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Sources: More Heads Likely To Roll Over NYC Blizzard Debacle

Mayor's Mood Improves As He Tries To Change Public Opinion
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Photo by Marc A. Hermann-Pool/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Friday’s storm was nothing like the blizzard that paralyzed the city, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg was determined to show people he can learn from his mistakes and that he can’t be “snowed” twice in two weeks.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports on the tale of two snow storms.

It was barely snowing in Bensonhurst on 18th Avenue on Friday when a salt spreader passed by the Moose Lodge senior center just minutes before Bloomberg was due to show up.

Coincidence?

Or was it that the beleaguered mayor wanted to erase the ugly memories of stuck ambulances unable to reach the sick, and streets left unplowed for days and days.

“We don’t think the snowfall will be anything like the Christmas blizzard, but we are ready for any eventuality,” Bloomberg said.

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And although he was wearing a suit as he greeted seniors there were no more seemingly out-of-touch moments like when he urged snowbound New Yorkers to see a Broadway show and got angry with Kramer when she asked about the massive ambulance call backlog.

Following the Dec. 26 blizzard, Kramer told the mayor that there was a 1,300-call backup of EMS calls and a three-hour wait for response to priority. Bloomberg responded by saying, “What’s the question? I’m sorry. I hear the speech but …”

The question was how were sick people to get help with 170 ambulances stuck in the snow and no way to reach them. Despite a backlog that reached a high of 1,400 calls the mayor told Kramer with some impatience that EMS was “pretty much back to normal.”

On Friday, following the drubbing he took for the city’s blizzard response, the mayor’s tone changed. Asked if he has been arrogant in his snow response, Bloomberg dropped the combative tone.

“You know, I haven’t been out there shoveling with a shovel myself. That’s not my job. I don’t have a Class C license, so I can’t drive a garbage truck. But I don’t know. Look, I work as hard as I can and as you know our administration has always held ourselves accountable,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor said the city is expecting yet another snow storm in the middle of next week so he’ll get yet another chance to prove that he can shovel with the best of them.

However, the mayor’s new tone doesn’t mean there won’t be changes in his administration.

The Christmas blizzard has cost a number of city officials their jobs and the bloodletting may not be over yet.

People who read the tea leaves of city government say a picture of Bloomberg and Office of Emergency Management head Joseph Bruno speaks volumes about who’s in the mayor’s good graces and who’s not in the aftermath of the blizzard.

Compare: on Dec. 27 the picture showed the mayor surrounded by commissioners, including Bruno, when he met the press to discuss city response.

But on Thursday Bruno was missing when the mayor talked about preps for Friday’s storm. The mayor’s explanation was, well, a little thin.

“Joe Bruno is right now over at the Office of Emergency Management getting briefings, putting all the agencies together, doing what he’s supposed to do,” Bloomberg said.

Yeah, but sources said Bruno was also supposed to tell the mayor about the crash of the city’s emergency ambulance system — 170 ambulances stuck in the snow, a 1,400 call backlog — and not leave him open to embarrassment.

The first head to roll after Kramer exposed the EMS overload was, coincidently, John Perrugia, the head of EMS. On Friday, Kramer asked the mayor if he is considering any more blizzard-related personnel changes.

“We keep looking at things and evaluating and looking at seeing what worked and what didn’t work and whether we could have done it better and whether we think other people with a fresh view can do it better,” Bloomberg said.

Sources said that some changes won’t be announced until after the City Council blizzard hearings, which start on Monday.

The mayor said that one man who has job security is Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. He said he wants Doherty by his side until the end of his mayoralty in three years.

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