Reporting Tony Aiello
NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS) — Under pressure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted on Wednesday that New York City messed up.
There are still many street in the city’s outer boroughs that haven’t been plowed – three days after the tri-state was blasted with a weekend blizzard.
City Hall is promising that every street will be plowed by Thursday, but until then, the city’s inadequate response is sparking outrage – and Bloomberg finds himself on the hot seat.
Despite the plows that were spotted parked at the Department of Sanitation depot on Wednesday, the mayor said the city was throwing everything it could at the storm’s aftermath.
If anger alone could melt the snow, streets in every borough would be down to bare pavement.
“He should be ashamed of himself,” said one Midwood, Brooklyn resident. “His arrogance and lofty attitude are disgusting.”
“He wasn’t prepared for this. If he was, he would have had snow plows in all five boroughs, and the streets would have been cleaned up by now,” said another resident.
Mayor’s Response to Criticism of City’s Handling of Blizzard
Bloomberg promised that every city street will be passable by Thursday morning, and if you’re not happy with the city’s response, the mayor wants you to know that he’s not happy either.
“You know, you can grade us any way you want. We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do, or as the city has a right to expect,” he said.
Clearly, the everywhere-but-Manhattan mess is not what the mayor expected. As the blizzard began Sunday, Hizzoner said he set high expectations for a relatively normal clean-up.
Outer Boroughs Angry at Lack of Snow Removal
“I guess we’re getting lucky that this happens to be a quiet week anyways,” Bloomberg said Sunday. “Less traffic means it’s easier for the plows to get down the streets.”
City Councilman James Vacca said that was the start of the mayor’s troubles.
“When you have a blizzard like this, you never set expectations, because this was a catastrophic condition,” Vacca said.
“We had the same plan – with the same equipment and the same well-trained and managed staff – that we had every other time, and it worked better the other times,” the mayor said. “The question is, why did it not work as well this time?”
The one obvious reason is that fewer independent contractors stepped up to clean the narrow residential streets in Queens and Brooklyn.
CBS 2′s Tony Aiello asked Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty why that was the case.
“We don’t know yet, we don’t know. This is something that I have not experienced in the past,” Doherty said.
The mayor said Doherty’s job is not at risk, but the commissioner admitted that the blizzard has put a chill on the department’s reputation.
“We got tarnished on this one, no question about it, and we have to earn back a little bit more respect,” Doherty said.
Even as he accepted blame, the mayor spread responsibility for the snow snafu to the public for making thousands of non-emergency 911 calls.
“That overwhelmed the system,” Bloomberg said. “We asked people not to drive, but to take mass transit. Someone can say, ‘oh, mass transit wasn’t functioning.’ I understand that, but your car stuck in the middle of the road made things worse.”
The complaints about the clean-up come just three months after similar issues following the September tornado that devastated Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens – the same boroughs feeling neglected after the weekend blizzard.
The responses to major weather events are taking a toll, and have many calling this a low point in Bloomberg’s nine years as mayor.
Brooklyn Borough President Rides Along in Mobile 2