NEW YORK (TIP): City Comptroller Scott Stringer became the third potential 2017 mayoral challenger to criticize Mayor de Blasio’s handling of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, which has now infected 119 people. “This is a very, very serious health issue,” Stringer said in a radio interview. “The bottom line is the city didn’t scramble the planes fast enough.”
Stringer singled out the city Health Department, claiming it had taken a “laid-back attitude.” “Over the last 10 years [of] Legionnaires’ disease, more cases were found throughout the country and in New York City, and government didn’t go run toward the disease to eradicate it. We let the disease come to us and it settled in the South Bronx,” he said.
His barbs come two days after Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) teed off on de Blasio at an unrelated press conference called by Gov. Cuomo, who has marshaled what many view as a dueling response to the outbreak. Jeffries described the Health Department as being “caught off guard.” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., also considered a potential 2017 mayoral challenger, called on Cuomo last week to help the borough.
De Blasio dismissed Stringer’s comments as “absolutely inaccurate.” “This is the finest health department in the nation,” he said Wednesday at an unrelated press conference on education. “I think it’s been a very strong effort, and the best people to comment on it are those who have been in the middle of doing it or those who are experts in the field.”