Corey Johnson — one of the most charismatic, promising young political leaders — has abandoned the people who elected him.
Just over a year ago, Hell’s Kitchen was at the center of the global COVID crisis — a neighborhood enclosed by the Javits Center (being used as a field hospital), the USNS Comfort docked at Pier 90, Broadway (shuttered), Times Square (empty) and Hudson Yards (mothballed).
Residents felt that with Corey Johnson as their elected official (and as Speaker of the City Council — the second most powerful official in NYC) they would be looked after. They were to be disappointed.
In the first few months of COVID, Corey continued the work he has been respected for — but then he went missing. It was later explained that Johnson had suffered with depression and as a result had decided to withdraw from the race for Mayor of New York (for which he was tipped as front runner).
The neighborhood offered empathy, sympathy, well wishes and goodwill to Corey. Meanwhile, Hell’s Kitchen (which in all 5 boroughs is #3 in social housing) found that it had more than its fair share of hotels converted to homeless shelters. The area wanted to be supportive, but it was a recipe for disaster — in one example, 850 men moved to one city block with limited services.
Hell’s Kitchen has seen a net 7,000 residents move out of the area, it has witnessed more than 50 businesses close — and it has suffered crime on a scale that has made headlines around the world. Yesterday, an Asian man was punched, bit and told to “go back to China” in the third high-profile attack in Hell’s Kitchen in less than two months.
We believe the last time Corey — Hell’s Kitchen’s elected council official, remember — visited the area was last August.
Since his reported low, Corey has begun studying at Columbia University (he refused to take questions at the last Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting he attended because he was late for his freshman orientation), and has thrown his hat into the ring to become New York City Comptroller.
We believe that Corey Johnson needs to get back to the work that he was elected to do (and is paid to do). He’s a politician who had an amazing reputation going into the pandemic — but he has failed his constituents during it.
We ask that by the end of the month he makes a commitment to visit Hell’s Kitchen at least three times a week, suspends his studies at Columbia and withdraws from the race to become New York City Comptroller — until he has got on top of his current job.
If not, W42ST will work with the community to petition for his removal as the representative of this area. The issues in Hell’s Kitchen will not wait until a new council member is in place in 2022. Corey Johnson is the person who can take on the issues his neighborhood has and make a change in the handling of mental health, homelessness and crime.
Phil O’Brien, Publisher. W42ST.nyc