With the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaching, both Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio united in grandstanding yesterday– strong arming the city's Campaign Finance Board into moving their debate that was scheduled for tomorrow until Wednesday night. "This day should be marked with solemn reflection and remembrance,'' the candidates said in a joint statement.
Never mind that the candidates could have objected four months ago when the debate was announced; it's not exactly like the anniversary date of the storm suddenly moved.
And never mind that the fact that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who were affected by the storm won't be sitting around reflecting tomorrow, they'll be working or going about their lives like they have for much of the last year – something both of the candidates should be doing. I live in the Rockaways and I don't know a single person who expressed any kind of concern that a debate was scheduled for tomorrow night.
The best way to mark the anniversary and honor the dead would be to hold a discussion and debate about they city's future; de Blasio and Lhota weren't going to play ping pong. It would have been fitting to talk about the many projects that still need to be accomplished in the wake of the storm including rebuilding Rockaway's boardwalk, maintaining its ferry, and expediting federal funds to homeowners.
Getting into the spirit of political gestures, the MTA tomorrow is giving free rides to R train riders in Brooklyn and A train riders from Howard Beach and the Rockaways in Queens. Just a reminder: This is the same agency that brought back the toll on the bridges to the Rockaways a little more than a month after the hurricane as volunteers were still streaming to neighborhoods to help people who lost their homes. And it's the same agency that wasn't able to restore subway service to the peninsula for seven months following the hurricane.
So while I'll gladly pocket my $2.50 tomorrow morning, I hope that both the mayoral candidates and the MTA understand why so many residents still want to make a gesture at them that's anything but empty.