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Mayor Mike Bloomberg also praised the remonstrance recently (and the place of Queens in America’s history of religious liberty). When he invoked it, he was saying that the Muslim community center—then called Cordoba House, though better known by the misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque,” and now called Park51—should be allowed to be built anywhere zoning legally permitted, including near the World Trade Center site.
Halloran didn’t agree.
In a video made by “Stop Islamization for America,” you can see Halloran seated on a dais near Pamela Geller before speaking at an event called “The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks.” He’s introduced by Sally Regenhard as one of only two elected officials who haven’t disappointed her on this subject.
“Let me apologize on behalf of the cowards in politics, who choose to stand up for special interests instead of doing what is right,” Halloran begins his speech.
Being right, in this case, involved demonizing all Muslims for 9/11. Halloran then proceeds to align himself with his Irish, Roman Catholic, and cop roots, pandering in the crudest possible way to the audience’s fears.
“Would World War II veterans stand for a Shinto Temple to be built on the Arizona Memorial? Absolutely not,” Halloran says. “The greatest generation would not stand for something like that, and it has nothing to do with tolerance.”
Halloran briefly points out that he’s not a Christian and that he’s in a “very minority religion.” But he doesn’t say what that religion is. (He also didn’t happen to mention that he was that tiny religion’s local high priest. An oversight.)
Halloran says one other thing worth noting during the speech. He boasts that “I have the dubious distinction of having been slimed by The New York Times in a front-page article because I dared to point out that certain members of the uniformed Sanitation Service slowed down the snow response. That was me.”
And it’s something he might regret, once the grand jury weighs in.
Despite highlighting his family history of cops and firefighters, Halloran makes no bones about being anti-union. He bragged the night of the 9/11 speech that he had the courage to be pro-Walmart. (And what says “Remember the 3,000” more than having the political courage to say you’ll stand up for a corporation?)
But his biggest moment as a councilman—and what could still get him in serious trouble—was coming down on the sanitation workers during “Snowpocalypse.”
Until last December’s snowstorm, few outside the Voice, other local political blogs, and the country’s tiny number of heathens had even heard of Halloran. But the blizzard changed all that. The storm, the sixth worst according to snowfall level in the past 141 years, became a black eye for Mayor Bloomberg: Some 600 buses were stranded across the city, 911 calls increased by more than 50 percent that day, and many streets went uncleared for days.
Halloran raised eyebrows when, on December 30, the New York Post quoted him saying that he’d met with three Department of Sanitation workers and two Department of Transportation supervisors who “were told to make the [m]ayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”
They were serious charges. So far, they’ve turned out to be completely unverifiable, if not completely untrue.
The New York City Department of Investigation found nothing to back up Halloran’s claims. The report did find other faults with the city’s response: not declaring a snow emergency and faulty equipment, for example. Most damning was, as the Times reported, that “a few workers were photographed buying beer or coffee when they were supposed to be cleaning the streets. The investigators said those workers were doing so only while stuck with broken-down equipment, and not as part of a labor slowdown, but the workers caught drinking now face disciplinary charges.”
Still, that had nothing to do with Halloran’s claims that the DOT supervisors had come to him to say they were told to “sit and wait” and not work, and to “slow down” what they were doing to “send a message” to Bloomberg for his budget cuts.
But the supervisors, in interviews with the DOI, could not have offered more different accounts.
One of the supervisors told DOI he was called into Halloran’s office by a mutual friend, Gary Bonelli; both had volunteered on his campaign. Bonelli arranged the meeting after hearing the supervisor talk about slowdown rumors (he had merely heard and read about).
But when he met with Halloran—taking along another supervisor who was with him at the time—and told him he knew nothing firsthand, Halloran got “upset.” The second supervisor, who hadn’t known they’d be dropping in on a councilmember, thought Halloran was “trying to get information out of him” and was “annoyed” they didn’t have any. According to the second supervisor, Halloran said, “If you don’t want to talk, I will find a disgruntled worker who is ready to retire who is,” as they left.