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Bloomberg visits Juniper Park Civic meet

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The mayor’s visit came only two days...

By Dustin Brown

Fulfilling a promise he had made only days before his election, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped by last Thursday’s Juniper Park Civic Association meeting bearing a new promise: to reform the city’s troubled schools.

The mayor’s visit came only two days after he had legally won control over the school system, a victory he wore proudly but earnestly on his sleeve.

“I want to be measured on making the schools better,” he said after darting into the meeting shortly after it began. “That’s my No. 1 priority.”

Bloomberg is hardly a stranger to the civic, having last appeared at Our Lady of Hope gymnasium in late October, when he assured the crowd he would return if elected mayor as he rallied support in the final days of his campaign. At that time he had been trailing behind Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Green, a deficit Bloomberg gradually tore away until he finally edged ahead on Election Day.

Queens voters were integral to his win, having given 50,000 more votes to Bloomberg than to Green — a margin which proved decisive in a citywide race he won by only 40,000.

“I just want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to try to make a difference,” Bloomberg told the packed gymnasium, a standing-room only crowd of about 300 people. “I really do think the best days of New York are yet to come.”

Bloomberg touted his commitment to improving public education as the centerpiece of his mayoralty, comparing his vision for the schools with the legacy his predecessor Rudy Giuliani left on the city’s crime rate, which dropped precipitously during his eight-year tenure.

The mayor said the school system has failed its students by allowing many to leave without having learned to read.

“They just will never participate in the great American dream. We owe our kids more,” he said. “We’ve run out of excuses and now we’ve got to deliver, and we are gonna do that.”

The meeting also featured a homeland security forum organized by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), in which experts from the city Office of Emergency Management, Elmhurst Hospital, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the New York Police Department debriefed a dwindling crowd about the city’s preparedness to withstand additional terrorist assaults.

Chief Edward Cannon, the executive officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, said the police resources that were immediately deployed to secure the city after Sept. 11 were eventually scaled back to prevent the NYPD from diminishing its response to crime.

“We had to get back to crime patrol, because the criminals are not patriotic,” he said.

His comments had a particular resonance in the 104th Precinct, where Juniper Civic leaders have protested a shortage of officers and their deployment to Shea Stadium during Mets games.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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