A somber yet defiant Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared at the Office of Emergency Management in downtown Brooklyn today to defend his administration’s response to the blizzard that walloped the city on Sunday night.
The mayor said that he was overseeing the biggest effort to clear snow that the city has ever seen, and detailed the number of city agencies and personnel that are getting involved in the snow removal.
“We need all the resources we can get and we are asking New Yorkers to do a few things as well. First, your patience. It is a bad situation and we are working together to correct it. We appreciate it. I have been to see it myself. Nobody suggests this is easy. Nobody suggests that this is pleasurable. But I can tell you this, that we are doing everything we can think of, working as hard as we can and we will pull together and get through this,” the mayor said.
Criticism of Mayor Bloomberg as being out-of touch for his suggestion that New Yorkers use the snowstorm to go check out any Broadway shows they may have missed has been fast and furious as many elected officials say that their constituents are living on unplowed streets and forced to commute to work on subway trains that are limping along.
Today the mayor sent the message that he has heard the pleas, detailing how he visited small businesses in all five boroughs yesterday to get a sense of how they are managing the storm.
“Many New Yorkers are still coping with a serious hardship as a result of this blizzard,” he said. “And I want them to know that I do appreciate the severity of these conditions they face and the bottom line is we are doing everything we can.”
The mayor said that the biggest problem to getting the city up to normal is the ambulances, cars, and buses that remain stuck on city streets. They are preventing plows from making their way down secondary roads.
Today’s press conference had a different tone than yesterday’s. Then, the mayor appeared with several deputies and officials who came dressed in casual cold-weather wear. Today the mayor was joined by NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, and he announced that he announced that he ordered a thorough review of the city’s 911 system amidst reports that FDNY had a back-up of over a thousand emergency calls yesterday.
And Mayor Bloomberg said he had little patience for those grumbling about the clean-up.
“We can not do everything all the time. And we are doing the best we can. I think that this city has pulled together. I don’t think that we should sit around and think that the end of the world is here. We cannot be every place at all times, but if you look around, the people behind me are the people that are the best in this country to lead this city and to provide the services we need,” he said, adding, “Yelling about it and complaining doesn’t help. Trying to find ways to get more tow trucks would help, trying to find ways to get people to use mass transit and leave their cars at home even when mass transit isn’t functioning all that well, these are things that are productive…Trying to denigrate what [sanitation workers] have been trying to do doesn’t add anything to the picture.”
And Mayor Bloomberg declined to say if he regrets any thing the city did or didn’t do in the past several days, saying that a performance review would wait until the clean-up was complete. He did say it would likely be another 24 hours before all the streets are cleared.