It’s the tale of two press releases.
On Wednesday, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sent out a press release entitled, “DE BLASIO APPLAUDS CITY’S DECISION TO HOLD MARATHON AS SCHEDULED.” Moments ago, however, Mr. de Blasio fired off a second one: “DE BLASIO: NEEDS REMAIN TOO GREAT TO DIVERT RESOURCES, MARATHON MUST BE POSTPONED.”
The move is a tribute to the increasingly contentious decision of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave the official go-ahead to the New York City Marathon this Sunday, generating much backlash among the tabloids and outer borough pols, angry about the possibility of resources being diverted away from Hurricane Sandy-ravaged communities. To explain his transition, Mr. de Blasio said listening to the people of Staten Island helped change his mind.
“The pain and suffering still unfolding in our neighborhoods is too deep for words. I walked more streets with Councilman Oddo in Staten Island today, and listened to people who still remain without power, food and water – so near the race’s starting point,” he said. “It’s convinced me the needs are simply too great to divert any resources from the recovery. Lodgings reserved for marathoners must be re-allocated to utility workers. We need to postpone the Marathon and keep our focus where it belongs: on public safety and vital relief operations.”
Mr. de Blasio, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, is not alone in changing his mind. Comptroller, and fellow Gracie Mansion contender, John Liu announced a position reversal this afternoon as well. “Earlier this week, I stated support for keeping the New York City Marathon, which is a huge economic generator for the City, on schedule assuming that the City’s infrastructure would be able to support the race and New Yorkers’ safety can be ensured,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it has become apparent over the last couple of days that there are still large parts of the City where recovery efforts are falling short, where fellow New Yorkers remain hungry and cold, and where there is now more and more looting. As I have traveled throughout the boroughs since Sandy struck, it has become clear that the Marathon would compromise the City’s ability to protect and provide for the residents most affected by the hurricane.”
All three other top 2013 candidates, 2009 nominee Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, also said they opposed the Marathon going ahead.
For his part, Mr. Bloomberg has maintained the safety of New Yorkers will not be compromised by the sporting event.
Update (2:40 p.m.): A New York Times article this afternoon contained Ms. Quinn’s stated opposition to the marathon.
Update: (3:35 p.m.): GOP candidate Tom Allon issued a statement accusing all of the above Democrats of “pandering.”
“We’re living in a highly-charged and evolving crisis and the Mayor’s leadership has been sound thus far. Second guessing the Mayor’s decision on the scheduling of the Marathon is an easy way for Democratic candidates for 2013 to get attention and score points with outraged New Yorkers. The anger that is being expressed by the elected leaders of Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens reflects the concerns and frustrations being felt for the ongoing hardships of their constituents. For them, the marathon symbolizes misplaced priorities.
“Personally, I would have delayed the Marathon for at least a week, like other sporting events have been postponed, like the Knicks-Nets game was postponed for four days, so that we can concentrate on helping all those in need and getting our electricity and mass transit back.”
“But those Democrats thinking of running for Mayor should please stop offering half baked opinions and then changing them a little while later. That’s not leadership. It’s pandering and politicking.”