Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have inadvertently started an intra-state feud Wednesday when he took a swipe at the city of Buffalo.
Speaking at a conference at New York University sponsored by the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development earlier in the morning, Bloomberg praised his administration’s efforts to build affordable housing.
But, when comparing the challenges facing New York City to those facing Buffalo, he suggested that the upstate city has little going for it.
“Our city's problems are problems of success. We don't have enough classrooms. We don't have enough roads. We don't have enough housing,” said the mayor. “If you go to other cities, they don't have those problems. There's an awful lot of free space up in Buffalo, New York, if you want to go there. I don't think you do. Buffalo would love to have our problems.”
The remark drew some gasps from those in the audience.
Bloomberg aides say the mayor meant no offense, and that the comment was directed at housing developers.
In response, Mayor Byron Brown, a Queens native, said, "When I heard those comments, I was pissed. It was a cheap shot. And thinking about those comments, listening to them two hours later, I'm still pissed off."
The mayor’s remarks recall an episode involving former Mayor Ed Koch when he was running for governor back in 1982. Koch made fun up of residents upstate in a magazine interview, calling life in the suburbs "sterile" and went on to lose the Democratic primary.
Late in the day, Bloomberg aides say he patched things up by calling Brown in what was described as a pleasant conversation. However, a spokesman for Brown says he's still not happy about the remarks and is concerned about the potential impact on investment in Buffalo.