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Raining on the Mayor’s Parade

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The mayor reached deep in his 11th State of the City speech to bring a message of hope to a snow-covered city still reeling from the city’s failure following the December blizzard. He spoke of the billions the city will spend on capital projects in Queens, including the Hunters Point South housing development and the planned renovation of Willets Point.

These projects will create much-needed middle-income housing and hundreds of jobs. Of the industrial wasteland in Willets Point, he said, “Once the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Valley of Ashes, we’ll begin building roadways and waterlines that will give rise to whole new neighborhoods with good jobs and affordable housing.” The mayor was referring to the industrial dumping ground made famous in “The Great Gatsby.”

We wonder how many people understood the allusion. Nevertheless, the mayor gets points for trying to inspire hope. The mayor also renewed his promise to create a new category of livery cabs that can make on-street pickups in the outer boroughs.

Queens residents should welcome the new development and curbside pickup for livery cabs. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen quickly. Meanwhile, hundreds of jobs were lost last year when the city could not convince Hostess/Wonder Bread and the Sabra Dipping Co. not to keep their factories in Queens. In the coming years, the city Economic Development Corp. has to do better.

Among the critics of the mayor’s address, City Councilman Leroy Comrie called the speech “overly optimistic …. Such platitudes by the mayor are as meaningful as seeing a Broadway play during a blizzard.”

Councilman Dan Halloran said, “The outer boroughs need more than livery cabs. My district has one of the highest tax burdens in the city, but we don’t get the services to match.”

What did they expect to hear? For now, we do not see what harm can come from a little optimism. We hope the time is not coming when elected officials will feel compelled to deliver a counter address lest anyone gets their hopes up too high.

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