Mayor Bill de Blasio today defended his administration’s snow-clearing efforts, brushing aside allegations that plows skipped the Upper East Side in an act of political revenge.
“They’re just mistaken. No one was treated differently. We believe in a five-bough approach in everything we do,” he told reporters, taking questions during a storm briefing at a Brooklyn firehouse.
The snow-clearing allegations–highlighted on the front page of the New York Post, as well as by other outlets–accused Mr. de Blasio’s administration of intentionally snubbing the tony neighborhood, which mostly voted for his rivals in last year’s elections. But Mr. de Blasio insisted crews were working as fast as they could and that resources being spread evenly across the city.
“I think people need to be mindful when they hurl those charges,” the mayor advised the media. “That is not real respectful of the men and women who work so hard for us in sanitation. They were out there in force in every neighborhood.”
Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty was equally dismissive of the allegations, which he said stemmed from a busted GPS on one sanitation truck that made an online tracker broadcasting progress inaccurate. That, combined with especially bad traffic in the neighborhood, that made it hard for plows to move, he said.
“I want to get beyond that,” Mr. Doherty replied when asked about the East Side plowing accusation. “I’ve answered it to many, many people in the press this morning on radio and TV. It is what it is. They can believe what they want. I know what we did.”
The reporters present nevertheless continued to press, demanding answers for why they thought Brooklyn streets were better plowed than the East Side’s this morning.
“Again, we had I think an extraordinary effort in the last 24 hours. And if you go to a lot of parts of the city–I’ve been talking to people all over they city–they’re reporting an ever-improving situation,” said Mr. de Blasio. “No one is at fault when it comes to the question of the snow intensifying right before the rush hour.”
“I’m telling you, based on everything I heard, there was a very strong and consistent effort,” he would soon insist again.
“So with all due respect to anyone who wants to play out a theory here, it’s just not accurate,” he later offered, pushed yet again on the relative differences between Brooklyn and Manhattan thoroughfares.
In some ways, this morning’s criticisms represented a reversal of fortunes for the new mayor. Back in 2010, Mr. de Blasio was among the leading critics of former Mayor Bloomberg for his response to the post-Christmas blizzard, accusing him of ignoring outer-borough neighborhoods in favor of Manhattan. Today, Mr. de Blasio said that criticism was part of the gig.
“Didn’t expect two snowstorms in the first month, but it does come with the job and there’s a rich history of people in leadership positions dealing with weather crises,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s what you signed up for. And my attitude is you have to be on top of the action, you have to lead from the front, you have to know what’s going on … But you know, by definition, if you start a morning with no snow on the ground and by the end the day there’s a foot of snow on the ground, there will be challenges. And all of us signed up for those challenges.”
“And if people didn’t want to handle these problems and didn’t want to take some criticism in the process,” he continued, “none of us would do this work.”
With reporting by Colin Campbell