Mayor Michael Bloomberg today joined the growing list of people urging Congress to pass legislation allowing more benefits to first responders on 9/11.
“It ‘s a vote on whether we should stand by those who stood by America in its hour of greatest need. It’s a vote on whether we should fulfill our obligations to the men and women in uniforms and hard hats whom we rightly call heroes,” he said.
Bloomberg’s comments mask the reality behind the politics of this bill. Even if Congress should pass legislation, good luck to some 9/11 workers trying to get help from it. It seems it’s always been that way with 9/11. An apparent end of a battle, is actually only the beginning of another.
The bill is named after a New York police officer who is believed to be the first to die post 9/11 of complications from working amid the debris of the World Trade Center. Shortly after James Zadroga’s death, Mayor Bloomberg didn’t support the conclusion that Zadroga died as a result of his work after 9/11.
“We wanted to have a hero, and there are plenty of heroes, it’s just in this case, science says this was not a hero” he said in 2007, later backing away from the remarks.
It got ugly in a typical New York City kind of way. The same medical examiner who publicly proclaimed Zadroga a 9/11 victim, reportedly privately blamed Zadroga’s misuse of prescription drugs for his death.
Getting help, even when it’s approved, can be an agonizingly long process.
It was only last month, for example, that the city reached a settlement to pay millions of dollars to ground zero workers, who said they were not properly outfitted for search-and-rescue efforts following the attack.
Nothing has come easy for the first responders of 9/11.