held in Rockaway throughout the spring and summer and was not seen otherwise on the west end. While he’s been a complete no- show on the west end, he has not exactly been a regular visitor on the east end, either. Prior to Sunday he had made only two visits to Far Rockaway since he announced his candidacy in January. Neither of those visits were about Sandy. The first visit was at a transit rally to improve shuttle service while the A Line was out of service and the second visit was at a rally held at St. John’s Hospital organized by groups in fear the hospital might close. Sunday’s visit, at which he addressed a crowd in St. Mary’s Star of the Sea’s auditorium, was the first time he came to Rockaway to talk about Sandy- related issues. He said he hoped to use Sandy relief money to help build a better Far Rockaway.

The Wave has noted irony in his campaign theme, A Tale of Two Cities. Assuming his perception of the city is fair, if he’s avoiding or staying away from areas like Belle Harbor and Breezy Point he’s making sure the city stays divided.

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