At a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management Headquarters in Brooklyn yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg sought to counter the public's perception that Sunday night's blizzard caught his administration flat-footed. Coming on the heels of Monday's testy presser, during which Hizzoner defensively shrugged off the storm's impact, yesterday's appearance was a study in contrast. In response to one question about New Yorkers' anger, the mayor chimed in, "I'm angry, too!" But is the all-important show of anger too little, too late? Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, slammed Bloomberg for not declaring a snow emergency on Saturday night. And the City Council will be holding hearings on the blizzard response. That's right, hearings. IS THIS BLOOMBERG'S KATRINA?
Bloomberg dismissed the criticisms over not calling a snow emergency, telling reporters, "The snow emergency would require everybody on the main streets to move their car, and the question is, to where? All it would have done was put an awful lot more cars stuck in the middle of roads, which would have made plowing even more difficult." But as the Times points out, a snow emergency called Saturday night would have given motorists time to move their cars before the blizzard. Instead, the streets remain clogged with stranded cars TO THIS DAY, and tow trucks are getting stuck in the snow as they attempt to remove them. This in turn hinders plowing, and yesterday this Gordian Knot left more than 200 ambulances still stuck in the snow.
There has also been a shortage of tow trucks, but yesterday Bloomberg announced that the city had "offered a bounty for those private companies that have tow trucks, we’ve got tow trucks from a number of different agencies that have all contributed... We just hired another 8 tow trucks to help us dig out South Brooklyn." That's right, eight whole tow trucks. Here comes the cavalry! And although the Sanitation Department has the fewest number of employees in over a decade, both the mayor and sanitation commissioner John J. Doherty maintained that the cutbacks have not affected the plowing efforts. Nevertheless, the department will not meet its usual goal of plowing all city streets within 36 hours after a storm ends.
But Doherty also told NY1 that budget cuts had left snowplow drivers without adequate training. "They only went to school for two weeks, they usually would go for a month,” Doherty said. "I put them out there on Sunday I said ‘You’re out on the street. They said: ‘We’ve only had a couple days of driving.’ ‘I want you in the truck with a seasoned guy, You’re going to learn on the job, real time, real conditions, get the job done.' "
Meanwhile, the City Council is piling on the hyperbole. City Councilman David Greenfield said every side street in Borough Park remained unplowed, and that experience has been replicated city-wide (except for Manhattan, where the important people live). "This mayor prides himself on saying the buck stops with him, and it should. We hold him responsible for what we're calling the Bloomberg Blizzard," Greenfield told the Daily News. "The whole world is laughing that the greatest city in the world cannot manage to clear the streets. New York today looks like a Third World country." Ooh, does that mean we can qualify for debt-relief?