At the moment, NYC is getting a lot of press regarding clean-up efforts after Superstorm Sandy. [This does not imply that New Jersey does not deserve more coverage or more assistance.] Today’s hot topic is the New York City Marathon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that the race will go on as planned, stating that city residents would want the boost to the local economy and the national media attention. Possibly true, but at what price?
The race traditionally starts in Staten Island, at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge. Monstrous storm surge inundated Staten Island only a few days ago, and the island is a muddy, crippled mess. There’s hardly any power. There are few relief supplies, and yet Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners (race organizer) will allow some 44,000 runners to further trample the island and the rest of the storm-battered city. Is it the wrong decision? Even though NYRR will pay for the police officers, firefighters, and first responders on duty, it’s still wrong to divert those public servants away from serving the still-vulnerable community. The city’s first duty is to protect its citizens, not to subject them to further intrusion and harm. However, one cannot ignore the $340 million that last year’s marathon pumped into the local economy.
It’s a terrible conundrum. Frankly, I’m unsure of my own position. On the one hand, I want to see New York devote as many resources as it can to taking care of its own — including insuring the viability of Election Day next week. On the other hand, last year my dearest friend, MB Walker, showed me what dedication, preparation, and sacrifice is required to train for and complete the New York City Marathon. How could you deny someone the opportunity to participate in a race for which they have trained for years? In the end, Mayor Bloomberg made a Solomonic decision.
N.B. As of about 5:30 pm today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially canceled this year’s marathon. While I’m sad for the runners, I’m happy with the ultimate decision. NYC just cannot take one dime or one officer away from its neediest citizens right now.