The governor and the mayor ratcheted up their fight for superhero status in the battle to save NYCHA Thursday, with both sides dispatching minions to make it personal.
The battle escalated as Gov. Cuomo made his third visit to a public housing apartment in 10 days in his continuing campaign to put NYCHA’s management problems squarely in Mayor de Blasio’s corner.
The mayor, in turn, ridiculed the governor for what he sees as his sudden discovery of NYCHA and a remedy that is too little and too late.
By day’s end, de Blasio’s proxy was calling Cuomo a liar who’s obsessed with the mayor while a Cuomo soldier made fun of the mayor’s gym schedule. De Blasio, meanwhile, jetted to Florida for vacation.
Boiler failure leaves 3,000 Harlem NYCHA residents without heat
The pugilistic posturing began Wednesday when de Blasio took to the airwaves to razz Cuomo for his recent visits to NYCHA developments, stating, “The governor is getting his photo-op but not handing over the money.”
Early Thursday Cuomo responded by visiting the Forest Houses in the Bronx, where he promised he won’t sign the state budget unless it includes help for NYCHA tenants. The budget deadline is March 31.
“I blame all the politicians,” he said, without actually uttering the mayor’s name.
Last week Cuomo promised another $250 million for NYCHA, but insisted it must be managed by an independent contractor — not NYCHA managers.
De Blasio slams Cuomo for using NYCHA buildings as ‘photo op’
“I’m not giving (funding) to an incompetent bureaucracy,” he said after visiting yet another decrepit NYCHA unit.
Within an hour of Cuomo’s remarks Thursday, de Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie was calling the governor a liar in an email. “Instead of lying about the facts to feed his political obsession, the Governor should give NYCHA tenants the money he has promised and refuses to deliver,” she said.
“We understand the Governor’s obsession with the Mayor has prevented him from learning how NYCHA funding works, but the truth is NYCHA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fill the hole left by state and federal underinvestment.”
A few minutes later, Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa shot back via Twitter: “Between his grueling gym schedule and out of town political travel, perhaps the mayor should become a little more obsessed with the people who are suffering in NYCHA and do something to fix the failing agency he has 100% control of.”
De Blasio doesn’t buy Cuomo’s vow to pump $250M more into NYCHA
At an afternoon press conference, Speaker Corey Johnson even noted the un-bro-like behavior of de Blasio and Cuomo.
“I understand that the mayor and governor are not getting along well,” he deadpanned. “I’m trying to work with both of them on the merits.”
Both politicians have steered more funds to NYCHA, which currently needs $25 billion in upgrades and faces likely cuts from the Trump administration.
The state stopped aiding NYCHA in the late 1990s, but Cuomo began steering funds the agency’s way in 2015. To date he’s allocated a total of $550 million, though $200 million is on hold as state and city work out differences about how quickly the funded work can get done.
Cuomo vows to free up another $250M for NYCHA repairs
De Blasio, meanwhile, has forgiven annual city charges to NYCHA, put in $200 million for new boilers and promised $1 billion over 10 years for roof repairs.
Cuomo emerged from Thursday’s NYCHA apartment tour shaking his head in disbelief.
He toured the apartment of Carmen Silvia, 84, who suffered a stroke and can’t move the left side of her body. She’s stuck in her 11th floor unit with water damage and roaches.
“Here in New York, conditions deteriorated over a prolonged period of time,” Cuomo said. “It was a silent storm, but it was the drip drip drip of apathy, neglect and discrimination that has allowed this to happen. This is a failure of the political system.”
Cuomo hugged Silva’s son, Alberto Pitarro, 61, who said he’s worried about his mom’s living conditions.
“It is funny that it has to be a governor (that) comes over here to take care of the problems we have,” Pitarro said. “There are 400,000 (NYCHA tenants) that are suffering. My mom is just one out of all of them, with the walls, water damage, roaches, all the problems that she has. I can’t say how appreciative I am for you to be here.”
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