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Bill de Blasio betrayed his believers in Cobble Hill
During last year's mayoral race, candidate Bill de Blasio was arrested in June as he protested the proposed closing of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill.
Was it naive to think that his gesture signaled that he -- as mayor -- would stand up for New Yorkers who want full-service health care in their neighborhoods? Or to think he would stand up against the luxury-real estate interests?
That remains to be seen. But the protester was elected mayor, and in February he held a news conference patting the back of his own administration for saving the hospital. Even as the hospital closed recently, de Blasio declared victory because the State University of New York, which owns LICH, seemed close to a deal that would keep some health care on site.
But that deal has now fallen apart, and Blasio did nothing as SUNY slammed the brakes on negotiations with the two top bidders for the site.
Many in the community who've fought to save the hospital fear SUNY will simply cash in -- selling the property to a luxury condo developer and leaving the neighborhood without full-service medical care.
Much of its staff has been dismissed and only the emergency clinic is open, so LICH joins other hospitals in the city that have closed in the last few years. They include Peninsula Hospital Center on the Rockaway Peninsula, St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village and North General Hospital in Harlem.
There are signs de Blasio is willing to fight for ordinary New Yorkers. Additional paid sick leave and universal pre-K are nothing to dismiss. But when the interests of ordinary New Yorkers conflict with those of the real estate industry, which donated heavily to de Blasio's campaign, is Mayor 99 Percent setting aside his protest placards? Many in Cobble Hill think so.
SUNY is in talks with another company, Fortis Property Group, which is proposing some health care at the site. Like many in the real estate industry, its president, Joel Kestenbaum, contributed to de Blasio's campaign.
Given the connections, we should keep an eye on whose interests are served if a deal is reached. As for the mayor, he should fight hard for the interests of communities like Cobble Hill throughout the city.