At an afternoon news conference today, Mayor Bloomberg continued to deflect questions about his whereabouts during the last snowstorm even as The New York Times published a story that placed his plane in Bermuda during the storm.
Bloomberg was asked why he does not, like the President of the United States, let the press and the public know when and where he goes on vacation.
“We have a public schedule. We started a policy back in January of 2002. The problem is the mayor would have no private life, couldn’t be with his kids, and would have the press following me around all the time. The president’s job is different. The president has to be there, andpresidents have, to my recollection, always told everybody where they are. But you don’t know the president day-in and day-out. I am sure he does a lot of private things with his family.”
Bloomberg said that regardless of where he was, he remained in charge and in contact of city government.
“The important thing is you are in communication. I not only have my cell phone, you have a police detail with you with all sorts of communications all the time. And to the best of my recollection in nine years there has never been a time when you couldn’t communicate,” he said. “When I first got elected there was a reporter who said I shouldn’t take the subways, because supposing I got stuck underground. But I suppose if I got stuck underground and there were no communications it would be a problem, but let me tell you I am going to continue to take the subway the same way I get to work and everybody else gets to work.”
And Bloomberg brushed aside questions about whether or not he would commit to remaining in the city during future storms, noting that each day his press office releases the details of his public events.
“Check the public schedule and [Press Secretary] Stu [Loeser] will be happy to provide that to you.”
The news conference came as the city prepares for another storm that is expected to dump up to a foot of snow around the region. The mayor warned New Yorkers that the worst of the snow would come just before the morning rush hour, and would continue through the evening rush hour. He said to avoid driving if possible.
“Tomorrow morning’s commute is not going to be easy,” the mayor said. “And I would assume that tomorrow night’s is not going to be easy, either.”
The Mayor said that Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith would convene a meeting with officials from the Office of Emergency Managment, the Sanitation Department, the Transportation Department, the NYPD and the FDNY and the M.T.A at 1 p.m. today to decide the next steps, including whether or not to call a snow emergency. At 5 a.m. a decision would be made on whether or not to close schools.
Bloomberg told reporters that he plans to go to a Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden tonight, which he said should get him home well before the worst of the storm hits.
The mayor has faced criticism not only for his handling of the snowstorm, but for appearing to some snowed-in New Yorkers that he was unconcerned with their plight. During the last storm he suggested that some people should take the time off from work to go see a Broadway show. Bloomberg today said that he prefers action to displays of emotion.
“When things go wrong you can never have enough empathy,” he said ” I think the people who serve the public in this city have an enormous amount of empathy. They try very hard, they work very hard I’ve always been very proud of them, I’m proud to be one of them. You can sit there and you can say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m sorry,’ or you can grab a shovel and get to work.”