By Phil DePaolo
Spring is in the air. So are FDNY Engine closings. Mayor Bloomberg announced the closing of 16 more Engine companies on Friday, May 1st in his budget proposal. This includes full closure of Engine 271, which is a little over two miles from Engine 209, closed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2003. Engine 271 is in the district of City Council Member Diana Reyna who is now facing a cruel fate that she could have helped prevent. In 2003, when the Mayor closed Engine Company 212, I was involved in lobbying members of the City Council. The goal was to convince the Council not to pass a budget that included Engine closings. One of my pleas to Council Members was that if you allow the Mayor to do this, he will do it again. In the end, Engine 212 was closed along with five other Engine companies, including Engine 209 in Council Member Reyna’s district. Reyna and fellow Council Member David Yassky both backed down and supported the Council speaker and the Mayor and voted to pass the budget.
I was informed by the late City Council Member James Davis, that the Council speaker, Gifford Miller, threatened to withhold discretionary funds (a.k.a. “political pork”) from any Council Member that did not pass the budget. Fast forward to 2009 and Reyna faces the loss of another Engine company in her district. I hate to see what the Mayor would do to her (a Democrat) if she had not crossed party lines and endorsed him for reelection in 2005, as well as recently help lead the charge for the Mayor and herself to run for a third term. Now that’s gratitude!
Speaking of Council Member Reyna, it seems the competition is not running from her incumbency. Longtime Community Board #1 district manager, Gerry Esposito, thought he was running for her open seat when he declared he was running for City Council. But despite Reyna’s decision to give herself the opportunity to run for a third term, Esposito has decided to stay in the race. Also, Maritza Davila, a Vito Lopez protégé, decided to join the fray. Many political insiders say this could be the race to watch. Stay tuned.
Happy spring, Still on Fire