Thursday, January 13, 2011

The King is in the Altogether

City Room had a wonderful picture comparison on its web site yesterday that compared one Brooklyn street in the aftermath of the Christmas Day storm, and then how the street looked after the storm that just ended: "If the block of Butler Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that feeds off the one-way alley called Gregory Place is any indicator, the city has been a bit more prompt in clearing the snow than it was last month."

And so it went every where in the city-with a snow play every ten minutes passing our window while we were trying to sleep. One wag told us that was because they knew where we lived, but we don't think so. This was a concentrated effort to remedy the severe damage that was done in December, but in our view, all the mayor succeeded in doing was to dramatize how collosal his December failure really was.

CM Oddo agrees with us, and tells YNN that there is little that Bloomberg can do to rectify the damage that was done last year: "There has been much talk of second chances for Mayor Bloomberg in light of the most recent snowstorm to blanket the five boroughs with flakes. But NYC Council Minority Leader Jimmy Oddo, who isn’t shy about speaking his mind when it comes to the Bloomberg administration, told radio host Curtis Sliwa last night that no matter how fabulous the response this time around, the mayor won’t likely be able to redeem himself from the last blizzard debacle."

As Oddo sees it: "The ironic thing is even if they do a good job and we don’t have the same problems we had with the blizzard, I’m not sure they’ll get any credit for it. I think there’s been permanent damage done to their reputation.”

What is truly fascinating is how the Bermuda onion, once the peeling has begun, will not stop from unraveling the mayor-as Oddo points out: "It was a fascinating day,” the Staten Island Republican said. “You had a deputy mayor sit there and tell the public that a decision about a snow emergency was reached without anyone notifying the mayor of the city of NY. Now think about that. The guy has an iPad. He’s got a BlackBerry. He made millions of dollars in the technology field and no one thought to send him an e-mail.”

The WSJ chimes in-relentlessly: "When it comes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weekend jaunts to Bermuda, the billionaire chief executive maintains a strict don't ask, don't tell policy: Don't ask where he is—because he's not telling. Since becoming mayor nine years ago, Mr. Bloomberg has steadfastly refused to reveal when he leaves the five boroughs for non-city business, arguing he's entitled to a private life without reporters and photographers following him, for example, to Bermuda's majestic Mid Ocean golf club. The controversy surrounding the mayor's demand for secrecy when it comes to his out-of-town trips exploded, once again, into public view last month when the mayor apparently jetted off to Bermuda as a massive blizzard barreled toward New York City. The mayor owns a multimillion-dollar mansion on the island."

And CM Peter Vallone, like a dog with a bone, is looking to rectify this arrogant resort to privilege: "Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., who endorsed the mayor's re-election in 2009 and has been highly critical of the city's response to the storm, said he is drafting legislation that would require the mayor to notify the city clerk whenever he leaves the city. "The man doesn't take vacation. He has every right to go away on an occasional weekend, and to keep his location secret, but the charter requires he delegate his power whenever he leaves the city," said Mr. Vallone, arguing that the public has a right to know when that happens. "I'm well aware that during snow emergencies he's always reachable," Mr. Vallone added, "but during the next terrorist attack, he may not be."

True enough, but even if he were reachable  during last December's snow storm, as Oddo chirps, apparently all of his minions simply forgot to do so-and the results speak for themselves. The next thing the press should do is to detail the amount of time Bloomberg has been absent during his nine year tenure-and start with the NYPD that has to detail at least one officer for the mayor's security. The city council should also be playing a role here-especially if the Vallone bill gets drafted and a hearing is held.

For his part, we don't think that the NY Post's Michael Goodwin is sanguine about the council's ability in this regard-and he feels that its hearing let the Bloombergistas off too easily:

"We still don't know what went wrong in the early hours at the snow bunker, especially where the mayor was when ambulances first got stuck and people were dying. Because the council took no for an answer, high-fives for the Bloomies definitely were in order -- if shutting out the public is your idea of winning. Nine years and nine days into his reign, we have found Michael Bloomberg's Holy Grail. Our cranky chief executive is blasé about most things, except where he goes on weekends. About that, he is passionate, defiant and unyielding, as though he is guarding a double life. He is -- the life of the international billionaire. To shield it from scrutiny, he claims an absolute right of privacy, and 8 million New Yorkers might as well be jesters in the King's court."

Goodwin sees this claim of executive privilege as a sign of Bloomberg's pure arrogance: "As lines in the Bermuda sand go, this is a foolish one for the mayor to draw. It is based on no serious principle and serves no public interest. It serves him only in the narrowest sense. No other mayor has demanded the privilege of leaving town, much less the country, on the sly. Most considered the job the privilege of their lives. This one's on duty 24/5 and if you don't like it, go jump in a yellow snowbank, though there still could be Christmas garbage buried under it. By turning a reasonable right to privacy into an absolute privilege, Bloomberg undercuts confidence in his leadership and the image he tried to create. He spent hundreds of millions to convince us he's a hands-on manager and an ordinary Joe, but the truth will out."

Altogether now, let's sing along with Danny Kaye:

"Look at the King! Look at the the King! Look at the King, the King, the King!
The King is in the all together
But all together the all together
He's all together as naked as the day that he was born.
The King is in the all together
But all together the all together
It's all together the very least the King has ever worn."

We'll give Goodwin the last word-but we definitely haven't heard the last word on this: "Incomparable wealth has given him an extreme sense of entitlement. His belief that he can go AWOL and leave the job to others is reason never again to trust a billionaire with public office. And this one wants to run America. From where -- Bermuda?"