Reporting Stan Brooks
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close 20 fire companies took an ugly turn on Monday. He wants to keep the list of closures a secret.
The City Council is now vowing legal action, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Angry firefighters and community leaders took to the steps of City Hall to protest Bloomberg’s plan to close 20 fire companies.
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“The mayor needs to come out and identify communities that he thinks don’t need their local fire houses because I’m pretty damn sure they know they do,” Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy said.
“For this administration to threaten to close 20 fire companies now as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a disgrace,” Cassidy added. ”All New Yorkers should pick up the phone, call the speaker of the City Council and say no to fire house closings.”
The problem is the mayor is refusing to identify the firehouses he wants to close, apparently to limit public outrage, and FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano stonewalled the City Council, admitting, believe it or not, that he has the list but they can’t have it.
“The deputy mayor has a list that, ah, that we will close,” Cassano said.
That set off fireworks with angry Council members charging they won’t blindly approve drastic cuts to emergency services.
“The people in the communities throughout the city, those 20 Council districts deserve to know where the fire companies are,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said.
“When response time goes up you’re talking about loss of property and loss of life,” Councilman James Vacca said last month.
The battle escalated, with council members saying they will take legal action — a Freedom of Information Request — to force the mayor to fork over the names of fire companies on death row.
“I’m directing my attorney on my staff to do a Freedom of Information Act request and have it hand delivered to the Bloomberg administration, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith for a copy of the list,” Councilman Dominic Recchia said.
“Shouldn’t we at this point just subpoena this information? I mean we’re here year after year doing that,” Councilman Daniel Halloran said.
A mayoral spokesman said that even though there is “list” — there is no “final” list.
It remains unclear if the mayor will give the Council the information or, as Councilman Halloran suggested, they will have to subpoena it.
The proposed closures would take effect July 1.