Now that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially launched his presidential campaign, let’s not forget that the man’s got groundhog blood on his hands.
February 2, 2014. All New Yorkers wanted to know was whether they were in for another frigid six weeks of winter. Instead, tragedy struck.
Enter Charles G. Hogg, or “Chuck.” Ever since 1981, Chuck’s been the Staten Island Zoo’s personal Punxsutawney Phil. And with an 80 percent accuracy rate, he’s done a pretty good job of telling New Yorkers whether they could look forward to an early spring or not. It’s become an annual tradition for city mayors to meet the hard-working groundhog on the day he checks for his shadow.
Though Chuck had been on the job for awhile, he first drew controversy in 2009 when he bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
To avoid another biting incident, Chuck was (secretly) switched out for his granddaughter, Charlotte, for de Blasio’s first groundhog ceremony in 2014. People wondered if “Chuck” would be more approving of the new mayor.
Little did they know that it would be the human who proved dangerous, not the ‘hog.
Perhaps sensing her impending doom, Charlotte scrambled to run back into her shelter before a zoo handler caught and handed her over to de Blasio.
Cheers turned to horrified screams as the squirming groundhog slipped out of the mayor’s heavily-gloved grasp and tumbled several feet to the ground.
Charlotte didn’t show any immediate signs of injury, and the ceremony proceeded as normal.
However, the groundhog died from internal injuries a week later.
Now here’s where the scandal really begins: The Staten Island Zoo kept her death under wraps until it was exposed by the New York Post on September 25, nearly eight months after Charlotte’s deadly fall. And that’s also when “Chuck” was revealed to be an imposter.
“Zoo in coverup after groundhog dropped by de Blasio dies” blared the New York Post.
The zoo’s spokesperson told the Guardian that de Blasio was not informed of the groundhog’s demise.
“There was no reason to do it,” he said. “It’s not like we were trying to spare the mayor’s feelings.”
De Blasio did attend the ceremony the following year — but zoo officials kept him at a safe distance of six feet this time.
With the ghost of Groundhog-gate behind him, de Blasio’s now chasing his White House dream. But if today’s press reactions are anything to go by, the mayor’s campaign might be as ill-fated as poor Charlotte.
Witness the massacre for yourself: