At a mayoral candidate forum this morning, hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and held at St. Francis College, three Republican candidates and one Independence candidate fielded questions from a number of borough Chambers of Commerce. Jack Friedman of the Queens Chamber of Commerce posed a question concerning the ongoing Sandy recovery.
Joe Lhota provided the most direct answer to the question, which asked about infrastructure and transportation needs, by discussing the A train restoration, bus service and bridge reinforcement. He began with a different focus, however, describing his “number one priority” as seeking to “never again have a situation with a natural disaster where the City doesn’t have an incident commander”, citing the lack of an incident commander as contributing (or even causing?) delays and a lack of coordination in the City’s early response. He and George McDonald then bickered over whether, as Lhota put it, the mayor “needed to be taken away from [Rockaway] for his own safety” during a visit to Rockaway three days after the storm.
John Catsimatidis said that he has “been talking to investment bankers” about “creating a $100 billion fund … concentrated on infrastructure” in the City. Unclear on what that would really mean or whether it is anywhere near reality. Catsimatidis also noted that “I am building in Coney Island … three towers … beginning this spring or early summer.” In case you’re interested in moving in, he added the comforting guidance that “you can’t build something that if the wind blows too hard, it just falls over.”
As we noted when we posted a similar clip from a Democratic candidate forum, New Yorkers who continue to rebuild would be wise to work to foster a sustained discussion by the candidates, as our next mayor’s level of knowledge, interest and engagement will be a deeply influential force on the long term recovery.
We’ve posted the full question and all four answers. Although it runs about 9 minutes, if you are interested in the ongoing Sandy recovery, it’s worth watching.