New York Post
August 12, 2006

Mike wants proof 9/11 made 'em ill

Doesn't support benefits bill

By CARL CAMPANILE and DAVID SEIFMAN

      Mayor Bloomberg yesterday
  HEARTFELT WORDS: 'The burdens should not be just placed on the New York City taxpayers.' - Mayor Bloomberg yesterday
Photo: Dan Brinzac

Mayor Bloomberg took a hard line yesterday on paying line-of-duty death benefits for 9/11 responders who die years after their work at Ground Zero — insisting that a "connection" be established between their rescue work and their eventual deaths.

"People, I think, all agree we should help those who stood up there and helped, but you have to make sure there is a connection between what they did and what happened," he said on his WABC-AM radio show.

It was his first public comment opposing a controversial 9/11 death-benefits bill now awaiting Gov. Pataki's signature. Aides to the mayor previously urged Pataki to veto the bill, contending it would cost the city between $5 million and $10 million a year.

The measure calls for paying pension benefits worth three-quarters of a regular salary to the families of certain 9/11 responders after their deaths.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) scolded the mayor for opposing the death-benefits bill.

Silver sent a letter to Pataki stating that he was "extremely distressed" the mayor was leaning on the governor to veto the legislation.

"His call for you to veto the legislation is deeply troubling, and I urge you to consider those heroes and their families who would be devastated if you chose to deny them those rightful benefits," Silver wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News.

Pataki has said he is "inclined" to sign the bill. He has until Wednesday to act.

Many of the cops, firefighters and city workers who spent weeks and months at Ground Zero during the rescue and recovery stages have complained of health ailments they attribute to their 9/11 work.

The contested death-benefits bill was prompted by the death in January of James Zadroga, a retired city detective who had spent more than 450 hours at Ground Zero while with the NYPD. He later developed respiratory ailments and died at the age of 34, just 14 months after retiring on a special 9/11 disability pension.

The autopsy report on Zadroga's death found "with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident."

"Everyone wants to take a bow, but nobody wants to do anything," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.