New York City bill would put conditions on mayor's travels

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 14, 2011 4:53 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bill introduced in New York's City Council on Tuesday would require the mayor to give notice if he travels very far or very long outside the city.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire, regularly travels by personal plane to his home in Bermuda, and has been criticized for keeping details of his travels to himself.

The bill would require that the mayor of New York give advance notice to the city clerk for any travel of more than 250 miles away for more than 24 hours or travel outside the United States for any length of time.

The bill was introduced by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who said he was motivated by the city's slow response to a December blizzard that crippled the transportation system and left many neighborhoods snowbound for days.

Bloomberg was believed to be out of town when the storm hit, although he has refused to account for his whereabouts. Citing his privacy, he has been adamant about not revealing details of his travels throughout his tenure in City Hall.

"The snowstorm focused us on an issue that we hadn't been thinking about -- who is in control if the mayor can't be reached?" Vallone told Reuters.

Vallone said his bill does not target the mayor but aims at addressing a potential crisis scenario, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, when communications could fail.

"It's not about this mayor or about his private life. It's focused on the issue of who is in charge in the city," he said. The bill is likely to be discussed by the council in the autumn, he said.

Asked about the pending legislation on Monday, Bloomberg dismissed suggestions his travels left him out of touch.

"In this day and age, no matter what happens, the phones work any place in the world," he said. "There's never a day that goes by where I don't have a number of conversations with different city officials."

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)