NEW YORK (AP) — His campaign facing long odds with Election Day just over a week away, New York City mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota went on the offensive again Monday, this time attacking opponent Bill de Blasio for his role in green-lighting Brooklyn's sprawling Atlantic Yards development.
Lhota, the Republican nominee, tried to the move to the left of the liberal de Blasio, saying the Democrat has not fulfilled promises made to create affordable housing as part of the massive $5 billion project, which includes the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets.
"Bill de Blasio has been all talk and no action when it comes to affordable housing," Lhota told reporters. "Bill de Blasio has been absolutely silent. He's been silent because he's been bought."
It was the latest in a string of attacks in recent weeks that Lhota has bombarded de Blasio with, including on such issues as public safety and charter schools. But Lhota has yet to make a dent in the Democrat's commanding lead in the polls.
Echoing a charge made in the Democratic primary, Lhota noted that Atlantic Yards developers have donated substantially to de Blasio's campaign and one of them co-chaired the candidate's birthday party two years ago.
De Blasio, now the public advocate, voted for the project in 2006 while a city councilman. He acknowledged Monday that the affordable housing meant to be built as part of Atlantic Yards, which will also include commercial and office space, has fallen behind schedule. But he defended his role in supporting the project, which drew opposition from many local community groups.
"From the beginning of the process around Atlantic Yards, I have fought for maximum community benefits," said de Blasio, who said he has held the "feet of the state and the developer to the fire" to push the housing though. "On my watch, it will happen."
Lhota, a one-time deputy mayor to Rudolph Giuliani and former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has also spoken in favor of the project.
For his part, De Blasio returned Monday to the site of one of the most important developments of his campaign, Long Island College Hospital. Toiling in the fourth place in the Democratic polls over the summer, the public advocate went to court — and was even arrested — trying to prevent the State University of New York from closing the Brooklyn hospital.
His fight won him some press coverage that was rare for him at the time, just before former front-runner Anthony Weiner's campaign collapsed amid a sexting scandal. Many of Weiner's supporters, some impressed by the hospital fight, then defected to de Blasio and helped propel him to the nomination.
De Blasio returned to the Cobble Hill hospital to announce that his office would go to court to prevent SUNY from laying off 500 hospital employees.
"This is closure by any other name," de Blasio said.
A judge has ordered the hospital to remain open, a decision SUNY is contesting. The university system says the hospital loses tens of millions of dollars a year.
Both Lhota and de Blasio will spend Tuesday marking the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy's landfall in New York. The storm, the worst natural disaster in the city's history, killed 44 people in the five boroughs.
The commemorations of the storm pushed back their final mayoral debate from Tuesday to Wednesday. The election is Nov. 5.