Mayor Bill de Blasio held his 49th council district town hall last Monday night, joining Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in Glendale. Crowley, a Democrat, lost her bid for a third term in November and the term hall included several warm comments on her tenure from audience members and the mayor. Councilmember-elect Bob Holden, a registered Democrat who ran on the Republican line in November after losing to Crowley in the Democratic primary, did not attend.
A cold, bitter wind blew across Rockaway Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t the sentiment of residents toward Mayor de Blasio, but an actual wind blowing in from Jamaica Bay during the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The cold temperature and strong wind dampened attendance, but those turning out appeared to have their usual good time. It’s a world apart from the large Fifth Avenue parades, and even from many parades in other parts of the City, with a strong small town feel to it as the parade flows through a suburban neighborhood of single family homes. Green-clothed crowds filled many front lawns and porches, with cheers for the marchers interspersed amid a steady flow of eating, drinking and talking.
Rockaway ferry service supporters came to City Hall Thursday evening to urge Mayor de Blasio to continue operating the service past it’s scheduled October cessation. Initiated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while the A train was out of service for months, the ferry is subsidized by the City at an annual cost of approximately $6 million. The City calculates that the subsidy is at least $25 per passenger/trip. The de Blasio administration had continued the Bloomberg administration’s short term ferry funding, but has announced that the subsidy will end in October.
The rally featured two citywide elected officials, Scott Stringer and Tish James, as well as Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Members Eric Ulrich and Vincent Gentile.
The Rockaway peninsula’s physical separation from the rest of the City is matched by a sense of political separation. It’s particularly so in the neighborhoods which most use the ferry, with many residents believing that City Hall is not looking out for them. Those western neighborhoods, such as Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, overwhelmingly voted for Joe Lhota in 2013 and have little in the way of a political relationship with Bill de Blasio.
de Blasio Departs:
Mayor de Blasio left City Hall during the rally, passing just behind the rally as he headed toward his car. Rallygoers took note, loudly chanting and calling out to him, but his only acknowledgment or engagement with them was a small wave as he moved past. The mayor continued talking with an aide, ignoring the chants of “no ferry, no votes.” Unfortunately for the ferry supporters, he did okay in his last election without their votes.
Update – Elected Officials Speak:
Here are the remarks of the elected officials: