"I am concerned that approval of the bill would be premature in light of the city of New York's ongoing efforts to compensate affected homeowners," Pataki said in a statement.Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would cover all damages for the Feb. 16 rupture that flooded Ditmars Boulevard near 71st Street with a million gallons of water, flooding roughly 50 homes and forcing the evacuation of a dozen families. As of last week, residents had made 24 claims totaling $1.4 million with the city comptroller's office. The deadline is May 19. Pataki said offering state funds would be redundant. "Approval of this legislation in its current form would result in duplicative claim-processing requirements and create the potential for duplicative payments for the same damage," the governor said. "Nonetheless, I am committed to ensuring that Astoria residents receive the prompt and full compensation that they deserve. In the event that the compensation to be provided by the city is delayed or otherwise proves inadequate, I stand ready to work with the sponsors to revisit this important issue." Pataki's reasoning drew strong criticism from state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who introduced the bill. Gianaris said the governor's rejection came a day before President Bush approved emergency funds for upstate counties ravaged by floods during an April 2 storm. "That's the real hypocrisy here. To me this is an anti-New York City bias," Gianaris said. "He's doing everything he can to help those people (upstate), but when it comes to a couple dozen people in Queens he can't be bothered, which is really disturbing."Reach reporter Matt Monks at news@times
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