Who opposes the marathon? Not Quinn, yet
The New York City marathon, with its course touching each of the five boroughs, is meant to be a feel-good event, and a symbol of unity.
Today, the question of whether it's appopriate to proceed with it has become one of the most hotly debated issues facing a city that is facing real, non-discretionary problems and which is split between haves and have-nots by Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports having the marathon on Sunday, for the economic activity it generates and as a sign of the city's return to normalcy.
His closest ally in city government, City Council speaker and mayoral contender Christine Quinn, hasn't publicly taken a position on it yet. Neither have Governor Andrew Cuomo or the state's senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller John Liu, like mayoral candidates and frequent Bloomberg critics, sided with the mayor in calling for the race to proceed on schedule.
Yesterday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running for re-election, said at a press conference that she "personally" opposed having the marathon this Sunday. Her Republican opponent also opposes it.
When I emailed the marathon organizers this morning for comment, I received this message as part of their automated reply: "We are in full execution mode for the 2012 ING New York City Marathon."
The mayor is about to have a press conference.
UPDATE: The mayor seems to be holding his course, saying at the press conference that "we have to find some way to express ourselves" and show solidarity.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Quinn emailed the following statement: “The decision to move forward with the marathon is not a decision I would have made. That said, I think we need to look forward and continue to focus on the task at hand - helping those without electricity, food and water and rebuilding our city.”
UPDATE: Now de Blasio has changed his mind. "The pain and suffering still unfolding in our neighborhoods is too deep for words. I walked more streets with Councilman Oddo in Staten Island today, and listened to people who still remain without power, food and water – so near the race’s starting point. It's convinced me the needs are simply too great to divert any resources from the recovery. Lodgings reserved for marathoners must be re-allocated to utility workers. We need to postpone the Marathon and keep our focus where it belongs: on public safety and vital relief operations.”
UPDATE: Now, they've all bailed, except for Quinn. Here's Liu's statement: "Earlier this week, I stated support for keeping the New York City Marathon, which is a huge economic generator for the City, on schedule assuming that the City’s infrastructure would be able to support the race and New Yorkers’ safety can be ensured. Unfortunately, it has become apparent over the last couple of days that there are still large parts of the City where recovery efforts are falling short, where fellow New Yorkers remain hungry and cold, and where there is now more and more looting. As I have traveled throughout the boroughs since Sandy struck, it has become clear that the Marathon would compromise the City’s ability to protect and provide for the residents most affected by the hurricane. Recovery efforts must come before the Marathon and it's time to re-evaluate whether the resources needed for the Marathon can really be spared on Sunday."