2014-04-25 / Editorial/Opinion

Hold The Applause

Well, the mayor got positive media coverage when he announced an overhaul of Build It Back. Various media outlets called his plan ambitious and sweeping. Our city council reps, Eric Ulrich and Donovan Richards, poured on the praise as well. Eric issued a statement praising the mayor for taking “the bull by the horns” and Donovan called it a “major step.”

Frankly, we like the take of Staten Island Borough President James Oddo who is understandably tired of words. “For 18 months, Staten Islanders and those folks impacted by the storm have been inundated with words," Oddo said. "Much like the waves inundated them, they've heard from various levels of government lots of words and haven't seen a whole lot of action.” Of course, he could have been talking about Rockaway.

And for all the ambition and talk of major overhaul we are not all that impressed with a couple of numbers the mayor wanted to tout. He and his team said there would be 500 construction starts by Labor Day. At first glance that might seem impressive. But let’s ask now: what is a start exactly? And when will these jobs be completed? In other words, let’s not hold a parade because the City is starting something. We don’t say “job well done” until the job is well done. Let’s get people back in their homes.

And then there’s the other 500 figure they touted. They said 500 reimbursement checks will be issued by Labor Day. That’s fewer than 125 a month. That’s fewer than 30 per week. In our view, that’s not ambitious. That’s poor.

At that glacial pace, roughly 750 checks will be issued by the two year anniversary. That means thousands, thousands, of people will still be waiting for reimbursement as the second anniversary heads to the third.

We don’t believe it’s a coincidence that there are reports that as much as a billion dollars of Sandy relief money is being eyed to be used in other parts of the country. There will be growing sentiment that if New York can’t or won’t use the Sandy money others will take it.

Staten Island’s Oddo said it well: "We need the sole-minded, laser-like focus that we've seen this mayor demonstrate on some of the victories he's had in the first few months, on this issue."

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