By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In the latest political kerfuffle in southern Brooklyn, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm took a swipe at his opponent, former Democratic councilman Domenic Recchia, over the slow pace of Superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts in the city.
In a statement following the City Council’s March 31 oversight hearing on the city’s response to Superstorm Sandy relief for displaced victims and the delays in the much-touted “Build it Back” program, Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) criticized both Recchia and former council speaker Christine Quinn, charging both with campaigning for higher office instead of doing their jobs during the Sandy relief efforts.
Recchia is challenging Grimm in what is turning out to be a bitter contest this November. Quinn ran for mayor, losing to Bill de Blasio in the Democratic primary last September.
Grimm didn’t mention Recchia by name, but in his statement, he referred to a former “finance chairman.” Recchia served as chairman of the council’s finance committee for several years before leaving the council at the end of 2013.
"I’m pleased that the City Council is finally taking the mayor’s office to task for the horrible mismanagement of citywide Sandy recovery. While I’ve been holding the mayor’s feet to the fire for months trying to get answers, it’s a relief to see other city leaders speaking out about ‘Build it Back’s’ inexcusable delay. Maybe if the City Council’s former speaker and finance chairman had been more interested in doing their actual jobs and called for formal inquiries instead of campaigning for their next jobs, we would’ve been in a better position to hold the Bloomberg administration accountable as early as last November,” Grimm said.
Grimm’s district, which covers the entire borough of Staten Island and several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012. Recchia's council district, which includes Coney Island, was also devastated by the hurricane.
Grimm said that despite repeated promises by the Bloomberg and then the de Blasio Administration to cut red tape and help victims rebuild their homes and businesses, “countless Sandy victims are still not back in their homes 17 months since the storm hit.”
Recchia didn’t take Grimm’s criticism lying down. Through a spokeswoman, he blasted the incumbent congressman.
"Maybe if Michael Grimm spent less time at Justin Timberlake concerts and more time attending Sandy recovery meetings in the district he would know that last year the New York City Council held over 25 different oversight and legislative hearings that dealt with the City's response to Superstorm Sandy and 48 preliminary and executive budget hearings each of which dealt extensively with the City's response to Superstorm Sandy and the fiscal capacity of the City to work with constituents in the storm's aftermath,” Recchia campaign spokeswoman Ashleigh Owens told the Brooklyn Eagle.
She was referring to a campaign fundraiser Grimm had at a Timberlake concert in Washington D.C. in February. The New York Daily News reported on Feb. 26 that Grimm missed a Sandy relief meeting at Staten Island’s borough hall because he was at the concert.
Recchia was not only well aware of the Sandy relief delays, he was working in his capacity as Finance Committee chairman to do something about it, according to Owens. “In fact, Domenic chaired well over 50 of those hearings," she said.