At Blizzard Response Hearing, Quinn, James Pledge to Avoid Political Witchhunt

0209 snowmess east coast snow storm 02 600 full 600 1 At Blizzard Response Hearing, Quinn, James Pledge to Avoid Political WitchhuntThe Politicker is live at the temporary headquarters of the City Council–at the Emigrant Savings Bank across the street–along with nearly the entire City Council and a host of Bloomberg administration officials to watch the Council’s first inquiry into the botched blizzard response last month.

After a moment of silence for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Speaker Christine Quinn–making a rare appearance at a council hearing–noted that few legislative bodies in the world are as familiar with violence as the Council, a reference to the murder of James E. Davis in 2003.

Letitia James, the head of the Sanitation Committee, spoke first, and delivered a message to her colleagues who may be tempted to preen before the many TV cameras in the chambers today.

“This hearing will not turn into a public flogging of the administration,” she said. And, James warned her fellow council members against inquiring into the supposed slowdown by sanitation workers, noting that, “This is not a criminal investigation.”

Quinn spoke next and said the snowstorm represented a failure of government.

“The city’s response to this storm was completely unacceptable. It was nowhere near the standard that New Yorkers have come to expect,” she said. “Today is the day to determine why did so many streets not get plowed. Why was a snow emergency not declared?… Why weren’t adjustments made when things clearly had gone off track?”

We will continue to provide updates throughout the day.