2008-11-12 / Political Page

Obama Lauded On Victory, But Gets Pleas For City Aid


President-elect Obama. President-elect Obama. Democrats throughout the city hailed President-elect Barack Obama for his election victory in New York and the entire nation last Tuesday, but over the weekend were besieging him with calls to bail New York City out of its present fiscal crisis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the list of officials congratulating Obama on his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain, calling it "a historic day for America and a great day because I think it shows how far our country has come".

Leading the pleas to Obama for aid to the city were United States Senator Charles Schumer, Governor David Paterson and City Councilmember John Liu, who called for a bailout of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The mayor also added his voice to calls for more funding.

In his congratulatory statement to the president-elect, Bloomberg stated the election victory was built on "those who struggled and died for civil rights over the past two centuries" and on the hard work of Obama's millions of supporters, "including one that we miss very much here, Terence Tolbert". Tolbert died of a heart attack heading Obama's campaign operations in Nevada while on leave from his job with the Bloomberg administration. Obama carried Nevada.

"Senator Obama ran on the idea of uplifting this country and moving us forward, and all of us have a responsibility now that the election is over, to help him do that because we face some very difficult times ahead," Bloomberg said in a statement." But I think you are going to see this country pull together- both major parties and all of those in the middle. Democracy has worked, we've spoken, we've picked a new leader, and we should all do everything we can to help him tackle the difficult problems that face us all. I think during the campaign both Senator Obama and Senator McCain tried to address those issues; it is very difficult to do where you only have a few seconds in a press conference or a meeting or have to do it in a stump speech.

"Now Senator Obama has to do the hard work of making difficult decisions and leading our Congress and being the head of mainly the only superpower left in this world, and we have an obligation to help people. And I think he's more than up to the task, and I think we're going to be very pleased. But he cannot do it alone and it's incumbent on all of us to help him."

Also congratulating Obama were City Councilmembers Hiram Monserrate (D- Corona), who was elected to the state Senate last Tuesday, and Leroy Comrie (D- Jamaica).

Monserrate stated that with Obama's election, "Our nation was experiencing a unique moment of hope and opportunity, even in the face of challenge."

Monserrate, who became the first Hispanic from Queens elected to the state senate, continued, "The people have spoken, calling for a progressive democratic leadership and it is now time to return to our core values and take the bold steps necessary to solve the systemic problems of the status quo in Albany."

Among those "bold steps" was aiding New York City and its Latino and other emerging immigrant communities.

Comrie stated that the Obama- Biden victory in the next four years would "guide this nation out of the economic morass that [the] Bush [Administration] is leaving us".

Comrie said that on the issues of education, health care, seniors, veterans, energy,

families and the economy, "You will find that the Obama-

Biden plan for America's future will be the blueprint for change."

Meanwhile, though also applauding the Obama- Biden victory, New York pols, labor leaders and others called on the president elect to rescue New York from its economic doldrums.

Schumer, who emerged as a more powerful Senate leader because of the Democratic Party's gains in both houses of Congress in Washington, called for the president-elect to expand funding in New York for infrastructure improvements to create jobs "from Broadway to Babylon (L.I.) to Buffalo". More funding is also needed for homeland security, housing, additional police hirings and health care, Schumer said.

Liu (D- Flushing), chair of the council Transportation Committee, called for an MTA bailout, saying it would be "a small, small fraction of the $700 billion bailout of banks, or anything he may be thinking of for General Motors".

Amid all these pleas to help New York, Mayor Bloomberg was outlining the fiscal crisis facing the city—a $4 billion budget gap in the next 19 months, which may require laying off 500 city workers and cancellation of a Police Academy class and rescinding of the 7 percent real estate tax cut and the $400 property tax rebate.

An aide to the mayor said the mayor would continue to press for aid in talks with the city's congressional representatives and the new Obama administration.


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