Mayor Bloomberg has gotten his fair share of criticism for deciding to go ahead with the annual New York City Marathon, given the devastation throughout the city following Hurricane Sandy, including not far from the starting line in Staten Island. But the mayor is sticking to his previous promise to have the race run, to send a message of New York’s recovery and to help buoy an economy that has been battered by the storm.
“As Rudy Giuliani said to me this morning, he said, ‘You know, right after 9/11 people said the same thing,’” Mayor Bloomberg said. Being Mike Bloomberg, he then launched into an economic defense for his decision. “New York has to show that we’re here, we are going to recover, and that while we help people we can still help companies that need the business, still generate the tax base so that we have the resources to help people. We can give people something to cheer about in what’s been a very dismal week for some people.”
More than excitement, the mayor seemed to stress this was a matter of hope. “I think Rudy had it right, you have to keep going, and doing things,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “You can grieve, you can cry and you can laugh all at the same time. That’s what human beings are good at.”
One of the biggest concerns seems to be diverting city resources away from the recovery effort, but Mayor Bloomberg insisted that would not happen.
“It does use some resources, but it doesn’t use resources that can really make a difference in recovery, that sort of thing,’ the mayor said. “It’s a different group of people, it’s a relatively small amount of people, it’s the Sanitation Departments resources. And we have to have the city going forward. I don’t think there’s any question there are New Yorkers who have lost loved ones, we can’t replace that, people who have lost their homes, we have to do everything we can to make sure they recover, it’s hard for people to get through this thing, and I can assure you we are doing that. “
Were there any threat to the recovery efforts, the mayor insisted he would not allow the race to continue. “We have plenty of police officers who work in areas that aren’t effected, we don’t take all of them and move them into areas that are effected,” the mayor said. “There will be no diversion of resources, there will be no redistribution of our efforts, no diminution of our efforts. We have a 24/7 operation going, which I’m confident we’re gonna do. We have to do everything we can to help people.”
The mayor also pointed out that the New York Road Runners, the group that organizes the race, was doing its part, donating $1 million to the city’s recovery fund, with an additional $1 million possible from runners, who are being asked to contribute $26.20, an homage to the 26.2-mile length of a typical marathon.
“As Mary Wittenberg, the head of the Road Runners club said, they’re running this race to help New York City, and the donations from all the runners and clubs are going to be a big relief to our relief efforts,” the mayor said.