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Bloomberg tells Forest Hills he will run for second term

"I will run for re-election, make no mistake about it," Bloomberg said when asked by an audience member about his plans. "I think I will win handily, quite honestly."

Bloomberg stopped by the American Legion Hall on Metropolitan Avenue to speak with the Forest Hills Community Association, fulfilling a campaign pledge he made to revisit the neighborhood if he won.

This time around the mayor spoke of developments in the city and the borough since he took office in 2002, mentioning school reforms and tax increases, budget cuts and economic development.      

Turning to local issues, Bloomberg said he believed that changes to Queens Boulevard made by the city's Department of Transportation had made the thoroughfare safer.

"We have worked very hard to bring down deaths on Queens Boulevard," he said, adding that he still planned to adjust walk signals to give pedestrians more time to cross.

Responding to a question about the private bus lines in Queens that he is trying to convince the Metropolitan Transit Authority to buy, Bloomberg acknowledged that some of the buses are in poor shape but vowed he would not leave riders stranded.

"I will find a way to keep the bus lines going," he said, But Bloomberg also mentioned a flaw with the current system of using private lines.

"It's fair to say the owners of the bus lines don't make a lot of money and aren't thrilled to be in the business," he said.

Bloomberg also reassured the audience that the Queens Zoo would not be closed as part of his budget-cutting process.

Regarding topics affecting the whole city, the mayor said that while school reforms had proven successful thus far, much work remained.

"We have major problems in this school system, make no mistake about it," Bloomberg said. He cited overcrowding and violence as two of the major issues that must be faced.

"I've said if it takes a cop in every classroom, I'm going to do it," the mayor said.

Bloomberg also addressed the budget cuts he was forced to enact upon taking office and said he managed to trim expenses without reducing services. The mayor said the 311 hotline he introduced now handles 3,000 calls a day and that he was always ready to respond to the city's problems.

"My number's in the phone book, folks," he said. But the mayor asked not to be called at 3 a.m., drawing laughter from the crowd.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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