Volume 16 • Issue 42 | March 19 - 25, 2004


Mayoral candidates: Slow down

Maybe it’s a little naïve, but we’d like to think there might have been a time when political leaders focused on governing most years, and on elections in election years. This year we’re already off to a divisive presidential race that appears likely to get nastier as we move closer to November. It is our faint hope that the candidates for mayor, who after all will be running over a year and a half from now, do their best to tone down the political backbiting in 2004.

The three most powerful men in city government, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and City Comptroller William Thompson, are likely candidates for mayor next year. It seemed like Bloomberg barely reached the halfway point in his four-year term two months ago before the rhetoric was stepped up in the three camps as well as in the campaigns of some of the other probable candidates.

They would all be well advised to understand that except for the city’s political operative class and perhaps a few thousand political junkies – admittedly present company included, most of the city isn’t watching the race.

No doubt even if the mayor, speaker and comptroller were political allies, there would and should be policy fights and differences. Each is a necessary check on the others’ power. But the city will be hurt if any one of them sees his role as doing everything to prevent governing victories for the other.

If a quixotic good-government appeal falls on deaf ears, perhaps the trio will consider one of the political lessons of this year’s Iowa caucus. When the two frontrunners, Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt, increased their attacks on each other, it cleared the way for John Kerry to win the first contest and the Democratic nomination.

Con Ed has more work to do on safety

The latest sidewalk-shocking incident in the East Village raises anew the fear that our streets are not safe. On March 9, two dogs being walked on First Ave. near St. Mark’s Pl. were zapped on a rain-soaked sidewalk, because, according to Con Edison, a frayed 1930s wire touched a conduit to a building underneath the sidewalk. The incident comes two months after the electrocution of East Villager Jodie Lane on E. 11th St. when she was walking her dogs and came in contact with a live Con Ed service box cover.

Following Lane’s death, Con Ed did an inspection of all 260,000 of its service boxes and manholes in New York City and Westchester. Over 100 “hot spots,” street surfaces and even lightpoles energized with current, were found, and the problems were said to have been corrected. While these inspections were only on external surfaces, Con Ed said even a visual inspection inside the service box at the First Ave. location wouldn’t have revealed the problem in the conduit.

Clearly the danger is far from resolved. We call on our councilmembers and state legislators to keep the pressure on Con Ed to insure the safety of its facilities. We strongly support a change in law to require more stringent inspection standards and reforms, which is a part of several recently introduced city and state bills. Con Ed can’t be let off the hook, or more shockings — and worse — will happen.

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