‘Brooklyn’s story is America’s story’
Brooklyn rolled out an actual blue carpet — plus a marching band, gift bags and a host of officials — at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) scouting visit to New York City on Monday.
State Senator Charles Schumer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other city bigwigs kicked off the DNC’s two-day tour. Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing for the convention to be staged at Barclay’s in 2016.
Members of the site-selection committee were met by the colorful Brooklyn United Marching Band, while the illuminated sign of Barclays, street flags and bollards all proclaimed the same message: “NYC 2016 DNC.”
Sen. Schumer, chief cheerleader and master of ceremonies, pointed out that New York City is the safest big city in America and the most diverse; that no place represents the country like Brooklyn, and that there is plenty of hotel space just a short drive or subway ride away.
One concern has been the need for outer-borough (read Manhattan) lodging and transportation.
“There’s more hotel space close to the convention center than any other city. It’s a canard to say there are no hotels,” Schumer said. “I sat in traffic in L.A., I sat in buses in Chicago, I tried to find my way through traffic in Charlotte.
He added the clincher: “Hillary Clinton wants it in Brooklyn.”
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen also spoke to the issue of lodging outside of Brooklyn. She said that New York City is home to the “most extensive transportation network” in the U.S., and has more than 105,000 hotel rooms.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reinforced the message that the city was safe and secure, and said thousands of police officers and traffic cops were available. He, too, emphasized that getting to Barclays from Manhattan was a snap.
Pointing to the subway entrance just feet away, he said, “Transportation? There it is: 2, 3, 4, 5, LIRR.” He said officials had tested how long it took to drive to Barclays from Manhattan along dedicated travel lanes. “We got here in 14 minutes.”
Dedicated ferries may also be used to shuttle convention visitors, officials said.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito touted the progressivism and diversity of Brooklyn as a major draw for the “party of the middle class.”
“”New York has the right story to tell. That’s because Brooklyn’s story is America’s story,” she said. “Brooklyn is home to leaders in business, the arts, education. New Yorkers believe in equality, and we must all work together. These are the key values of the Democratic Party.”
Public Advocate Letitia James echoed the theme, saying, “Diversity is not a theoretical concept in Brooklyn. We live it every day.”
James said that Brooklyn is the home of the “national fight to empower workers,” and touted paid sick leave, unions and universal school lunch as part of the progressive bent of the city.
She said she hopes the convention will “spotlight the issue of income inequality, in a place where solutions have been found.”
James added, “Brooklyn is the hottest borough on the planet.”
Borough President Adams said that Brooklyn “looks like America, and America looks like the energy of the Democratic Party.”
Deputy Mayor Glen projected that the convention would return millions of dollars to the city’s coffers in the long term, and attract tens of thousands of additional visitors over time.
The DNC was fêted with a “Taste of Brooklyn” luncheon at Barclays, and received goodie bags containing iPads with a “DNC 2016 NYC” app, Brooklyn Nets jerseys and other NYC swag. They were scheduled to attend a dinner with Mayor de Blasio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan on Monday night. (De Blasio was hosting the U.S. Conference of Mayors at Gracie Mansion earlier on Monday.)
Afterwards, police officers stationed themselves along a route leading from Barclays to the waterfront, and Mayor de Blasio was spotted greeting the visitors at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Committee members took a New York Water Taxi ride past the Statue of Liberty as a fireboat streamed jets of red, white and blue water into the air.
Other speakers at the event included DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Fred Dixon, president & CEO, NYC&Co., City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Amy Dacey, DNC CEO, City Councilmember Laurie A. Cumbo and Bruce Ratner, executive chairman, Forest City Ratner Companies.