NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been facing tough questions about his whereabouts during the deadly Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx on Sunday morning.
The mayor has not addressed specifically where he was on Sunday, but the Wall Street Journal reported he was in Bermuda and spent the morning playing golf.
Citing a person who “spotted” the mayor, Bloomberg was on the links at the Mid Ocean golf course in Bermuda from the early morning to noon eastern time, the newspaper reported.
When asked where he was on Sunday morning, Bloomberg did not answer the question, saying instead that the performance of first responders was the relevant issue.
“The response from our men and women in uniform was outstanding, and it’s my job to make sure that our police officers and firefighters and EMTs are well-led, well-trained, well-equipped to do the job, and they are, and I think that they prove it time and time again, and they did so again yesterday. It was a very tragic event, but I don’t think there’s any question that our first responders save lives. That’s what matters,” he said.
When pressed about the report that he was golfing, and whether he should instead have been at the scene, Bloomberg suggested again that the question was not relevant.
“You just have to check the public schedule for where I am at any point in time,” he said. “It will certainly tell you anything that is germane to the job.”
Bloomberg said he did not have any regrets about how first responders handled the accident.
“What my understanding is – and I think (Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman) Tom Pendergast said exactly the same thing – and I got a call from Washington from the Department of Transportation – it was a textbook kind of response. This is exactly what we train for,” the mayor said. “This is why the public spends its money to have the best police department, the best fire department, and the best office of emergency management.”
President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio all released statements of concern following the derailment, but Bloomberg did not. He also did not visit the scene of the accident, although he did visit injured people at St. Barnabas Hospital Sunday afternoon.
A single tweet also went out over Mayor Bloomberg’s account, as well as the official New York City Mayor’s Office account: “Thoughts and prayers with those impacted by today’s train derailment. If you are looking for a loved one who was onboard, call 311.”
The tweet appeared shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday, more than six hours after the accident. When asked why it took him so long to send the tweet, Bloomberg said he did not, in fact, send it.
“I didn’t tweet anybody. Maybe my staff did, but rest assured that I did not,” he said. “When I was informed about the train wreck – I don’t know if it was in minutes, or 20 minutes, half an hour after it happened, and I was in constant communications with my commissioners, who are there to do the job. They’re supposed to show up and they’re supposed to do it, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio addressed Bloomberg’s absence in comments Monday, but was careful to frame his comments without criticism.
“Clearly, this was the governor’s purview — let’s be clear,” de Blasio told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
There has been some chatter that Mayor Bloomberg was in Bermuda playing golf on Sunday and, as a result, did not visit the scene of the crash.
“My instinct in these things is to be present even if the city is not the lead. Obviously, it’s a bit of a case by case situation,” said de Blasio.
The mayor-elect said he didn’t go to the crash scene because he does not take over as the city’s leader until next month.
Bloomberg has always been tight-lipped about personal trips, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
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