Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bloomberg Getting Testy Over Snowstorm Response

Media reports are replete with complaints from New Yorkers around the City about the City's poor storm response. Mayor Mike Bloomberg keeps mentioning that this is the worst storm in the city's history (5th most at Central Park, but he's at least in the ballpark).
Addressing complaints about snow-covered streets and continued airport disruptions, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday called the blizzard of 2010 "not like any other" storm to hit the city, and said he was heading "the biggest effort to clear snow that our city has ever seen."

"We still have a long way to go," he told a press conference, but some 1,000 vehicles were removed from key highways on Monday and the city is hiring private plows to help.

Bloomberg defended his fire, police and transportation departments, saying the enormity of the blizzard overwhelmed the city and hundreds of abandoned vehicles made it that much harder to plow streets.

But, in response to a reporter's question about frustrated residents, he added that "I'm angry too" about the cleanup pace.

The problem starts at the top. Bloomberg refuses to acknowledge that he made the mistake of not declaring a state of emergency that would have given various Departments additional capabilities and forced people off the roads. The state of emergency would further show the seriousness of the situation and the more drivers that stayed off the roads, the more likely the Sanitation Department could get on with clearing roads around the City.

Major roads in Manhattan are clear, but good luck trying to traverse secondary and tertiary roads - especially in the outer boroughs. Some have not yet been touched by plows.

Then again, some side streets and SUV owners might wish that the plows had not come down their street.

As the storm bore down on the Metro area, a state of emergency would have been the prudent course of action. Not only would that have communicated the seriousness of the situation, but it would have meant that non-essential businesses would be closed and that traffic would be minimal.

Since that wasn't done, streets became clogged with cars, trucks, and even emergency vehicles and sanitation plows became stuck. Those folks who paid heed to warnings to avoid driving found themselves stuck, delayed, or stranded by buses and subways that were inoperative, delayed, or stuck on routes. The MTA has done a poor job in getting its subways operational, as there are ongoing delays, cancellations, and rerouting of trains.

That has further complicated and delayed the snow clearing operations. Staten Island residents are finding themselves unable to get in touch with 311 or other official phone lines for reporting unplowed streets (probably because everyone around the city is calling in the same problems). It's little wonder that the City gets an F from Staten Island residents.

But remember, if you fail to clear your own sidewalks, you can be subject to fines.

Someone better hold the MTA accountable for sending out hundreds of buses in the snowstorm only to be stranded and stuck on route.

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