Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Business Like Snow Business

What a sight! All of the snow piled up in drifts and now, befitting of our snow clogged streets, New Yorkers are beginning to pile on the mayor-and Hizzoner's starting to get a tad defensive: "Facing whithering criticism for the slow pace of blizzard cleanup, a defensive Mayor Bloomberg asked New Yorkers to be patient and warned that plows still might not reach every street within the next 24 hours. 'We cannot do everything all the time and we are doing the best we can," said Bloomberg at a briefing in Brooklyn, which he called one of the hardest hit boroughs.  "We are trying to get to every street as fast as we can and as safely as we can. "I'm angry too," he said in response to the growing frustration of New Yorkers whose streets remain buried."

The mayor's belated rachmones, however, is falling on deaf ears: "I'm furious at Mayor Bloomberg, he's a rich man, so he doesn't care about the little people," said New Enrico's Car Service livery driver Julio Carpio, speaking in Spanish. "I have to work, why aren't people out there plowing? Why does the mayor always go on TV the night before to say, 'We're all set with a fleet of salt trucks,'? and then you never see a single truck. They always abandon Queens."

Even more telling is how the mayor's own allies are jumping ship on him-as the Observer points out: "Yesterday, Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield, who Bloomberg endorsed in his election bid last year, even sending some of his political troops to help with get-out-the-vote efforts, appeared on a Jewish radio show and blasted the snow-removal. "This could easily be the beginning of the end of Mayor Bloomberg's political career. It's such a big deal. And I am telling this as somebody who has always had a good relationship with the mayor and who has always worked well with him," Greenfield said. "This is a mayor who prides himself on saying the buck stops by him. And at the end of the day the buck does stop by him. We are going to hold him responsible. He is on notice. He better fix this or we are going to hold him personally accountable."

Greenfield may need to take a number, though:

"Queens councilman Eric Ulrich, who helped the mayor secure the backing of the Queens Republican Party and who was sworn in by Bloomberg when he won his seat in 2009, said the Mayor telling New Yorkers to go see a Broadway show was "like Marie Antoinette saying, 'Let the people eat cake.'

"I supported the mayor for a third term because I thought he was the best choice. I thought he was a good manager. Now I am starting to have doubts. You can't manage a  snowstorm after Christmas? I think people are starting to question his leadership ability," Ulrich added."

This is the second major body blow for Bloomberg-and in both cases, first the CityTime scandal and now this, the disasters come in areas that the mayor has cultivated an overblown reputation for excellence. It's doubly difficult to explain away major failures when you have spent hundreds of millions of dollars-aided and abetted by lap dog editorialists-spinning your own expertise in the very areas where the failures have occurred: fiscal acumen and managerial ability.

Which explains why, as David Freedlander headlines, the long knives are out-and why we believe it will be difficult for the mayor to ever regain his previously lofty reputation, one that we have long observed was undeserved. Still, as the NY Times reports, Bloomberg is going all out to redeem himself:: "The mayor appealed for people’s patience, saying that “it is a bad situation” but that the city’s response constituted “the biggest effort to clear snow our city has ever seen.”

Yet, Mike being Mike, the mayor doesn't do contrite real well-something that will make it difficult for New Yorkers, in Brooklyn and Queens in particular, to forgive him: "Mr. Bloomberg, while acknowledging some shortcomings, defended the city’s efforts. He said the sheer volume of vehicles — from private automobiles and city buses to dozens of ambulances and fire trucks that had been responding to emergency calls during the storm but had instead gotten stuck — had prevented snowplows from clearing streets or making their way through to reach other snowbound neighborhoods."

His comments on Monday, however, will stick in our collective craw for a long time: "We are trying to get to every street as fast as we can and as safely as we can,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “You can expect another 24 hours, but even then I’m not sure we’ll get to every one.” The mayor’s conciliatory tone on Tuesday was in marked contrast to his remarks at a Monday news conference. Then he had told a city that had its airports closed, some of its major roadways rendered impassable and its public transit systems knocked out of commission: “The world has not come to an end. The city is going fine.” Those comments angered some New Yorkers, particularly those who continue to be unable to get to work or even leave their homes because of the pileup of snow around the city."

In our view, the altered attitude is too little, too late. The Observer reports: "Many New Yorkers are still coping with a serious hardship as a result of this blizzard," he said. "And I want them to know that I do appreciate the severity of these conditions they face and the bottom line is we are doing everything we can." The mayor said that the biggest problem to getting the city up to normal is the ambulances, cars, and buses that remain stuck on city streets. They are preventing plows from making their way down secondary roads. Today's press conference had a different tone than yesterday's. Then, the mayor appeared with several deputies and officials who came dressed in casual cold-weather wear. Today the mayor was joined by NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, and he announced that he announced that he ordered a thorough review of the city's 911 system amidst reports that FDNY had a back-up of over a thousand emergency calls yesterday."

As soon as he offers a soupcon of conciliation, in his next breathe we get: "And Mayor Bloomberg said he had little patience for those grumbling about the clean-up. "We can not do everything all the time. And we are doing the best we can. I think that this city has pulled together. I don't think that we should sit around and think that the end of the world is here. We cannot be every place at all times, but if you look around, the people behind me are the people that are the best in this country to lead this city and to provide the services we need..."

And this from the NY Post dots the "I's" and crosses the "T's" of our point: "Asked if he had any regrets about the way the city handled the storm's aftermath, Bloomberg sarcastically responded, "I regret everything in the world."

Not as many regrets as the growing number of New Yorkers who have buyer's remorse for having voted to give Mike Bloomberg a third term. For those of us who didn't think the mayor deserved a usurped third term, all we can say is, "We told you so,"