Thursday, February 17, 2011

Timely Observations on Bloomberg's Disappearing Acts

We post the following with some sense of trepidation. We have been hectoring one and all about the need for Mayor Mike Bloomberg to let us peons know when he's leaving town-and now the NY Times endorses the legislation that we had suggested CM Vallone put forward: "Everybody deserves some corner of privacy, even the mayor of New York City. The problem comes when there is a big event — like a Christmas snowstorm — and the mayor has gone away (destination secret) and the deputy mayor is unavailable as well. The president, the governor and other mayors share their travel plans with the public and press. Mayor Michael Bloomberg should do the same. This is too big a city to be left on cruise control."

Or, as Gerson Borrero said on NY1 the other night, if Mike wants his privacy he should resign and we'll all leave him the hell alone. This all goes back, of course, to the mayor's in absentia performance during the Christmas blizzard: "The whole snowstorm mess has come up again because newly released travel logs show the Bloomberg airplane fleet making numerous trips to Bermuda and London and Paris. The mayor has refused to reveal when he has been on board those planes — including the one that went to Bermuda on Christmas Day and returned the next day just before the airports closed."

And the mayor's absence created a leadership vacuum that turned out badly for New Yorkers: "The City Charter says that when the mayor leaves the city’s five boroughs, he can turn the job over to the public advocate, currently Bill de Blasio, (which will never happen) or designate a deputy to take charge. The mayor has designated Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, and if she is not in town, the job goes to another deputy mayor, Stephen Goldsmith. When the blizzard hit in December, Mr. Goldsmith was in Washington, and it was unclear where Ms. Harris was. As the storm bore down, nobody seemed to have the authority or the willingness to declare a snow emergency, when that obviously was needed to stop people from clogging the streets with private cars."

Which gets us to CM Vallone's suggestion-and may he keep a stiff upper lip on it: "City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., of Queens, has promised a bill that would require City Hall to inform the public who is in charge while the mayor’s away. But even Mr. Vallone does not say the mayor must tell the city exactly where he is on those weekends. It is no invasion of Mr. Bloomberg’s privacy for him to announce when he leaves the city, where he’s going and exactly who’s in charge while he is away. Mayor of the City of New York is, after all, a public job."

But we have an additional suggestion-even though we do favor Borrero's helpful hint. If the mayor wants to leave town and is undecided about just who should lead in his place, than why not have Watson the Computer lead? He certainly could do no worse than those clueless clowns who couldn't simply say the magic words; snow emergency.