By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO August 2, 2005 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a tour of the Catskills on Sunday in an effort to reach out to the large New York City summer community here.
Currently in the midst of a re-election campaign, Bloomberg kicked off his first official visit to Sullivan County with a stop at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello. He shook hands and talked to many of the guests before he visited Camp Morris, a Hasidic establishment in Woodridge, then downtown Woodbourne, and finally to Camp Bnos, an orthodox girls camp on Old Loomis Road in Liberty.
Bloomberg was mobbed by summer residents during his tours at Camp Morris and Woodbourne. He was generally treated warmly by the crowds. Sometimes he received cheers, clapping, and shouts of four more years.
The mayor stuck to a consistent message at each visit. His administration has cut crime, the economy has improved, jobs have increased, the schools are improving, and more affordable housing is being built, he said. The city even has a higher life expectancy than the national average, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg said he decided to visit the Catskills as a way to reach everybody in all of the boroughs. This is a good chance to say hello to a community which has contributed a lot to New York City and traditionally vacations here. It gives people the respect and recognition they deserve. . . . It is a beautiful part of the state, he said.
At Kutshers, Milton Parker, the owner of the famous Carnegie Deli in Manhattan and the self-described Chief Pastrami Maven, said he was thankful for the reduction in crime.
My business is up 12 percent because of him, said Parker.
Im in the delicatessen business. Hes made it safer, tourism is better. My business depends on tourism. . . . The only drawback is the rents. Its impossible to live in Manhattan. Its supply and demand. There is a shortage of apartments. The mom and pop stores are out of business. They triple and quadruple the rents, he said.
Bloomberg addressed that issue by stating that he will try to continue to build affordable housing. He also considered the soaring rents a product of the citys booming times.
The success of the city is causing more people to want to live here, Bloomberg explained. Affordable housing is a big concern. It is a challenging problem. We are working hard at it.
Mike Schiff, a former New York State Trooper who is running for Sullivan County Sheriff on the Republican and Conservative ticket, was on hand to greet Bloomberg.
He is an interesting man. He is self made. He took the time to come up here and speak with us. I am impressed by any politician who can run as a Republican in New York City.
Schiff said that he respected the self-made billionaire for giving back to the community. He also admired his leadership style.
He has made the hard decisions, and people respect his strength.
The leaders of the religious community requested more special education funding. Bloomberg recognized the need for special education, but asked, Who is going to pay for it?
Some residents expressed concerns about an increase in quality of life violations for recycling and sanitary pick-up. In general, however, they appeared generally pleased with his performance.
Bloomberg will face the winner of the Democratic primary. Currently, those running for the Democratic nomination include United States Congressman Anthony Weiner (Brooklyn), former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.