Say what you will about him, at least the man makes the trains run on time. Or at least he did, until the blizzard hit and passengers started getting trapped on city subway trains for seven hours. I know most of our readers don’t care about NYC politics, but since Bloomberg-bashing is a treasured pastime at HA (especially by me), let’s take a moment to make snow angels in the cold white drifts of his agony. Compare and contrast: Here’s the scene outside Bloomy’s luxe Manhattan townhouse and here’s the scene in the outer boroughs according to angry residents:
“This is impossible,” one Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, resident told WCBS-TV. “I’ve lived on this street for 24 years and never, ever, ever were we not plowed. We’re really frustrated no one on the block, no one in the neighborhood could move.”
“In Brooklyn, we are stranded,” a Brownsville, Brooklyn, resident told WCBS-TV. “We can’t get to work. The buses aren’t running. The L (subway) train isn’t running, and the streets have not been cleaned, not been plowed at all.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm shook his head and came short of stamping his feet on two feet of unplowed snow on 75th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens.
“The fact that there has been no plow in this neighborhood at all is a disaster,” Dromm told WCBS-TV. “It’s hard to understand why the city was so unprepared for this storm because we knew for a long time that it was coming.”
Bloomberg told reporters the city simply does not have enough tow trucks and crews to dig out the abandoned vehicles, and has been pleading with private companies to help out.
Says Dromm, “I think the mayor must be living in another world if he thinks that the response to this has been satisfactory.” Meanwhile, in Newark, Mayor Cory Booker (a Democrat, alas) is going around digging people’s cars out with his own shovel. Remember, though, Bloomberg’s supposedly the guy whom the media assures us is worth considering for president because, squish or not, he’s just too darned capable to ignore. And by way of background, this isn’t the first time he’s been accused of ignoring a crisis in the outer boroughs. The power went out in parts of Queens for nearly a full week in the summer of 2006 (I remember it only too well) and accusations flew that Mayor Nolabels never would have tolerated it had it happened in Manhattan instead. Some of that reaction is due to eternal outer-borough disgruntlement at being perceived as second-class citizens, but part of it’s also a reaction to Bloomy’s own wealth and privilege. A sneak preview, perhaps, of the national response if he tried to buy himself the White House in 2012 with unemployment near 10 percent.
And yet, and yet, despite it all, at the moment I’m inclined to give him a pass on this. For one thing, as someone who’s lived in the city for almost 30 years, I don’t remember the snow ever being this heavy. There were drifts five feet high in a neighbor’s yard yesterday; even today, some crosswalks are still impassable because the snow’s been piled to neck level in front of them. The snow in some streets is still so deep that I’m not sure a plow could get down them. Which is to say, this isn’t business as usual for NYC. Can’t expect perfection in coping with something that’s virtually unprecedented. The other reason I’m loath to beat up on him is that the left’s whining about Chris Christie being on vacation in Florida while New Jersey digs itself out of the snow — which helps explain gubernatorial aspirant Cory Booker’s quick action — and so hammering Bloomy kinda sorta requires hammering Christie. (Fun fact: Christie’s chief critic on this matter in the New Jersey legislature is himself in Florida right now.) Or does it? True to hackish form, I’ve been searching for reasons why Bloomberg’s response is bad but Christie’s is A-OK. Is it good enough that there haven’t been many complaints about Jersey’s handling of the storm, in stark contrast to the scene in NYC? How about the fact that snow removal is really a local matter, something a mayor is very much needed for but not so much a governor? Help me out here. All theories/excuses welcome.
Two clips for you, one of Bloomy fielding questions and the other of New York sanitation doing their best not to totally destroy an SUV while digging their way out of the snow. Click the first image to watch.
Update: Andy Levy fantasizes: “BREAKING: Mayor Bloomberg to go on ‘Morning Joe’ and blame NYC’s poor blizzard response on hyper-partisanship.”