Mayor Bloomberg has been leading the city for over five years, but the way he handles dealing with the public during crises - no matter how big or how small - remains curious. As some people think he should have stayed in NYC after Wednesday's brutal Bronx fire - and not gone to Miami, some people ascribe his cool "delegate issues to underlings" and "move onto the next thing" attitude to his business management experience.
In mid-January, Bloomberg had his highest approval ratings ever (a far cry from a 32% approval back in 2003). However, he still could stand to work on how he reaches out to the public after incidents. Here are a couple notable examples of where it seems like the Mayor should have thought before speaking:
- After a bicyclist riding on the Hudson River Greenway was killed by a drunk driver who mistakenly was driving on the bike path, the Mayor said bicyclists should "pay attention... Even if they're in the right, they are the lightweights."
- When the icy Valentine's Day snow made it hard for people to move their cars, yet the Mayor still enforced alternate side of the street parking rules, he said, "This was not a lot of snow. It was easy to move your car. I don't like to get up early in the morning and have to do anything either. I'd like to sleep in, too. But it was the right thing to do." And the next day, he decided to forgive the tickets, after realizing there was a lot of snow in the outer boroughs.
- During Day 6 of last year's Queens blackout, Mayor Bloomberg said, "I think Kevin Burke deserves a thanks from this city. He's worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at Con Ed." Of course, later, it was found that Con Ed neglected to maintain the Long Island City network, which caused many of the problems; Con Ed's customer assistance was also faulty in giving people information and in determining how big the problem was.
- When the Department of Education cut school bus routes and started doing things like giving 5-year-olds Metrocards and telling siblings who go to the same school to get picked up a mile a part, the Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and City Council members complained about the changes. The Mayor got huffy and said, "You're quoting people who have no experience in doing anything, so I don't quite know how to answer it. Nobody is going to be able to satisfy everybody, and if those people who haven't done anything in terms of management think that they know what to do, they should apply for jobs and we'll be happy to do it." Later, he admitted the changes didn't go well.
And regarding his Thursday day trip to Miami, the NY Times reports that Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, who is spokesman for the Bronx fire victims' families, "called at the request of the mayor's office" to show that the victims' families were "satisfied with the city's response." Drammeh told the Times, "They have been very pleased with the responses from all city agencies... they perfectly understand that there are multiple issues at every given moment.”
Photograph of Mayor Bloomberg arriving at yesterday's press conference about the Bronx fire by Jason DeCrow/AP