From "Councilman Holden takes a walk through snowy Middle Village with Mayor De Blasio" – QNS.com
With a big snowstorm hitting Queens that prompted a state of emergency and school closures, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to pay a visit to Middle Village on March 21 to check on the snow removal conditions, and get to know Councilman Robert Holden.
Holden gave the mayor a brief tour of the town he grew up in as they walked along Metropolitan Avenue and made stops at local businesses while large, wet snowflakes fell around them.
When Holden spoke to QNS after returning to his office — now located on Dry Harbor Road — he said he enjoyed getting the chance to spend time with the mayor after the two struggled to schedule meetings in past weeks.
"The mayor thought it was a very nice little town," Holden said. "He got to meet me and I got to meet him, so it was good, and he was surprised that I have some progressive views."
Their first stop was at the Metro Diner for lunch, where de Blasio dined on a massive gyro plate and they began a long discussion about a wide range of issues. Holden said everything from Rikers Island and punitive segregation to the needs of District 30 and Holden's upbringing in the neighborhood were touched on.
Even on the topics where they don't see eye-to-eye, the two were able to have productive conversations and hear each other out, Holden said. For example, Holden has spoken out against the mayor's plan to close Rikers Island and he was finally able to explain his reasoning to de Blasio personally. The mayor still disagreed and presented his case in rebuttal, Holden said.
Holden also released a statement on March 19 in support of punitive segregation of 18- to 21-year-old inmates at Rikers after another corrections officer was assaulted by a 21-year-old inmate. De Blasio was responsible for barring punitive segregation in that age group, so the two explained their viewpoints to each other.
"We kind of disagreed, and he couldn't give me all the numbers, but he's going to get people who can answer my questions," Holden said.
They also stopped at Carlo's Pizza, where the mayor found room in his stomach for a grandma slice, and at the C-Town Supermarket, they talked to the owner about the need for more parking near his store, Holden said.
Holden also made sure to emphasize to de Blasio that Middle Village residents care deeply about preserving the one-family attached houses in the area. In making that point, he also told the mayor about the neighborhood's views on homeless shelters, adding, "You can see why we wouldn't want a large facility; it would stick out like a sore thumb."
De Blasio also got a chance to look at the latest copy of the Juniper Berry, which Holden found inside of Carlo's; the magazine is the official publication of the Juniper Park Civic Association. Holden formerly served as the association's president.
Holden described his former role as managing editor and art director of the magazine and flipped to his op-ed piece about his visit to Parkland, Florida, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Gun control is the area where the two legislators found the most common ground, Holden said.
Holden then turned to another op-ed in the magazine by Rick Hayes titled "The United States Constitution vs. Bill de Blasio," he said with a laugh. Holden said that de Blasio told his aides to get them some copies.