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.”
The comment is especially bold for Mr. Thompson, who may be the most rhetorically cautious of the candidates vying to succeed Mr. Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion.
Thus far, the other contenders have largely avoided blasting the city’s response to the hurricane, although they all piled on Mr. Bloomberg’s initial decision to hold the New York City Marathon. As the city’s electorate looks for a leader to handle future crises, it will be interesting to see if this is a trend.