Mayor Michael Bloomberg held an hastily-scheduled afternoon news conference today to reassure New Yorkers that his administration was prepared for the snowstorm that is bearing down on New York City.
“We have held ourselves to very high standards of performance in our administration,” Bloomberg said. “And while I realize they were problems with snow clean-up efforts last week, we want to reassure all New Yorkers that we are doing everything in our power to make sure we don’t experience those kinds of problems again. We plan to do a great job.”
The mayor announced that the city would deploy a team to video-monitor spots around the city and have installed GPS tracking devices in 50 sanitation trucks.
But the mayor was dogged by questions about the firing of John Peruggia, who headed the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services. He was replaced by Abdo Nahmod, a longtime deputy in the department.
The Bloomberg administration has been intensely loyal to staffers, and so the demotion of Peruggia came as something of a surprise. Bloomberg has rebuffed, for example, calls to replace Sanitation Dept. head John Doherty, pledging that Doherty would remain in his post for the rest of the administration.
When asked why Peruggia was the first to be demoted, the mayor simply said, “Because I made that decision.”
Pressed on what Peruggia failed to do, Bloomberg said “We did not give the public the service that the public has a right to expect when it comes to ambulances. And it starts with the management. He worked very hard, he worked all night long, we just did not get the service that the public wants.”
The mayor was joined by Doherty and Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. Bloomberg was also asked why he will not reveal where he or Goldsmith were on Christmas Eve, as the last snowstorm approached.
“We don’t announce, other than the public schedule, where the mayor is,” the mayor responded.
Pressed for a reason as to why he refuses to reveal his whereabouts, Bloomberg said, “There is no reason. I have a right to a private life the same as you do.”
The administration is still conducting an internal review of its performance during the last snowstorm, and the City Council is preparing to hold hearings on the administration’s snow removal efforts next week.