Critics target Bloomberg amid storm debacle

Bystanders joined an ambulance crew in trying to free its stuck vehicle in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
Bystanders joined an ambulance crew in trying to free its stuck vehicle in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. (Chris Hondros)
From News Reports
Thursday, December 30, 2010

With plenty of New York neighborhoods still buried under snow Wednesday, three days after a blizzard dumped 20 inches on the city, residents are increasingly pointing blame at Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I).

And across the Hudson River, New Jersey officials are raising sharp questions about the continuing absence of Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) as the state digs out from the storm.

The loudest complaints against Bloomberg have come from the city's boroughs beyond Manhattan, where the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were reminded once again of their often-secondary status. In some outlying neighborhoods, nearly three-fourths of smaller roads were still covered, Bloomberg said Wednesday.

Even the mayor's allies are critical. One such ally, City Council President Christine Quinn, called for hearings on the city's reaction.

"I've never seen such gross mismanagement and lack of leadership in my lifetime. People are furious," said City Councilman David Greenfield of Brooklyn, another supporter of Bloomberg.

"This is a mayor who prided himself on his ability as a manager. If we were grading him on his response to the snowstorm, he would get an 'F,' " Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. "Bloomberg wants to run for president, yet he can't even handle getting the streets of the Bronx plowed? That is unacceptable."

Not helping the situation were Bloomberg's own comments. In remarks Monday that seemed to focus only on Manhattan, he said: "The city is going fine. Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. I think the message is that the city goes on."

But Bloomberg delivered a far different message Wednesday, saying at a Bronx hardware store: "We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do, or as the city has the right to expect. We'll figure out what happened this time and try to make it better next time."

Bloomberg said he couldn't explain why this storm proved so tough, compared with earlier ones that seemed just as severe.

"We had the same plan with the same equipment," he said. "The question is, 'Why didn't it work this time?' "

In New Jersey, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D) remained in charge of the state's cleanup as acting governor. Both Christie and Guadagno left New Jersey before the storm hit, Christie going on vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida after the lieutenant governor had gone to Mexico to visit her ailing father.

"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office of lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D) told the Newark Star-Ledger.

"It's a big snow, definitely, but the world is not coming to an end," a Christie spokesman told the Star-Ledger. "We are a northeastern state and we get snow - sometimes lots of it like this - and we will get through it just as we always do."

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