Today’s news:

Halloran accuses mayor of using firehouse closings to target him

When it comes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, everyone from Democrats to Republicans agree on one thing following his $70 billion budget proposal, according to City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

“He sucks as a mayor,” Halloran said during a town hall meeting about Bloomberg’s budget last week at PS 203 in Oakland Gardens. “To get all of us to agree, that is a big deal because we don’t agree on anything. The mayor has united all of us at being ticked off at him.”

Halloran contended Bloomberg’s plan to close 20 firehouses was personal because out of the 20, one was in his district — Engine Co. 306 in Bayside — and two others were where his brothers work.

“That’s a pretty big coincidence in a city of 9 million,” the councilman said, noting he believed Bloomberg chose those firehouses because Halloran was going to subpoena which firehouses he planned on shuttering.

But a Bloomberg spokesman said the 20 firehouses are a draft list that came from the FDNY, not the mayor, and that the decision to close the 20 has nothing to do with Halloran.

“The list is based on usage rates and response times and the data is clear as day for why they were chosen,” the spokesman said.

Halloran said the mayor was using his proposal to close the firehouses and lay off some 6,000 teachers as a distraction from discussing other parts of the budget.

“He did this very strategically,” Halloran said. “He’s got us distracted with these two issues.”

Halloran said other cuts, including proposed slashes in CUNY and SUNY funding and spending reductions to after-school programs and libraries, also hurt residents but they are not being talked about.

“It’s a cascading effect,” he said. “Where are these kids going to go if you’re cutting after-school programs and you’re cutting libraries?”

The councilman said the proposed cuts to teachers and firehouses were a tiny slice of the budget — about $455 million in a $70 billion budget.

Halloran said to applause that “$70 billion worth of misplaced priorities is what this budget is.”

The councilman urged attendees of the meeting to write and call the mayor and support their elected officials in the budget fight, noting that both Democratic and Republican councilmen were united.

“He did this knowing that we can’t possibly let this happen,” Halloran said of the cuts. “It’s all about distraction. We need you guys to be the thumb on top of it all.”

Halloran said there should be baseline funding for education and public safety, which he said would have prevented Bloomberg’s proposals.

The councilman claimed the mayor’s plan was put in place “so he can use it as a lever in budget negotiations.”

Mary Vaccaro, the United Federation of Teachers representative for District 26, said all of Queens’ representatives on the Council support having no teachers laid off.

“Right now, it’s a very scary time,” she said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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