Mayoral fireworks: McGuire first to make illegal pyrotechnics a campaign issue

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Former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire is the first candidate in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary field to announce a plan to combat illegal fireworks on city streets ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

“Last summer saw an uptick in firework use, and the city failed to take meaningful action. We need to crack down on the root of the problem — those who transport and sell illegal fireworks in the five boroughs,” McGuire said.

McGuire’s plan resembles Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approach last year following a 4,000 percent surge in firecracker complaints during the first two weeks of June.

The city sheriff focused on interdicting shipments of fireworks coming into New York from neighboring states like Pennsylvania.

McGuire would “deploy teams of investigators to nearby states in which fireworks are legal, to identify retailers and large scale buyers responsible for the import of illegal fireworks to New York City.

“In addition, McGuire will add resources, transparency and accountability to the city’s fireworks task force – an interagency effort launched by Mayor de Blasio last year, which has not publicly reported any impact or demonstrated effectiveness,” according to a statement released by his campaign Friday.

De Blasio’s task force did publicly report results — sheriff’s deputies netted two shipping containers worth of pyrotechnics and nabbed 127 people for smuggling firecrackers between mid-June and July last year.

“He will also offer rewards for tips that result in successful operational outcomes in illegal firework busts,” according to McGuire’s plan.

Unlike de Blasio, who refused to crack down on people setting off fireworks in the streets, McGuire would use existing NYPD gunshot detection technology known as “shot spotter” to locate problem areas.

Between April 1 and May 27 this year the city’s 311 system received 1,098 complaints for illegal fireworks compared to just 130 complaints last year. But officials said the data is inaccurate as last year’s information was severely undercounted because 311 was overwhelmed with calls related to the coronavirus pandemic. Data from 2019 wasn’t immediately available.

During the first two weeks of June 2020 there were 849 fireworks grievances compared to just 21 during the same period last year.

A spokesman for Borough President Eric Adams did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the leading candidate’s plans for combating fireworks.

Last July, a Brooklyn woman named Shatavia Walls was blasted eight times in an East New York public housing complex after listening to Adams’ advice to confront neighbors who set off fireworks instead of calling the police.

Like McGuire, onetime presidential candidate Andrew Yang would also expand de Blasio’s task force to identify and stop out-of-state suppliers. And like de Blasio, Yang wouldn’t involve police, but would partner with clergy and community members to take firecrackers away from local pyromaniacs.

A rep for another mayoral wannabe, civil rights contender Maya Wiley, didn’t have any plans to offer except to point to Adams’ deadly advice from last year and say, “Definitely not this.”

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who recently moved to the top tier of the primary pack, is working on her policy.

“A complete and comprehensive plan to crack down on the city’s worst offenders of noise pollution (including illegal fireworks) is in the works – stay tuned!” her spokeswoman told The Post.

Reps for the remaining candidates — former Obama housing secretary Shaun Donovan, city comptroller Scott Stringer and nonprofit leader Dianne Morales — did not return messages seeking comment.

Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy

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