Monday, January 03, 2011

Unanswered Questions

Marty Steadman, veteran political reporter, sent us the following commentary on the failures of the Bloomberg administration during last week's blizzard. It should be incumbent for every reporter to get all of the answers to the questions that Marty poses here:

 "I think that because the Christmas blizzard resulted in several deaths that may have been avoided-and a thorough, honest investigation should be done by one or more of the five District Attorneys.  Much, if not most of the ugly news came from Brooklyn, and that might be the District Attorney most motivated to jump in. 

The most troubling aspect of the city's poor response is the failure to declare a Snow Emergency.  I have a very clear recollection that I first heard a warning of a significant snowfall at approximately 9 a.m.Saturday (Christmas Day) on WCBS Radio. Weatherman John Elliott said we could expect up to 16 inches of snow.  At approximately 12 Noon that day, the Weather Channel predicted over a foot of snow for the region.

According to Pat Bahnken, President of the EMS union, emergency service agencies asked Joseph F. Bruno, Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management to declare a Snow Emergency at 3 a.m. Monday.  Did that actually happen?  If so, why was the suggestion rejected?  If it did happen, did Bruno confer with anyone in the Mayor's Office to help him reach his decision?  We know the Deputy Mayor was in Washington, but we do not know exactly where the Mayor was before he appeared on TV late Sunday afternoon. 

Why would the city not declare a Snow Emergency as soon as weather forecasters warned of a severe storm?  It's being denied, but the possibility remains very strong that finances had something to do with it.  I believe such a declaration mandates a call up of workers from several agencies, including Sanitation.  Sunday would be a very expensive day.  I don't know what the various union contracts say, but I heard the Sanitation Commissioner say Sunday was double pay.

That thorough, honest investigation I recommend should start with who was in charge of this emergency?  When was the first suggestion made to declare a Snow Emergency?   I can't believe it was never discussed until 3 a.m. Monday.   By that time, 42 hours had passed since John Elliott alerted me and about a million other listeners of WCBS radio news to a very bad situation headed our way.  Worse, at 3 a.m. Monday there was probably a foot of snow in Central Park. 

The central questions about what went wrong start with 9 a.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Monday.  Who did not do what, and when did they not do it?"