Thursday, October 30, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Two Years and Counting after Sandy

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It was a fitting Hurricane Sandy anniversary present from the city last night – yet another form to be filled out to an applicant to its Build It Back program.

The e-mailed "Demographic Information Survey" is short and simple but it is yet another layer in the onion of bureaucracy that residents must peel before they see any additional federal relief money – two years after the hurricane struck their homes.

The numbers are slowly improving in the city's and residents' favor but Build It Back should be a textbook case in urban affairs programs of how not to do things after a disaster strikes. It will be one of the worst legacies of the Bloomberg administration – like a 311 call put on indefinite hold.

After initially seeming like he needed a compass to find storm-damaged neighborhoods in Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn, Mayor de Blasio has finally upped his game, talking about storm recovery and sounding more conversant with issues that thousands of New Yorkers have been grappling with over the last two years.

Still, one of the most politically tone-deaf moves from the mayor comes with the planned removal of Rockaway's ferry just two days after the storm's anniversary. If the city doesn't have the money to subsidize the trips of hundreds of daily commuters, the mayor should have come up with something positive to point to when it comes to transportation for residents. It shouldn't take a hurricane to improve people's trip to work.

It would also be smart for the city and other agencies to become more aggressive with its timeline for rebuilding. Does it really take five years to replace the boardwalk? Should a library on Rockaway Beach Boulevard still be shuttered by the storm when the apartment house next to it has been filled with tenants for more than a year?

Rockaway is clearly going to be a stronger and a better place as rebuilding continues -- but the mayor needs to use the same aggressive timeline with this project that he employed with universal pre-K.

"Hurry up and Wait" isn't a catchy motto – but it's what we're stuck with two years after the ocean met the bay in Rockaway.

Bob Hardt

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