City Hall has moved to Brooklyn for two weeks — and Mayor Bloomberg’s staffers say they are already thinking better than ever!
A renovation of the city’s seat of power that forced Hizzoner and 85 staffers to Downtown Brooklyn for a fortnight at the Office of Emergency Management building on Cadman Plaza East has been “kind of a godsend” in the words of one Bloomberg staffer. The city worker — speaking anonymously from an otherwise empty bench in Cadman Plaza Park across the street from his temporary office — described his experience working in the OEM building a stone’s throw from trendy DUMBO as a welcome relief from the Gucci Gulch of lower Manhattan.
“I think we all kind of like being in a quieter place with fewer people running around in suits,” he said. “It helps me think.”
And he isn’t the only one feeling that way.
Bloomberg’s press secretary, Stu Loeser, described Brooklyn as an idyllic village away from the “hustle and bustle” of City Hall.
“We enjoy the same things that generations of Brooklynites enjoy: less crowds and more space,” said Loeser, whose name is pronounced “low-ser,” not “loser,” despite the fact that he lives in Manhattan.
“It’s a little easier to hear yourself think.”
Loeser said the mayor was enjoying the escape from Manhattan, particularly because he had been able to find a place to eat that reminded him of, well, Manhattan.
“We stopped for breakfast at the Park Plaza diner across the street from the office. It was pretty good, a little like a diner he likes to go to near his house [on the Upper East Side.]”
Overall, the borough appeared to agree with the mayor.
“Brooklyn is in the house,” he announced at his first borough-based press conference on Monday, prompted by Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Prospect Heights).
Local dignitaries were on hand to greet him, doling out the requisite Junior’s cheesecake and a “Fuhgetaboutit” T-shirt, but Bloomberg took a little dig at Borough President Markowitz, who often refers to Brooklyn as its own city.
“I have to tell you,” he told the inimitable borough booster, “Brooklyn is not a separate city and it never going to be a separate city.”
As comfortable as Bloomberg felt in his new surroundings, the NYPD was taking extra precautions, installing border-style security gates and guards to both ends of Cadman Plaza East, also home to Brooklyn Federal Court.
The street — long blocked off with two black Town Cars parked at the Tillary Street and Red Cross Place ends of the block — gained new guards, gates, bollards and terrorist-deterring potted urns in honor of the mayor’s presence.
Police say the security will remain in place only until Bloomberg returns to his usual bullpen next Friday, July 20.
Cops said there were no security incidents in the first four days of the mayor’s Brooklyn stay, but that doesn’t mean everything was smooth sailing.
“The only problem we have is there is nowhere to get lunch,” said one officer who was relocated to the OEM building from City Hall.
The officer said that he and others had started bringing sandwiches.
On the subject of lunch breaks, Markowitz suggested to the mayor that he and his transplanted workforce take a stroll along the Promenade on the Brooklyn Heights waterfront.
“There’s nothing better for providing a chance to reflect, and relieving some of the pressure of the job,” he said, adding that a drink at River Café (after working hours, of course) is another “fabulous” option.
Markowitz said he would be “thrilled” to take the mayor out for lunch at whatever Brooklyn establishment the health-conscious mayor wanted to check out.
“It’s impossible [for me] to choose among all my children,” he said.
And judging from the mayor’s seemingly light schedule during his first four days in Brooklyn, the two leaders had plenty of time for a lunch date.
Monday was a busy day. The mayor was supposed to take the A train from Manhattan to the High Street station, where he would be met by Markowitz. But a police shooting hours earlier scotched that plan, sending the mayor to Kings County Hospital to visit the wounded officers.
At 7:30, Bloomberg finally christened his Brooklyn City Hall with breakfast at the Park Plaza Restaurant on Cadman Plaza West followed by that ultimate New York mayoral event, a press conference about garbage.
Tuesday was a bit slower, with only one press conference in the OEM briefing room about a new contract deal with NYPD sergeants.
The mayor scheduled no public events for Wednesday or Thursday.
In DUMBO, just a short downhill walk from the temporary City Hall, the impact of Bloomberg’s stay was minimal.
“I haven’t noticed any more button-up guys than usual around here,” said Matthew Blair, an artist who works at a gallery on Front Street.
Blair said that he hoped to run into Bloomberg.
“I’m sure I have a lot of beefs to cook up with him,” he said. “But if I actually saw the mayor, I would just be happy and say hello.”