Friday, May 30, 2008

Another construction crane collapses in New York, taking some lives, ruining others. But where’s the mayor? And where’s the outrage?

I’ve begun writing this just before 10 AM. About an hour and 45 minutes ago, roughly a mile from where I live, yet another of those death-dealing construction cranes collapsed in New York.

It’s hard to tell how many are dead. At least two, says NBC News. At least one, say another report. They’ve barely begun to dig around in the rubble for bodies. Meanwhile, I've been hearing the wail of fire engines and ambulances all morning from my window, and the roar of helicopters overhead.

Once again, the crane not only damaged its own construction site, but destroyed some apartments in a building across the street. Firemen are searching for victims, living or dead. People in the area – and there are hundreds of apartments in the area – are being evacuated.

It’s little more than a week ago that I wrote an angry rant about the mayor ignoring the safety and health concerns of his fellow New Yorkers, instead focusing on congestion pricing and other headline-grabbing causes. (Scroll down a bit to find it.)

Peek-a-boo! Where’s the mayor?

This morning, so far, we’ve not heard from the mayor. The highest ranking official I’ve heard interviewed was Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. He did a credible PR job for the politicians who are “discussing” what to do about collapsing cranes, while failing, at least in the two interviews I’ve heard, either to express concern for the dead and displaced New Yorkers, or to express any amazement or outrage whatsoever that you put your life in danger just by living here.

Hey, where is Mayor Bloomberg? Out in Podunk, giving another political speech? Or taking a long weekend at his retreat in Bermuda? Who knows? His home is also only a mile from the disaster. He could have walked from his front door to the disaster in 20 minutes, even if his limo wasn’t handy.

Fleeing from action

Former Mayor Ed Koch, even Mayor Giuliani (whom I like even less than Bloomberg) would have been on the scene almost instantly, at least appearing to be irate that such a thing could happen in their cities. They thrived at running toward the disasters, not away from them.

Somebody in municipal government ought to be in high dudgeon. Instead, all we New Yorkers are getting are the equivalent of a high-handed shrug. It’s the CEO attitude: “Well, you know, we need to make progress and sometimes there are accidents.”

In other words, City Officials To New Yorkers: "Drop Dead."

Saturday Morning Addendum: I'm away for the weekend, with only limited access to a borrowed computer. Friends called to say that some time last night on television (I think they mentioned NBC) there was footage shown of the mayor making a statement about the collapse. They think he used the words "intolerable" or "unacceptable." I'm told he even sounded, if not outraged, at least somewhat piqued. Well hallelujah! Maybe someone on his staff is reading The New York Crank.

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