As this is New Year’s Eve, my first and easiest resolution is to note that this will be my final article on the subject of the blizzard of 2010. While the analysis of the city’s handling of the major weather event will go on for some time, those of us who have lived through it don’t need the Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty to do his “research.” We know what went wrong and apologies at this point are meaningless.
One thing I have wanted to say all along is that we New Yorkers do not blame sanitation workers – New York’s Strongest – for what happened. Many of these guys have been working twelve-hour shifts all week long, fighting a losing battle, and knowing that people are angry. These guys are fellow New Yorkers (for the most part), and they feel our pain.
It is the head of the department and his minions who are to blame, along with the Mayor and his cadre of nitwits who failed to declare an emergency on time. A declaration would have taken buses off the streets, not making them massive obstacles stuck in the snow and in the way of sanitation plows. It would have also taken many cars off streets where they were eventually abandoned and also in the path of workers.
Mayor Bloomberg traveled to the hardest hit areas yesterday, but to many this was four days too late. One might have expected him to be pelted with snowballs as he stood among complaining homeowners, but a bucket of water would have been better, only for us to have his “I’m melting” moment as his feet would sink beneath him into the Brooklyn street that he neglected to have plowed.
There is no way to know what will happen in the weeks ahead. Will we eventually learn if the story about a “slowdown” called by outer borough sanitation bosses is true? Will we ever know why Manhattan bike lanes were plowed before Queens and Brooklyn streets? Will someone answer for the deaths caused by those unplowed streets preventing EMS workers to get to these people?
All I know is that Mayor Bloomberg and John Doherty seem an awful lot like Bruce Ismay and Captain EJ Smith of Titanic fame. As Smith’s boss, Ismay ordered the captain to speed through waters known for icebergs to get to New York ahead of time. We know how well that turned out: lots of people died and Smith went down with his ship. Problem here is Doherty is still standing, and Mayor Bloomberg has thrown him a life preserver and is behind him all the way.
New Yorkers are a resilient bunch. As most of the world now knows after 9/11, we can take a few tough punches, even go down for the count, but then we get up and are ready to go twelve rounds. This blizzard packed a wallop, and we are down but not out. The problem is that we have the wrong guy in our corner, so when the bell rings, we want to turn around and sock him instead of our opponent.
The snow in our streets will eventually melt, the rivulets of its residue will go down our city sewers and eventually out to sea. Time will move on, but this is one storm that will not be forgotten nor will our Mayor’s response to it.
I have one comforting thought: on a cold winter’s night In the weeks ahead Bloomberg is going to hear a voice in his room in the palace that overlooks New York City. He will rub his eyes and look up to see the Ghost of Blizzards Past John Lindsay hovering over his bed. Lindsay will say, “Welcome to the club, Mike.” Then he will go “poof” and disappear. How do you go back to sleep after that, Mr. Mayor?
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