Will the NYC Marathon Be a Debacle? (Update: No, It’s Postponed)

Lindsay Beyerstein

Update: ABC is reporting that the marathon has been postponed. That was the right decision, for the reasons stated below. 

The New York City Marathon is on for Sunday, despite a growing public outcry. Civic leaders including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn are urging Mayor Bloomberg to cancel the event in order to focus scarce resources on restoring essential services to New Yorkers.

Residents of the Red Hook Houses are still without water or electricity. In public housing on Coney Island, residents are locking themselves in their darkened apartments because their buildings also lack security.

Home owners in outlying areas fear that their homes will be plundered because they don’t have plywood to board them up and grateful for extra police patrols. If even one officer is called away from protecting life and limb in order to service a sporting event, that’s wrong. The marathon is wonderful, but the needs of New York City residents should come first.

Marathon proponents say the event will bring an influx of cash and morale for our beleaguered city. I’m not so sure.

Is New York in any shape to host? Fifty thousand runners are expected. The city has been paralyzed all week, much of Manhattan is hoping to get power back by midnight, public transit is crippled, filling a gas tank is an all-afternoon project, and everyone’s cranky. How much work is left to be done? The race starts first thing on Sunday. This is shaping up to be a huge, embarrassing clusterfuck.

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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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