Bloomberg: The National Guard in Coney is a bad idea
By Eli Rosenberg
At odds…again: Borough President Markowitz wants the National Guard to protect evacuation zones from looters, but Mayor Bloomberg said he doesn’t want his city turned into a police state.
Mayor Bloomberg has snubbed Borough President Markowitz’s impassioned plea to bring the National Guard to Hurricane Sandy-scarred Brooklyn — arguing that approving the Beep’s request would be a waste of federal manpower and turn the borough into a police state.
“We don’t need it,” Mayor Bloomberg said on Wednesday during a press update on the city’s ongoing Hurricane Sandy cleanup. “The NYPD is the only people we want on the street with guns.”
Markowitz demanded the National Guard’s help just an hour before Bloomberg’s press conference, claiming that the NYPD and FDNY are “brave — but overwhelmed” by all the challenges Sandy brought when it visited the borough on Monday night: flooding, power outages, and looting.
“All of our resources have been stretched to the limit,” Markowitz said. “In the name of public safety we need to send more National Guard personnel into Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, and any other locations.”
Markowitz hopes that the sight of an armed soldier would deter criminal activity in the still-unaccessible evacuation zones — such as the rash of break-ins that took place in Coney Island hours after Sandy kissed the borough goodbye — but the Mayor said the NYPD was more than capable of handling the job.
“There are plenty of locations upstate and in surrounding states where they don’t have a police department the size of New York and they can use help [from the National Guard],” said Bloomberg.
Markowitz said he was surprised by the Mayor’s response, but was sticking to his guns.
“We stand by our statement 100 percent,” said Markowitz spokesman John Hill. “We hope the governor will listen to our request.”
The two politicians, who are both in their final terms, often appear together at borough events — but this is not the first time they’ve been at odds.
Markowitz slammed Bloomberg’s decision over a taxi manufacturer — and move Markowitz said would cost the borough an 800 job auto plant — in 2011, and the Mayor has vocally disagreed with Markowitz’s push for casino gambling in Coney Island.
Calls to Gov. Cuomo’s office for comment on Markowitz’s National Guard request were not returned by our midnight deadline.