They will finally come head to head on Sunday — or will they?
Of course, I’m talking about Mayor Bill de Blasio and Charles G. Hogg, better known as Staten Island Chuck. The mayor has not responded to requests from the Staten Island Zoo on whether he will attend its annual Groundhog Day event to pay his first official call on the weather-predicting rodent.
Maybe the mayor is a tad gun-shy. During a recent trip to Staten Island, he was mocked for eating pizza with a knife and fork. Last week’s criticism of de Blasio for not sending out snow plows in a timely fashion to clear the borough’s streets didn’t help his cause, either.
Or perhaps de Blasio is thinking of the rough history of his predecessor at the event. Five years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to lure Chuck out of his cozy little home to predict whether there would be six more weeks of winter.
Sick of being forced to perform this pointless task year after year, Chuck refused to exit his comfy abode. But no one defied Mayor Mike! Ignoring Chuck’s obvious wishes, Bloomberg stuck his arm into Chuck’s home and tried to drag him out. The little guy was kicking and screeching for all he’s worth (Chuck, not Bloomberg).
After struggling to escape Bloomberg’s clutches, Chuck turned and unceremoniously bit Bloomberg’s finger. Later in Bloomberg’s tenure, Chuck was shoved out of his home by a plunger-like device. “This is so much better than having to reach in and let that little son of a —— bite you,” Bloomberg cackled.
The fallout wasn’t surprising. The Staten Island Advance reported outraged comments, such as, “My dog also snarls at undesirables!” The relationship between Bloomberg and Chuck didn’t get much better. Bloomberg didn’t show up last year. Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was running for mayor, did the honors.
Perhaps de Blasio sees visiting New York’s hometown groundhog as a no-win situation. Maybe he’s afraid Chuck’s grudge against Bloomberg will carry over to him. Or maybe it’s just that the grumpy groundhog is scheduled to emerge promptly at 7 a.m. Sunday — way too early for our late-rising mayor.
He’d just better not say he’s staying home to watch a football game.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.