New York City's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, stepped out of a helicopter midday Thursday in St. Camillus' parking lot, ironically an Occupy Sandy relief distribution hub in the Rockaways, Queens. The visit had been kept under wraps and not listed on his official schedule.
Bloomberg and a small party accompanying him were whisked off in black cars. He missed a greeting from community members in an area still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, with quickly-lettered signs: "Rockaways in Health Crisis," "We Need Safer Housing."
Bloomberg made his way to the still-shuttered offices of The Wave, the Rockaways weekly newspaper. As word spread about the stealth visit, a crowd gathered outside hoping to explain those signs to the mayor: a month after Sandy hit, swamping homes with seawater, many residents -- homeowners and tenants -- are still living without electricity, without heat, without working appliances, with black mold taking hold of walls and other surfaces. Temporary housing is desperately needed, absentee landlords must fix their properties.
The mayor emerged behind a row of police, thanked the group, and was quickly driven away -- avoiding a repeat of his November 4th visit when residents lambasted him for ignoring them.