Mad Max: I'm scared, Fif. It's that rat circus out there, I'm beginning to enjoy it. Look, any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys. — Mel Gibson, Mad Max, 1979
The political core of the Big Apple is rotten. There’s no other reasonable way to describe Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to proceed with the Sunday New York Marathon, aptly named “The Post-Apocalyptical Mad Max Race” by WBAL Radio Producer Chris Imms.
In New York, home of the original rat race, first responders are still wading through flood water and debris in search of survivors. Lives have been lost; homes destroyed; the subways and businesses flooded; Wall Street was closed for two days; and 900,000 Con Ed customers lost power.
The race starts on Staten Island, site of some of the worst damage and destruction and where 19 people died as a result of the storm. Cleanup is underway but there is much work to be done but City employees are working on the Finish Line in Central Park.
More than 20 miles of city roads will be closed and manned by an estimated thousand police officers for the 47,000 runners and 8,000 race volunteers.
At a recent press conference defending his decision to proceed with the race despite Sandy’s wrath, Mayor Bloomberg, supposedly one of the good guys, argued that the race provides a valuable economic stimulus and will not place “too heavy a burden” on the city’s police department.
He expects powers to be restored to downtown Manhattan—an estimated 570,000 Con Ed customers are still without power—by Sunday.
Bloomberg went on cite the thousands of out-of-town spectators coming to the City to cheer on the runners, saying “There’s an awful lot of small business that depend on these people. We have an economy.”
He said, “It’s a great event for New York, and I think those who were lost, you know, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”
Marathon organizers have announced that they will donate $26.20 for each runner to aid the New Yorkers affected by the storm. That could total a million dollars if all those who signed up for the race show up on Sunday.
The race fee was increased this year to pay for police overtime. Those registered who choose not to run in a war zone will not receive a refund; rather, their registration fee will transfer to next year’s race. There’s been announcement on race participation numbers yet.
But I digress…
Controversy over the Mayor’s decision is brewing up yet another storm. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie he “believes Mayor Bloomberg should postpone the New York City marathon.
“The prudent course of action here —postpone the marathon, come back a different day,” Stringer said. “Our first priority, let’s help people who lost their homes, who are missing loved ones,” he added.
Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm told Guthrie he’s “angry” about the Mayor’s decision.
New York City Councilman James Oddo Tweeted “If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon, I will scream. We have people with no homes and no hope right now.”
Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino said “Staten Island is the “ground zero’ of Sandy damage.”
But it’s New York, and there’s a large contingency of residents claiming that the race is good for the city, that they are a hardy bunch, that nothing stops them. Many New Yorkers are known for their “take it or leave it” attitude, for being tough, worldly and urbane.
The Urban Dictionary www.urbandictionary.com defines New Yorkers as being “better than you, me, and anyone else who is not from New York City.”
Amid the controversy, Bloomberg, who had the City file an application (No. 78484751) in February, 2005, to trademark the slogan “The World’s Second Home” for the exclusive rights to use it for promotion, business and tourism, continues to claim “It’s a great event for New York…”
Tell that to those dealing with the loss of loved ones and their earthly possessions and these homeowners:
The Marathon will be televised. Too bad it will be shot in real time and not a reality show filmed on some Hollywood back lot.
June Smith founded this tribute website in honor of her late husband, Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy Award winner, and Baltimore Sun Columnist. Smith was a media titan in Maryland and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. She blogs for Red Maryland www.RedMaryland.Blogspot.com; her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.