Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The blogging for 2010 is done.

See you in the new year!

What's Wrong With Klein

From the WTF? File:

"It was an Achilles heel only to this degree. Joel mastered how to listen, talk, think and work on a BlackBerry all at the same time. But you still got 100 percent of his attention but it doesn't seem that way," said Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone.

How do you have 100 percent of somebody's attention when they're talking with you, reading something on a Blackberry, thinking about how to respond about that something they just read on a Blackberry and thinking about how to respond to what you just said?

Sorry, that's more like 25% of somebody's attention.

And that's the problem with so many of these ed deformers - from Gates to Rhee to Klein.

They're social misfits with the socio-emotional skills of maladjusted adolescents.

Do we really need distracted humans with an inability to single task on something or actually be present 100% in a conversation with somebody running anything in society, let alone education policy and school systems?

Gates wants to add MORE technology to classrooms (remember, this is a guy who demanded all important interactions and communications at Microsoft be done by email rather than face-to-face.)

We don't need MORE technology in classrooms, we need LESS technology in classrooms.

We need to help develop human beings who are socially and emotionally well-adjusted, who can single task, who can be present in conversations and relationships with others, who don't need to be constantly distracted by gadgets so that they can check out emotionally from any painful or awkward feelings, who can empathize with others.

Adding Blackberries, Smart Boards, Microsoft-brand software, Twitter and other technologies to the classroom isn't going to develop those kinds of human beings.

It's going to develop more maladjusted, socio-emotional misfits like Klein, Rhee and Gates.

Clearing Times Square In Time For New Year's Eve

From a Daily News reader:

His Highness Mayor Bloomberg is more concerned about clearing the snow from Times Square in time for New Year's Eve than about the snowbound sections of Queens and other areas.

I can attest to that.

Walked through Times Square last night and all was hunky dory in time for tonight's New Year's Eve ball dropping.

Say it with me and the mayor now - whew!!!!

Wouldn't want Times Square to not be cleared in time for the bullshit that is New Year's Eve in Times Square.

Here's hoping the ball drops on Bloomberg's head.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Walmart Comes To New York

Gee, where was the Walmart T-Rex during the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2010?

We could have used that fire power to melt the snow.

Silly, RBE - Walmart only uses that fire power against small merchants and minimum wage Walmart workers...

Mayor Blames Teachers For Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster

Accountable Talk has the details.

All the problems in the world really do come down to teacher tenure and seniority rules, don't they?

Damned unions!

Bloomberg Sends 12 FDNY Companies For Training Yesterday

From the Nothing Is More Important Than Professional Development file:


Snowbound roads in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island remained unplowed, with the locals livid and longing for help.

A morning conference call held by the city Office of Emergency Management focused on which streets to make a priority, as plows finally reached parts of Howard Beach and Fort Greene.

Despite the ongoing snow woes, there was one last strange choice: A dozen fire companies were sent to a Randalls Island training session, taking them off the streets.

Gee, those training sessions seem like a great idea, Mr. Mayor.

Never know when there might be a citywide disaster that paralyzes New York for a few days.

You sure want those FDNY companies ready for that event.

Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Tweets "Heckuva Job!"

I have tried not to make any Bush/Bloomberg Katrina/Blizzard comparisons, but this story sounds like a "Heckuva job, Brownie!" tale:

As city plowing crews waged a losing battle with a raging storm Sunday night, the man in charge of the operation sent a note of praise to his guys on the street.

"Good snow work by sanitation," Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith posted to his Twitter account at 11:06 p.m. Sunday night. "Long shifts well executed and continuing."

Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis who Mayor Bloomberg brought in this year to cut costs in city government, is widely disliked by the city's unionized workforce.

As the blame game heats up in the wake of the disastrous snow clean up, many are pointing fingers at Goldsmith - and noting that he wasn't in town as the flakes started falling.

Goldsmith denied Thursday that his tweet was premature.

"I wanted to show that I appreciated their 14 hours days," he said while traveling in Queens on a four-borough tour with Mayor Bloomberg.

The tweet was meant as encouragement, he said, not a comment on state of streets.

Jason Post, a spokesman for Goldsmith, said the Deputy Mayor for Operations reported to the city's emergency command center on Monday.

Post wasn't certain where Goldsmith was at 11:06 p.m. but noted that the storm was still in its early stages at that hour.

"The bulk of the storm was overnight," Post said.

Yes, that tweet seemed a little premature considering the heaviest part of the snow was to come.

But even more disturbing than the clueless tweet is Goldsmith's refusal to say where he was on Sunday.

The mayor's allies are trying to scapegoat unionized workers for the snow disaster, but the man who is in charge of those workers was nowhere to be found during the height of the storm and didn't show up at the command center until AFTER the snow stopped.

Heckuva job indeed.


Oh, the madness of it all.

To actually criticize His Royal Highness, the Mayor of Accountability, for the Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster of 2010 - well, just how can they?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to a hardware store in the Bronx this afternoon to tout his administration's clean-up efforts regarding the blizzard that hit the city on Sunday and to express regret that in places the storm seemed to find the city unprepared.

But he had no patience for the chorus of critics—some of whom were allies, like council Speaker Christine Quinn—who have questioned his administration's readiness for this storm.

"I don't think politics has anything to do with this," he said in response to a reporter's question about the criticism. "It's trying to get the city back and making sure we have everybody working together and that we look at our procedures and see if we could have done better and if we couldn't ok, but at least if we can do better want to make sure we do it the next time. It doesn't really help anybody to get involved in this. I think maybe they don't have enough things to do if that's what they are focusing on."

It's just like the wingnuts used to say about George W during the Iraq war - how can you criticize a wartime president during his time of need?

And how can anybody criticize a wartime mayor in his time of emergency?

Shouldn't we all just come together and support this mayor so that he can do the best job possible despite all the mistakes he has made, the disastrous cost-cutting policies he has put into place and the tone deafness he has displayed throughout the mess?

At the end of the day, isn't it ALWAYS about bowing down to His Royal Highness and doing what is best for Bloomberg?

Mayor Promises To Have City Cleared By 7 AM, Daily News Says He Failed

The Mayor of Accountability STILL can't get the city streets clear:

Mission not accomplished.

Despite promises that every street in the city would be plowed by Thursday morning, the Daily News found several snowbound streets - including one where a nursing home remained cut off from help.

"We are in a state of panic," said Lori Tesoriero, an administrator at the Richard J. and Florence Zarick Pavilion in Bay Ridge.

"I have cancer patients who can't get their chemo treatments," she said. "I have lots of residents with other issues, and we're all just stranded here."

City sanitation commissioner John Doherty, in a Wednesday news conference, promised every street across the five boroughs would be plowed by 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

A News spot check in Brooklyn, perhaps the borough hit worst by the blizzard, showed the effort wasn't completely successful.

In addition to the stretch of Ovington Ave. between Fourth and Fifth Aves. where the nursing home sits, 70th St. between 8th Ave. and Fort Hamilton Parkway remained snow covered.

"To get to work I had to walk two blocks and take a car service," griped resident Donna Carretta, 52. "The garbage is piling up. It's disgusting."

And a still-stranded FedEx truck on 93rd St. between Third and Fourth Aves. kept plows from clearing the snow three days after the last flakes fell.

"This is a city full of idiots," said Natalie Nazarenko, 42, whose still can't get her car off the block. "These trucks need to be towed away. ... I've lived in New York for 15 years, and this is the first time I've seen this kind of crap."

As further proof that the roads were unplowed, NBC's "Today" show broadcast live from a snowy Brooklyn block where parked cars were still buried in snow.

People take too many chemo treatments anyway.

Stop with the chemo treatments and go take in a Broadway show.

Murdoch Post Shills Rumors

Not a surprise that the Murdoch Post has backed off its criticism of Bloomberg for the Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster of 2010 and begun criticizing the people who are REALLY at fault - unionized government workers.

Of course, these are just rumors about the alleged slowdown by workers angry over budget cuts at the sanitation agency.

But rumors are good enough for the Murdoch Post, which ran the story on the front page of its website.

This will be the strategy of the Bloomberg administration going forward - blame the mess not on the lack of planning foresight of the administration, not on cost-cutting, not on the refusal of Bloomberg to declare a snow emergency.

Nope - blame it on the unions.

And of course the usual media shills will be there to hawk this - starting with the Murdoch Post and the Murdoch Street Journal.

So far, Bloomberg is himself denying that a work slowdown was behind the slow snow removal, and relying on allies like Dan Halloran and the Murdoch media empire to spread the rumors.

And the sanitation workers themselves say the rumors are NOT true:

Sanitation workers - usually hailed as the heroes of snow removal - found themselves the subject of some ugly rumors about work slowdowns and job actions.

That infuriated Harry Nespoli, head of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, which represents rank and file workers.

"Our people are out there on 14-hour shifts," said Nespoli, who went to City Hall yesterday to clear the air with Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. "You don't do a job action and put your workforce to work. We're going to get through this thing."


On its website, the Sanitation Officers Association has this to say about Goldsmith:

"Although it may be hard to comprehend, this one individual in a futile attempt to save money will be spending more this winter and risking lives unnecessarily."

One sanitation supervisor said any blame for the cleanup rests on the shoulders of the city and not workers.

"They were so unprepared for this storm," said the supervisor. "They were scrambling like crazy on Christmas Day calling people and trying to get them to come in."

But Nespoli said that was not the problem."The manpower was in place," he said. "At 7 a.m. Sunday morning, we had half the force in."

But Nespoli admitted morale was low among workers and supervisors alike.

"When you start doing things like demoting people, it's not the right thing to do," he said

Whether or not the work slowdown is true (and remember that as of now, these are UNSUBSTANTIATED rumors DENIED by the sanitation workers and hawked by a Republican ally of Bloomberg), the real blame for this mess lies with Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who had it within their power to declare a snow emergency, get all vehicles off the main roads, get buses off the roads and make sure the city was clear for emergency vehicles and snow plows.

Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster Result Of Privatization, Cost-Cutting Policies

Juan Gonzalez says the Bloomberg Blizzard disaster of 2010 was a DIRECT result of Bloomberg's privatization policies:

City Hall's bungled response to the Blizzard of 2010 started at the top.

Any probe of what went wrong must first examine the key decisions Mayor Bloomberg and his new deputy mayor for operations, Stephen Goldsmith, made in the weeks and hours leading up to Sunday.

After all, our police, sanitation, fire and EMS workers have always performed admirably in previous storms.

And no one supervises snow removal better than Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, a guy who actually rose through the ranks of his department.

So what was different this time?

Poor management, plain and simple.

It starts with Goldsmith, the hotshot former mayor of Indianapolis who made a name for himself as a "reinventor" of government. His big secret was laying off gobs of city workers and privatizing every service he could.

Bloomberg named Goldsmith his top deputy in April and has handed him enormous power to do the same thing here.

The blizzard was the new deputy's first big test - and he flunked.

To begin with, Goldsmith and Bloomberg refused to declare a snow emergency, even after they learned a blizzard was on the way.

"I started getting text messages from ambulance drivers at 3 a.m. Monday that they were stuck in the snow," said Pat Bahnken, president of the EMS workers' union. "I urged the Fire Department to declare a snow emergency, but they were told City Hall said 'no.'"

Back in 1996, a similar monster storm struck our city. It dumped 20 inches, closed airports, and left drifts 20-feet high.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani not only declared a snow emergency and ordered all nonessential vehicles off the road, he took 3,300 city buses out of service so they wouldn't block sanitation trucks and rescue vehicles.

Giuliani also asked then-Gov. George Pataki for help. Pataki dispatched 400 national guardsmen with 100 Humvees that were used as ambulances to transport medical supplies and health workers.

If Bloomberg and Goldsmith had done the same, we wouldn't have had hundreds of stuck buses and ambulances blocking main arteries.

"Under Rudy, every snowstorm was considered a big deal," one former Giuliani official said. "All commissioners and top staffers were expected to be at the command center and we all worked hard together."

This time, Goldsmith was out of town and didn't even show up at the command center until Monday. A City Hall spokesman wouldn't say where he was.

"He was in regular email and phone contact with Doherty and "[Office of Emergency Management Director Joseph] Bruno," mayoral spokesman Jason Post said.

The Sanitation Department has been Goldsmith's special target since he arrived in town.

"He micromanages everything in this department," is how one official put it.

Goldsmith is determined to cut the number of sanitation workers and use more private contractors for snow removal - something Doherty has resisted.

The staff reductions and the deputy mayor's scheduled demotion of 100 sanitation supervisors in January - putting them back in sanitation trucks and cutting the pay of many of them - has led to growing tension and made Goldsmith a hated figure in the department.

Those supervisors normally check that city trucks and private contractors do their routes properly. In some cases, some angry workers appear to have slowed down their work during the storm.

City Hall appeared yesterday to recognize the problem and may be backtracking on some of those demotions, several sources say.

So if you want to know what went wrong, start at the top.

There you go - the cost-cutting/privatization policies that Bloomberg promotes as the solution for all that ills the country laid the groundwork for the disastrous response to the storm - fewer workers on the streets due to layoffs, fewer supervisors to supervise the workers on the streets, more untrained workers manning the snow plows (and plowing into parked cars, stalled buses and other snow plows.)

Heckuva job, Bloomberg!

And this Stephen Goldsmith character - well, his hiring is DIRECTLY related to the mayor's never-ending flirtations with running for president.

Goldsmith - the former Republican mayor of Indianapolis who made his bones laying off municipal workers and replacing them with outside private contractors - was brought into the Bloomberg administration for the third term in order to give Bloomberg some juice with Republicans outside of New York who might look suspiciously at Bloomberg when he ran for president in 2012.

He was also brought in to cut costs in city government, especially those costs related to labor.

This glowing Adam Lisberg profile of Goldsmith that ran in the Daily News in May of 2010 details Goldsmith's cost-cutting abilities:

Stephen Goldsmith joins the administration full-time Tuesday as deputy mayor for operations, after a month in which he toured city agencies and met with commissioners while winding up his work as a Harvard professor of government.

He has brought energy, experience and plenty of questions, according to several administration officials who met with him over the last month - and all came away impressed.

"He had something smart to say about every division," one official said. "He either challenged us to see something anew, or asked a really intelligent question or just made a really on-point observation."

That's a pleasant surprise for people inside and outside City Hall who assumed Bloomberg would quietly cruise through his third term - and who thought nobody could run the city as well as Goldsmith's predecessor, Ed Skyler.

Goldsmith made his name as an innovator as Indianapolis' mayor from 1992 to 1999, most famously by hiring private companies to pick up trash and treat sewage instead of using city workers.

Now he's going to run New York's police, fire, transportation, sanitation, buildings and environmental protection departments - among other agencies.

Goldsmith's emphasis in Indiana on using technology to cut costs and eliminate bureaucracy is music to Bloomberg's ears.

It's also a wakeup call to anyone in government who expected to coast through the next four years.

So Goldsmith's "innovative ideas" for privatization and cost-cutting are being applied to every city agency. What exactly did he do to the sanitation department?

Here is the NY Daily News from November 10, 2010 on Goldsmith's cost-cutting strategies for the sanitation department:

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services is one of those municipal agencies with a low profile but a massive portfolio.

It handles purchasing for city agencies, oversees leasing and sales of city-owned property and administers Civil Service exams.

And that's why city workers should pay close attention to what Mayor Bloomberg said this week when he appointed Edna Wells Handy as the new commissioner of DCAS.

He talked about the "simplicity initiative" that Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith is overseeing to make "key city operations more efficient and more effective."

"My charge to Commissioner Handy is very straightforward - search for new ways to do more with less," Bloomberg said. "Don't be afraid to take risks and seize opportunities to take innovative new approaches."

One of those new approaches being touted by City Hall involves a plan to demote 100 sanitation supervisors as a way to fill the depleted ranks of sanitation workers.

That plan, which could kick in by the end of the year, has hit a glitch. Turns out the more senior of the demoted sanitation supervisors stand to lose that seniority, bumping them to the bottom of the department roster.

That means employees who spent several years as a sanitation worker and then became supervisors will find themselves lower on the totem pole than newly hired sanitation workers.

Bloomberg defended the plan, saying it will prevent layoffs in the department.

"The sanitation effort is being executed and will accomplish this win for the taxpayers without having anybody lose their job," Goldsmith said during a City Hall press conference with Bloomberg and Handy. "We're examining where this model may work elsewhere."

Goldsmith dismissed published reports saying city officials were thinking of trying the same demotion strategy with police sergeants.

"We're interested in expanding it," Goldsmith said, adding there is "no specific place" they are targeting at the current time.

Bloomberg and Goldsmith have said they want to push the boundaries of what can be done to change the city's workforce under current Civil Service and contract guidelines.

This demotion strategy devised by Bloomberg and Goldsmith was a key cause of the disastrous response to the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2012.

Now if you think Goldsmith is done cost-cutting in his job as deputy mayor, you'd be wrong.

Bloomberg bragged earlier this year that Goldsmith had found $500 million in savings already as deputy mayor and was going to find even more ways to reduce city expenditures and Goldsmith said of his cost-cutting efforts:

"The quality of customer service can go up at the same time we save taxpayer dollars."

Gee - the quality of service at the sanitation department really went up after that cost-cutting demotion strategy of yours, Mr. Goldsmith.

Oh, wait - it didn't.

Your strategy actually led to the deaths of people during the storm, including a new-born baby.

There needs to be an investigation into Goldsmith's cost-cutting actions at EVERY city agency.

The cost-cutting ideas he had for the sanitation department have turned out to be a disaster.

How much do you want to make a bet that the cost-cutting ideas this Republican conservative from Indianapolis has had for other agencies have also been disastrous?

Next, Goldsmith needs to explain WHERE HE WAS DURING THE STORM.

While the cost-cutting policies he put in place were bringing the city to its knees, Goldsmith was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps he was off at Disneyworld with Chris Christie?

Maybe he was hiking the old Appalachian Trail with Mark Sanford?

Dunno exactly, but Goldsmith needs to explain.

Next, Goldsmith needs to be fired, but before that happens, he needs to explain to all of the New Yorkers who lost loved ones as a result of his cost-cutting policies why saving city money is more important than making sure essential emergency services are funded.

Lastly, people ought to sue Goldsmith personally for negligence. Throw Bloomberg into the suit too, but destroying Goldsmith financially ought to be the goal.

Until cost-cutting technocrats who care little for humans like Bloomberg and Goldsmith are made to pay personally for the disasters they bring, these things are going to continue.

The Mayor of Accountability and his cost-cutting deputy mayor from Indianapolis will try and hang this disaster on city workers and perhaps sanitation department chief Doherty.

But the blame and responsibility lies DIRECTLY with Bloomberg and Goldsmith.

Time to hold these two accountable.

NY Times: Bloomberg Didn't Take Storm Seriously

The post mortems on the Bloomberg Blizzard have started and the NY Times finds that Bloomberg did not take the storm seriously:

At 3:58 a.m. on Christmas morning, the National Weather Service upgraded its alert about the snow headed to New York City, issuing a winter storm watch. By 3:55 p.m., it had declared a formal blizzard warning, a rare degree of alarm. But city officials opted not to declare a snow emergency — a significant mobilization that would have, among other things, aided initial snow plowing efforts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority entered the holiday weekend with modest concerns about the weather. On Friday, it issued its lowest-level warning to subway and bus workers. Indeed, it was not until late Sunday morning, hours after snow had begun to fall, that the agency went to a full alert, rushing to call in additional crew members and emergency workers. Over the next 48 hours, subways lost power on frozen tracks and hundreds of buses wound up stuck in snow-filled streets.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, several inches of snow had accumulated when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made a plea for help at his first news conference about the escalating storm: he asked people with heavy equipment and other kinds of towing machinery to call the city’s 311 line to register for work. A full day had gone by since the blizzard warning had been issued.


The storm, if it exposed shortcomings in the city’s emergency response system, did not take it by surprise.

The National Weather Service began issuing its first hazardous-weather outlooks for the city on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The alarm was modest, the sense of certainty elusive.

But by Friday, the service was forecasting a 30 to 40 percent chance of six inches or more of snow, most likely north and east of the city, accompanied by wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, from Sunday afternoon into Monday.

“However,” it cautioned, “a storm track only about 100 miles west of the expected track could bring a significant wind-driven snowfall to the entire region.”

Over the next 24 hours, that likelihood grew, and an hour or so before dawn on Christmas, the Weather Service upgraded the notification to a winter storm watch, which called for six to eight inches of snow and strong, gusty winds for the city and the surrounding region.

City officials maintain that they were closely monitoring the updates. But the deputy mayor in charge of overseeing the snow response, Stephen Goldsmith, had left New York for Washington. A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg insisted that Mr. Goldsmith was in regular communication with agency chiefs: Mr. Doherty, the sanitation commissioner; Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner; and Joseph F. Bruno, the head of the Office of Emergency Management.

Those officials soon had more information about the storm, and a major decision to make.

At 3:55 p.m. on Saturday, the Weather Service issued a blizzard warning, forecasting 11 to 16 inches of snow, with higher amounts in some areas. It warned that strong winds would cause “considerable blowing and drifting of snow” that could take down power lines and tree limbs.

“Extremely dangerous travel conditions developing due to significant snow accumulations,” it said.

The city has long had a weapon in its arsenal to consider for such moments: the ability to declare a snow emergency.

Doing so allows the city to ban vehicles from parking on more than 300 designated “snow emergency streets.” Vehicles that remain after the declaration can be ticketed or towed. And any vehicles moving on those streets must use chains or snow tires.

The rationale is straightforward: clearing vehicles from those streets gives plows the best chance to move through them rapidly, keeping emergency services routes open and allowing the plows to move onto secondary streets.

Norman Steisel, who was at the forefront of snow removal in the city for a dozen years during the Koch and Dinkins administrations, said the declaration of an emergency from a mayor also helped clarify among the public the confusing array of forecasts often heard on television.

“It’s a very strong, powerful public message which has a certain effect,” Mr. Steisel said.

Jerome M. Hauer, who spent four years as the city’s emergency management commissioner under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, said he advised the mayor on whether to declare a snow emergency based on forecasts from the Weather Service and other sources.

There were no hard and fast rules, Mr. Hauer said, but anything above six or seven inches would start “to create problems for the city, so it was clear you’d have to start thinking it was time to declare a snow emergency.”

Both current and former city officials had difficulty recalling how many times such an emergency had been declared. One current official said the last one had been declared in 2003.

Still, Mr. Hauer asserted, “if they said we were getting a blizzard, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

But the Bloomberg administration decided not to call a snow emergency. One city official briefed on the response to the storm said it was explicitly considered. But ultimately Mr. Doherty and Ms. Sadik-Khan decided against it, said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for Ms. Sadik-Khan.

Mr. Solomonow said the forecast was not severe enough.

“As of about 5 p.m. on Christmas Day,” he said, “the forecast called for about a foot of accumulation, which is not uncommon and which is not a basis for a snow emergency declaration.”

Mr. Bloomberg, asked Tuesday why an emergency had not been declared, confused the issue by asserting that doing so would have put more cars on the roads, potentially creating more problems. But clearly, had he declared an emergency shortly after the Weather Service’s blizzard warning, there would have been ample time to move cars before the heavy snow began.

Mr. Hauer called the decision bewildering, and Mr. Bloomberg’s claims misleading.

“We’ve done snow emergencies in the city for decades, many decades, and people have always found a place to put their cars,” said Mr. Hauer, who has had many angry disagreements with Mr. Bloomberg over the years. “You’ve just got to give them enough time.”

Bloomberg should have declared a snow emergency.

He says the forecast wasn't serious enough to warrant that call.

But the Times shows that Bloomberg had enough warning about the seriousness of the storm - a winter storm warning was called by the National Weather Service a full 31 hours before the storm and a blizzard warning was called 19 hours before the storm started.

Giuliani's emergency management commissioner says it was a no-brainer to put a snow emergency in place given the forecast.

Bloomberg, for whatever reason, decided not to.

People died because of that decision.

Now Bloomberg MUST be held accountable for those decisions and the consequences that resulted from them.

Cathie Black's On The Job Training

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries on the decision to uphold Cathie Black's state waiver to be NYC schools chancellor despite her lack of experience and education qualifications:

"The appointment of someone who appears to require on-the-job training ... will just further erode the ability of the education system to adequately prepare our children for the challenges of the 21st century."

I dunno - on-the-job training seemed to work so well during the Bloomberg Blizzard cleanup:

In an exclusive interview with NY1 later in the day, Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty admitted that the massive blizzard that swept across the city got ahead of the department and that he was forced to use workers who had less training than usual.

"They only went to school for two weeks, they usually would go for a month,” Doherty said. "I put them out there on Sunday I said ‘You’re out on the street. They said: ‘We’ve only had a couple days of driving.’ ‘ I want you in the truck with a seasoned guy, You’re going to learn on the job, real time, real conditions, get the job done.'"

Oh, wait - I guess using on-the-job trainees to plow the snow actually worked horribly.

So why does anybody think using an on-the-job trainee to deal with the school system is a good idea?

Oh, wait again - the guy who REALLY thinks this is a good idea is the same guy who said the snowstorm was no big deal and that people should go shopping and take in a Broadway show rather than complain about being stuck on the LIE for 18 hours in a snowbank.

Maybe we shouldn't give much credence to what this man thinks?

And maybe we shouldn't give much credence to the magazine publisher he put into place to run the schools?

Every decision she makes as chancellor, the refrain from the troops should be "What do you know about it? You're an on-the-job trainee."

Remember, folks, she starts this job DAMAGED.

She has no experience and no credentials for this job.

She doesn't even seem remotely interested in education.

The press has already gone after her for the stupid things she says.

The only reason we haven't heard any new Cathie Black gaffes lately is because she hasn't been visiting schools the last week.

But as soon as the spotlight goes back on her, the gaffes will continue.

She'll continue to say things like this, this, this, this, this, and this.

She can't help herself.

She is as privileged and clueless as Bloomberg himself.

So yeah, it sucks that the state supreme court backed up Bloomberg and Steiner on this, but it's not really a surprise.

These guys are politicians too.

And what politician in this state ISN'T in Bloomberg's pocket?

But let us all remember the battering Black has taken in the press already, the battering Bloomberg took for picking her, and the battering Bloomberg has taken over the Bloomberg Blizzard disaster.

Both Bloomberg and Black are vulnerable.

They can be beaten.

On school closures, on layoffs, on budget cuts, on testing and the TDR's - they can be beaten.

Let's start with Chancellor-In-Training Black on Monday.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reuters: Bloomberg Gets An "F" On His Value Added Mayor Data Report (MDR)

Bloomberg loves handing out report card grades to schools, teachers and restaurants.

Now it's time for the mayor to receive his report card grade for the handling of the Bloomberg Blizzard:

(Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent whose reputation was built on competence, may have been defeated this time by a blizzard.

Many New Yorkers, especially from the boroughs outside Manhattan, are outraged that their neighborhoods remain buried under snow two days after the storm dumped 20 inches on the city. Bloomberg, who has consistently ruled out running for the U.S. presidency despite frequent speculation about his political aspirations, is getting hit with the blame.

"This is a mayor who prided himself on his ability as a manager. If we were grading him on his response to the snowstorm, he would get an 'F,'" Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said on Wednesday.

"Bloomberg wants to run for president, yet he can't even handle getting the streets of the Bronx plowed? That is unacceptable."

The loudest complaints came from the outer boroughs -- the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island -- which were once again reminded they are secondary to Manhattan.

"This is crazy. I wasn't able to get to work for two days. My street is still unplowed today. I don't know what the deal is, but they messed up," said Matthew Limongi, a delivery driver from Queens.

Even Bloomberg's allies are critical.

"I've never seen such gross mismanagement and lack of leadership in my lifetime. People are furious," said City Councilman David Greenfield, a longtime supporter.

The clogged streets have impeded emergency response vehicles. A baby died after being delivered in the lobby of a Brooklyn apartment building when paramedics took nine hours to reach the mother.

Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire who finances his own campaigns, rarely admits mistakes but told a news conference on Wednesday that "we didn't do as good a job as we wanted to do."

The city had built a reputation for efficient snow cleanup with its fleet of trash-removal trucks fitted with snow plows that spread salt on the city's 6,000 miles of roads.

But this storm came with 65 mph winds and dumped more than an inch of snow per hour, forcing plows to repeatedly clear the major avenues before they could work on side streets.

"The storm just got ahead of us and we couldn't keep up," Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty told NY1 television.

Deaths attributed to delayed EMS responses, four+ days to clear the streets of snow, inability to see any problem with the lack of snow removal ("The world hasn't come to an end...Go shopping...go see a Broadway show..."), cars destroyed by city snow plows, hundreds of untrained sanitation workers manning plows and smashing into cars and buses - yeah, not such a value-added performance, Mr. Mayor.

Coupled with the $80 million CityTime theft, the $700 million over tally on that same project, the Cathie Black nomination and the plummeting NYC test scores in 4th-8th grades, we're just going to have to put you on the SURR list for closure.


Bloomberg Says Cathie Black Is "Ready To Hit The Ground Running"

Not a surprise - the political establishment is all in Bloomberg's pocket:

The state supreme court has upheld the waiver issued allowing media executive Cathie Black to become the city's next schools chancellor.

Critics filed a lawsuit challenging the waiver, which was needed since Black does not have any professional education experience.


In a statement, the mayor said, "This decision should bring an end to the politicking and grandstanding and allow us all to focus on what matters most: continuing to improve the quality of education we offer New York City’s public school children. Cathie has been working hard and is ready to hit the ground running on Monday, her first official day on the job, and I know she is looking forward to building on the tremendous progress we’ve made over the past eight years."

Mayor Bloomberg also praised Black saying she is ready to hit the ground running

She's ready to hit the ground running?

Great - give her a snow shovel and tell her to start shoveling snow.

Politicker NJ Writer Blasts Merit Pay, Ed Reform

Not the place I expected to see a defense of teachers and criticism of merit pay, a test-score based education system, or teaching bashing, yet there it is:

BY JOEL L. SHAIN Individuals decide to become teachers so they can make a difference in a child's life. Their incentive is not the money. Theirs is not the greed of a Gordon Gekko rogue investment banker. Rather, they desire a decent salary, benefits and the opportunity to advance. An educated professional deserves that much.

Teaching our children is a profession requiring academic preparation and continuous learning. It is not a business. Kids are not pieces of steel to be turned into identical cars. Neither are teachers single units. They are members of a team headed by a principal-coach, dedicated to improving the student as a whole person. Math, English, Science, Art, Music, Gym teachers, all must work together to make each student smarter, more curious, and a better citizen - in the end, a person designed to benefit our society as a whole.

Against this backdrop comes the hue and cry of "our schools are failing." And whom do they blame? The teachers of course, the logical scapegoats of the simple-minded. Their proferred solutions: merit pay -- ostensibly to reward good teachers and, punish bad teachers. Although a good sound bite, it makes no sense, and if effectuated will cause untold harm to a public school system that has been the backbone of our country.

The reality is that our public schools are not failing. They are doing quite well, despite being underfunded by a state government unwilling to accept its constitutional responsibility to provide a thorough and efficient system of free public schools to all children, urban and suburban; in spite of an unfair, antiquated tax scheme which seeks to fund education based on the worth of real property within a school district; and in spite of a governor who takes pride in demeaning the teaching profession and its representatives. This same governor slashed school aid by $820 million and lost $400 million of federal grant money because of a personal vendetta against that same union.

The answer is not to attack teachers and their representatives, but to support and encourage them. Teachers, present and future, must know that government recognizes the nobility and challenges of their profession and rewards them fairly.

But merit pay or pay for performance is not the solution. Not only does it foster fear and anxiety, but there are too many uncontrollable variables and pitfalls. Who decides who gets what? Is the criteria objective, i.e., standardized test, or subjective, i.e., a principal's evaluation, or a little bit of both? Do we look to short-term or long-term goals? What happens to the team concept? How are specialists, i.e., art, music and gym teahcers, graded? What about those who teach our special needs students? The work of a professional teacher is complex, multifaceted and not easily rewarded through a merit pay approach.

The use of test scores to evaluate teachers makes no sense. Not only would it encourage teachers to feature test taking skills over learning, but it is an unreliable measure. Teachers, unlike lawyers who take cases on contingency, cannot pick their clients. It is often the luck of the draw which students are assigned to a class. Also, most factors, such as parental guidance, mentors, fellow teachers, specialists and administrators and, of course, sociological and economic issues, are outside a teacher's control.

However, other types of financial incentives, such as paying accomplished teachers more to work in high poverty districts or in scarce fields like math and science, are good options. But, to focus on merit pay as a sole cure-all to improve education is misguided zealotry. If educational excellence is the goal, you don't cut, lose, and impede funding for public education and then propose merit pay as a panacea.

When some long forgotten non-educator tied educating kids to running a business, merit pay was brought to the fore. Pay for performance (merit pay) determined quantitatively, is used in business to reward short-term gains, e.g., investment banks, insurance and real estate companies. (Think Lehman Brothers, AIG, housing bubble!). In contrast, the work of a professional teacher of children is complex, multifaceted and not easily summarized by simple quantitative measures.

What is needed to improve our educational system is not a kneejerk quick fix unworkable proposal like merit pay, but a long-term, well-thought out approach to encourage bright, energetic, caring folks to become teachers, by rewarding them with decent pay and providing them with advanced educational programs to make them better. Government should become a cheerleader for this noble profession, not try to tear it down.

Joel L. Shain is an attorney and Democratic County Committeeman from Somerset.

Unfortunately the people in power -specifically Governor "I'm Going To Disneyworld!" Christie - promote the opposite polices that Mr. Shain is writing about.

In fact, as soon as Governor Christie finishes eating all that fudge he bought on Main Street at Disneyworld during his Snowmaggedon 2010 trip, he'll be back to teacher bashing.

It's hard to bash teachers when you have Disneyworld fudge in your mouth - especially the peanut butter variety.

One Thing Never Gets Delayed In Bloomberg's New York

That's fare hikes on the subways!

On top of all the mass transit problems created by the storm, riders are also facing fare hikes that take effect tomorrow.

That means today is the last day to buy an unlimited ride MetroCard at the current rates.

The price of a monthly card is rising from $89 to $104, and the weekly card is rising from $27 to $29.

Riders can also buy a one-day or 14-day unlimited card for the last time before those cards are discontinued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Straphangers will not want to wait too long to activate the new cards, as they need to swipe them by January 10 to get the full value.

Take heart, New York - all of the burnt and buried MTA buses should be off the road by the time the fare hike goes into effect.


Mayor Says He Takes Responsibility For Snow Mess, Then Blames NYers

I guess this is the closest anybody will ever get to Mike Bloomberg saying he screwed up:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg accepted responsibility Wednesday for the city’s response to a crippling snowstorm, pledging to have every street plowed by morning and then to figure out why his administration’s cleanup efforts were inadequate.

Speaking at a hardware store in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, Mr. Bloomberg said he was “extremely dissatisfied” with the performance of the city’s emergency management system. He said the response was “a lot worse” than after other recent snowstorms and was not as efficient as “the city has a right to expect.”

But he also defended his commissioners, including John J. Doherty, who runs the Sanitation Department. The mayor called him “the best sanitation commissioner this city has ever had, period, bar none.”


The mayor also spread some of the blame for the city’s problems on to its citizens, who he said had failed to heed requests that they not call for help unless they faced true emergencies. Those calls, the mayor said, “overwhelmed” the emergency communications system, a failure that he said he had assigned an official to investigate. City residents also compounded the problem by trying to drive in the storm, only to have their cars stuck in the path of plows.

“Maybe because of the Christmas weekend, a lot of people had to get home on Sunday night and got stuck,” he said.

How gracious of His Royal Highness - "I take the blame for this, but it's really your fault for not listening to me."

The Mayor of Accountability just can't hold himself or anybody at the top of his administration accountable, can he?

That's why it is now incumbent upon the city council, the public advocate, the press, the blogosphere and citizens of New York to hold this imperious jerk accountable for not only the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2010 disaster, but for all the other disasters he has brought us - from CityTime to the NYCDOE reorganizations to his "Bloomberg First" education reforms.

R.I.P. December 26-29, 2010: Bloomberg's Presidential Ambitions?

For the past few months, we have been inundated with newspaper and TV stories about Mayor Bloomberg running for president in 2012. Bloomberg coyly says no, he's not running, but then he gives major policy speeches on the Brooklyn waterfront with Wall Street in the background and offers ideas for how he would run the country, the economy, foreign policy.

Sure you're not running, Mike.

That's why you took $300 million out of your savings account, getting ready to drop it into the 2012 presidential campaign like snowflakes during a December blizzard.

That's why you hired two news flacks to write op-ed pieces at Bloomberg News so that you would have a voice in the national discussion on politics and the economy.

That's why you hired Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's former campaign aide during her '08 run for the White House, to be your director of communications.

That's why you appear on Meet The Press and other national political shows and have your political people feed shill columnists like Broder and Brooks column ideas about the new non-partisan "No Labels" party.

Sure you're not running.

Well, Bloomberg may still want to run for president in 2012, but that dream died a hard death this week during the "Bloomberg Blizzard," as one city councilman dubbed it.

When the newspapers detail the number of people who were hurt or killed by the city's lack of preparation for the storm and inability to deal with the aftermath, when you have old ladies on TV shoveling snow from their street and looking into to the camera to spit out "Shame on you, Bloomberg!", you can be pretty sure whatever chances Bloomberg had of winning some votes in 2012 as a "competent manager type" are gone.

Here's how the Daily News put it:

Mike for President? Ha!

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said city residents outside Manhattan scoffed at Bloomberg's vaunted management skills. "He wants to run for President? Can you imagine a national catastrophe or crisis if hecan't even plow the streets ofthe Bronx?" Diaz said.

Indeed - between the Cathie Black mess, the CityTime scandal, and now the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2012, I think we can safely say that Mayor Bloomberg faces an uphill run for president in 2012.

And on the uphill run, he'll have to face 2 feet of snow, a burning bus stuck in snow, some parked cars destroyed by NYC snow plows, and an angry mob of New Yorkers who want to run Bloomberg out of town.

Make no mistake - when you have as much money as Bloomberg has and enough shills in the press on the Bloomberg payroll to build a thirty story igloo, Bloomberg shouldn't be completely counted out of anything, including making a comeback as mayor.

Indeed, one can make a case that if the city faced another catastrophe or terrorist attack and Bloomberg accorded himself well, these snowstorm memories would fade.

Nonetheless, as of today, December 29, 2010, I think we can officially declare Bloomberg's hopes of running for president in 2012 on life support.

Bloomberg had better hope that the EMS team called to resuscitate those hopes has streets cleared of burning buses, stalled cars and smashed snow plows.

Education Reformer Slams Booker, Defends Christie

Here in New Jersey, our governor, the Governor of Accountability and Youtube, is vacationing in sunny Florida with Minnie, Mickey and his family while the state is dealing with Snowmageddon 2010.

The newspapers report Christie hasn't even called to find out how things are going, although Christie's staff say they have been in constant contact with officials in N.J.

Contrast how Christie has dealt with (or not dealt with) Snowmageddon 2010 with how Newark Mayor Cory Booker has handled the mess.

Having laid off 13% of the police force and garnered some real anger from constituents over budget cuts, Booker used to the opportunity the storm afforded to help people dig out of the snow. He even took requests by Twitter. And of course he got plenty of photo ops of himself with constituents in the snow.

Say what you will about political opportunism, that was a pretty smart move on Booker's part, not such a smart move on Christie's part.

But here is an interesting thing - an ed deformer has come to the aid of Christie for staying on vacation with his family during Snowmageddon 2010 and criticized Booker for helping dig people out of the snow:

Jeanne Allen President, Center for Education Reform:

If you've ever lived (or known others who have) in the Northeast, you'll know that unlike Washington, they do not think of snow as a major disaster. On the contrary, it gets plowed, shoveled, plowed again and for the most part, those paid to do the job of making the roads safe do it really, really well.

This isn't a hurricane, or a foreign policy disaster. This is snow. Gov. Chris Christie is not on summer vacation, he's on Christmas vacation and where we come from (I, too, hail from NJ) it's a pretty serious deal, that starts with a high Holy Day and ends with lots of time reconnecting with the family you've probably neglected in months past. That Christie chooses to do that in Disney world with his young family while the state Senate president -- whose kids are long gone -- remains behind, is a testament to his character, not a political mishap.

Cory Booker's tweets have been obnoxious. Would that he'd tweet that much about what the governor is doing on changing state policy to help him dig out of a failing education system that has yet to see a turn around since he began (despite promises and speeches to the contrary).

Uh, Ms. Allen, people died in New York City because of the inability of emergency services to get to people needing them. This storm most certainly WAS a major disaster for many people in many places - especially those who lost loved ones or who almost lost loved ones for lack of emergency response.

New Jersey actually got more snow than New York did and many places were under two-and-a-half feet of snow. Sure, Booker was expedient in his snow photo ops, and no, no one is asking Chris Christie to dig voters out of the snow (he' probably have a heart attack and need his own EMS truck to take him to the hospital), but Governor Christie could have at least gotten off the Space Mountain ride in time to actually call N.J. officials himself and ask how things are going.

What does it say about the ed deform movement that the same tone deafness that Bloomberg exhibited a few days ago over the storm ("Go shopping...go to a Broadway play...) has been exhibited by a member of a major ed deform organization?

You know what I think it says?

It says people in the ed deform movement don't give a shit about human beings, they only care about their free market/ed deform ideologies.

Dunno why the ed deformer is slamming Booker, since he's squarely on the same page as the rest of the deform movement - yet she did.

Perhaps the ed deform movement has decided Christie is their 2012 ticket to ed deform nirvana and are sad that he provided his political opposition with great political advertising material.

Bloomberg Blames New Yorkers For Snow Mess

It's not his fault, it's your fault:

“People didn’t listen and leave their cars at home. I know if you live in a place where you don’t have mass transit, it’s not easy to do that. But this storm showed that when you go out on this kind of weather, chances are you’re going to get stuck in the side streets and have to leave your car,” said Bloomberg.

Right - because mass transit was working so well.

But the Daily News said it all when it comes to Bloomberg blaming others for this mess:

Blood On His Hands

The toll from Bloomberg's Snowmageddon 2010 mounts:

A woman with stroke symptoms in Midwood, Brooklyn, waited for an ambulance for six hours, finally arriving at the hospital with telltale signs of advanced brain damage. In Forest Hills, Queens, bystanders waited for three hours next to a man lying unconscious in the snow before they were able to flag down help. And in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a mother in labor who started calling 911 at 8:30 a.m. on Monday did not get an ambulance until 6 p.m., too late to save the baby.

As a blizzard bore down on New York City Sunday and Monday, 911 dispatchers fielded tens of thousands of calls, trying to triage them by level of severity, from snowed-in cars at the low end, to life-threatening emergencies at the highest. But even the ambulances assigned the most serious of the calls sometimes could not get there. At least 200 of them got stuck on unplowed streets or were blocked in by abandoned cars, city officials said Tuesday.

As the backlog of calls grew — it ultimately reached 1,300 at its highest point — an unusual directive went out across the computer screens within ambulances, emergency workers said, telling them that after 20 minutes of life-saving effort on a nonresponsive patient, they should call a supervising doctor, who would make the call about whether to give up. While it is rare for a person to be revived after 20 minutes, it is usually up to the medical crew to decide when to call the doctor.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the city’s response to the storm on Tuesday, and called the digging out of ambulances the city’s first priority. He said nearly 170 stranded ambulances had been dug out by emergency crews, with 40 more still stuck Tuesday afternoon. Still, the impassibility of many streets made routine ambulance runs into odysseys, sometimes with life-threatening or fatal consequences.

In East Midwood, volunteer ambulances managed to complete nine calls on Monday between getting stuck in drifts and between abandoned cars. One was to a 74-year-old woman on Lawrence Avenue who appeared to be having a stroke. Her home-health aide had called 911 at 9 a.m. on Monday, said Yakov Kornitzer, the chief of operations for the East Midwood Volunteer Ambulance company, and in the early afternoon, she finally ran to the local precinct station for help.

When the ambulance arrived at 3 p.m., it was unable to get closer than several blocks away. Two emergency workers, two paramedics and six police officers carried her on a stretcher through knee deep snow, but by then she was unresponsive and her limbs were already flexed, indicating serious damage to her brain tissue.

“We did the best we could,” Mr. Kornitzer said.

“If small cars wouldn’t have gotten stuck, we would have been able to get through.”

When a fire broke out five blocks from Elmhurst Hospital, emergency workers pulled patients in on sleds and toboggans, said Dario Centorcelli, a hospital spokesman. As at other hospitals, doctors and nurses stayed, sleeping on cots. At Lutheran Medical Center, a registered nurse and an orthopedic technician spent the day Monday driving around Brooklyn in a Hummer, to ferry exhausted staff members back and forth.

In Forest Hills, one volunteer ambulance partnered with a four-wheel-drive Suburban to patrol streets. About 2 a.m., they were flagged down on Queens Boulevard and 62nd Road, where bystanders said they had called 911 three hours earlier for a man lying face up in the snow.

He was unconscious but still alive, suffering from severe hypothermia, said Ron Cohen, the public information officer for the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The emergency workers carried him about a block to the vehicle, and he made it to the hospital alive. “I think a short time longer and he may not have been,” Mr. Cohen said.

Patrick Bahnken, the president of the Uniformed E.M.T.s, Paramedics and Inspectors union was quite angry about the condition of the streets. He said some ambulances had been stranded for more than 24 hours.

“My people have been sitting in an ice box for more than a day and they are just being left there?” he said. “We have fresh crews waiting at battalions and we can’t get to them because the ambulances are stuck.”

And while emergency workers strained to do what they could, in at least one case, it was not enough.

Fire Department officials said they received a 911 call at 8:30 a.m. on Monday from a woman in labor in Crown Heights. But because her birth was not imminent, she was assigned a non-emergency status. Dispatchers tried to call back several times in the next few hours to check on the woman, but got no response, the Fire Department said.

At 4:30 p.m., a second call came in, saying there was bleeding and the baby was crowning. Police arrived first, after walking several blocks to the building.

Satomi Okinura, 34, a nurse who lives there, said she saw five or six police officers in the building vestibule, surrounding a woman swathed in blankets.

The baby was laid out on blankets and was not breathing. The umbilical cord was still attached. "We were all in a panic,” she said.

The baby did not survive.

Hospital personnel pulling patients into the hospital on sleds and toboggans?

Somebody in an earlier comment thread said this isn't a Third World city.

Boy, that sure sounds Third World to me.

Heckuva job, Bloomberg!

Heckuva job.

UPDATE: The Daily News details more people injured or killed by the lack of 911 response during the snowstorm aftermath.

- In Queens, a woman tried to reach 911 operators for 20 minutes Monday and then waited for three hours for first responders to arrive. By then, her mom had died, state Sen. Jose Peralta's office said.

Laura Freeman, 41, said her mother, Yvonne Freeman, 75, woke her at 8 a.m. because she was having trouble breathing. When the daughter couldn't get through to 911, she enlisted neighbors and relatives, who also began calling.

One of the callers reached an operator at 8:20 a.m., but responders stymied by snow-clogged streets didn't reach the Corona home until 11:05 a.m., said Peralta, who wants the death investigated.

"The EMS workers walked down the block trudging through snow," Freeman said. "They tried. I could tell by the look on their faces. I really would just like [Mayor] Bloomberg to admit that there were casualties."

- A woman in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was forced to spend the night with her dead father after the medical examiner's office took more than 24 hours to claim his body. Ismael Vazquez died at 10:31 a.m. on Monday, and the 82-year-old man's body remained in his bed until 1 p.m. yesterday. His daughter kept vigil in the living room.

"This is New York City, and I'm a New Yorker, and this is not the first storm we've ever had," said Florence Simancas, 51, holding back tears. "Somebody dropped the ball ... big-time."

- A Brooklyn woman was left sobbing at a Bay Ridge bus stop yesterday when the driver said there was no way to get her to a doctor's appointment in Bensonhurst.

"Please help. I have a doctor's appointment that is important and I can't get nowhere," 64-year-old Ludmila Kowalow said. "I don't know what to do," she added, throwing her hands in the air.

- A 76-year-old Bay Ridge heart attack victim nearly died when an FDNY ambulance became stuck in a snowbank, but he was rescued by a gang of good Samaritans lugging him through the unplowed streets on a sled fashioned from a gurney.

"My husband could be dead right now," said Lucy Pastore, whose husband, Salvatore, was in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center. "The mayor acts like this is a minor inconvenience. Makes me sick."

Indeed - the mayor told people to deal with it, go shopping, take in a Broadway play.

Makes me sick too.

Chris Christie's Going To Disneyworld

Most of the day yesterday, the Mayor of Accountability in NYC was under attack for his inability to get New York plowed.

Many streets were still unplowed, hundreds of buses still stuck in snow and Bloomberg was petulant as hell when called to account for his inability to get the city cleared of snow and the transit system up and running.

Not a good day for the mayor, perhaps one that will put a final sharpened snow shovel into the heart of his presidential ambitions (more on that later), but I'll say one thing for Bloomberg - at least he was on site, doing his job.

Unlike the Governor of Accountability in New Jersey, who was hiking the old Appalachian Trail in Disneyworld:

New Jersey is buried after an epic snowstorm. And Gov. Chris Christie Disneyworld.

Critics are blasting the Republican governor's decision to remain on his Sunshine State vacation while New Jersey residents grapple with the aftermath of a devastating blizzard.

To make matters worse, Christie's Lieutant Governor Kim Guadagno is vacationing in Mexico, leaving Senate President Stephen Sweeny -- a Democrat -- in charge.

"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," New Jersey Democrat Sen. Raymond Lesniak told New Jersey's Star Ledger. "It's being handled very well by Sen. Sweeney, but you have to really question the purpose of the office."
Guadagno is the state's first lieutenant governor. She was in Mexico when the blizzard hit.

Christie left for vacation on Sunday -- the same day Sweeney declared a state of emergency in New Jersey -- with his wife and four children. He is expected to return on Thursday.

Calls and e-mails to Christie's office were not immediately returned.

The governor's spokeswoman, Maria Comella, told Politico that "snow in the northeast happens often," and that the response to the snow is being handled by the acting governor, secretary of transportation, state police and the governor's staff. "And like every other day, the governor was and continues to be in regular contact with his staff and cabinet officers," she added.

New Jersey politicians aren't the only ones being slammed for their response to the cleanup. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was criticized over the city's snow-removal efforts. When asked during a tense news conference Tuesday if he regretted the city's response, the mayor sarcastically responded, "I regret everything in the world."

Steve Benen, of The Washington Monthly, wrote that although recovery is going fine in New Jersey, Christie -- whose name has been floated in the 2012 presidential race -- could be making a political mistake by staying in Florida.

"When it comes to keeping up appearances, this doesn't look great for the New Jersey governor," Benen said. "The vacation scheduling was clearly a mistake; Christie bolted even after being told about the impending blizzard; he's making no effort to cut short his trip; and Democratic officials are doing all the heavy lifting (sometimes literally) while the governor enjoys some fun in the sun."

You can be sure if a Democratic governor pulled the same stunt, hanging with Mickey and Minnie at the Country Bear Jamboree rather than leading the state's recovery from the snowstorm, Christie and state Republicans would be all over the Dem.

But when it's a Republican governor - in fact, when it is THE Republican governor, the guy everybody likes to write about as the future of the Republican Party - abdicating his duty as chief executive to eat fudge on Main Street at Disneyworld, it's amazing how quiet Christie's office gets with the emails and Youtube videos.

As I wrote in an earlier post, the old saying used to be "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

But Chris Christie has amended that statement: "When the going gets tough, Chris Christie takes his family to Disneyworld and doesn't return phone calls!"

Heckuva job, governor!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cuts To The Workforce

400 fewer sanitation workers from two years ago.

There was a larger snowfall in February 2006 than the one that fell this week.

The snow removal back then went fine.

400 fewer workers this year, not so great with the removal:

New York City's response to the blizzard has been hampered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to reduce the Sanitation Department's workforce as part of citywide budget cuts, the head of the sanitation workers' union charged Monday.

"We are undermanned—we need another 400" workers, Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, said in a telephone interview. "This is a perfect example of why you need the manpower in New York City. We're shorthanded here."

Jason Post, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, confirmed that there are 400 fewer workers at the department than two years ago, but insisted the city's snow-fighting force has not been diminished.

"The number of people assigned to snow fighting is the same," Mr. Post said. "How? Other staff normally working in administrative positions have been reassigned to field posts."


Still, the city on Sunday announced it was seeking to hire private heavy-duty equipment to assist the sanitation department with snow removal. It is also seeking "licensed operators of dump trucks, tractor trailers, and roll-on roll-off trucks," the department said in a statement.

Mr. Nespoli praised the workforce, saying the workers are doing a yeoman's job. But he said the staff reductions have nevertheless taken a toll.

"Whenever you cut your workforce down, it's going to hurt services," Mr. Nespoli said. "Guys are retiring, and they have to replace these people. You can't allow a city like New York not to have the services that the public's used to," he said. "This is a major blizzard."

To combat multibillion dollar deficits, Mr. Bloomberg has been aggressively cutting city agency budgets to keep the books balanced. He unveiled last month his latest round of budget cuts, which called for a further reduction—via attrition—of 265 sanitation workers by June 2012.

As for the reassigned sanitation employees who got put onto snow removal duty with little training, NY 1 reports just how little training they actually received:

“The biggest problem's we're not getting the tow trucks we need. We hired equipment, which we normally do. They’re not coming in,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. “We have cars in there, we have to dig them out. We can’t get through the street, and that’s what’s impeding the whole operation in many ways.”

In an exclusive interview with NY1 later in the day, Doherty admitted that the massive blizzard that swept across the city got ahead of the department and that he was forced to use workers who had less training than usual.

"They only went to school for two weeks, they usually would go for a month,” Doherty said. "I put them out there on Sunday I said ‘You’re out on the street. They said: ‘We’ve only had a couple days of driving.’ ‘ I want you in the truck with a seasoned guy, You’re going to learn on the job, real time, real conditions, get the job done.'"

Maybe Bloomberg can just outsource the whole thing to the CityTime folks?

Or maybe he already has?

Just wait until additional layoffs to the city workforce come in June and at the end of 2011 as are expected.

Snowmageddon 2010 may spread to the schools, fire houses and police precincts.

But at least the budget will be balanced without Bloomberg having to raise taxes on hedge fund managers.

And at the end of the day, isn't that what really matters?

Will The MTA Have All The Snow-Stranded Buses Unstuck In Time For Thursday's Fare Hike?

Oh, yes, the MTA fare hike comes this week.

Ironic that the snowstorm reminded people of how shitty the system and the service is in the same week that the MTA is raising the fares for a third time in three years.

One might say that the universe has a sense of humor about stuff like this.

Certainly it has been a heckuva week here in NYC.

Some people say this is the worst handling of a NYC snowstorm in over a generation:

New Yorkers who have not been able to leave their block since Sunday are growing more frustrated as their streets remain clogged with snow.

“This is impossible,” one Bergen Beach resident said. ”I’ve lived on this street for 24 years and never, ever, ever were we not plowed. We’re really frustrated no one on the block, no one in the neighborhood could move.”

“In Brooklyn, we are stranded, we can’t get to work, the buses aren’t running, the L train isn’t running and the streets have not been cleaned, not been plowed at all,” a Brownsville resident said.

Well, now you've experienced not being plowed, Bergen Beach resident.

Of course if you lived in Mayor's Bloomberg's neighborhood, you would have been plowed already.

And if you lived in Newark, Mayor Cory Booker might have come over and dug you out himself.

But here in NYC, unless you live in Bloomberg's neighborhood, he really doesn't give a shit about you. In fact, Bloomberg and his administration say it's your fault for not digging yourself out and then disposing of the snow properly - in Florida:

If people dig out and they don’t pile the snow in the street again when they dig their car out of their driveway, it’s going to go quicker. But if they continue to throw it out into the street, we have to go back there to clear that street, and consequently we don’t get to that tertiary street or that dead end street that we’re trying to clear out,” said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

There you go, Bergen Beach resident - it's your fault, you lazy, stupid bastard.

Keith Olbermann: Bloomberg Is "Condescension Personified"

Keith on Twitter:

NYC littered w/abandoned City buses and Bloomberg is bitching about people not shoveling their sidewalks. Condescension personified.

Other comments:

Walking from 86th Subway to the Met I saw three stuck buses, 5 stuck NYC Cabs and numerous other snowed in vehicles.

120 ambulances stuck in snow, 3 hour EMS wait for critical calls, no Snow Emergency ever declared, per WCBS-TV

5th Ave, Park Slope is a disaster. 3 tractor-trailers, 3 plows & 4 buses r all stuck. One bus is partially on the sidewalk.

At 6 PM local NYC newscasts were largely "gee whiz, lotta snow." At 11 PM they are kicking the snot out of City, Mayor, Transit

And my personal favorite:

The good news? They finally dragged off the burned-out bus. Oh and the Yankees signed J.T. Snow

Yeah, it's good when they finally drag off the burned out buses.

Cory Booker Shovels Snow, Bloomberg Gets Sarcastic

I'm not a huge fan of Cory Booker, but I have to say, after laying off 13% of the Newark police force and forcing city employees to bring their own toilet paper to work, he sure knows how to get some good, free press:

You know what would be nice? If we had a Mayor who, instead of telling us to stop our complaining as he frolics down his completely plowed street, picked up a shovel and lent a hand? Maybe we should move to Newark, because that's just what Mayor Cory Booker has been doing. Armed with Twitter, he's been taking requests, and recently announced to Rookie2Veteran "I am here now to help" not an hour after he wrote for help. However, Rookie (T. Bonds) doesn't think that Booker did a great job, and now the war of words is on.

If T. Bonds wanted Booker's help he certainly didn't act like it, writing, "I fuck around & get arrested if cory booker come here wit a fuckin shovel," but said, "#corybooker just called and said he comin thru #pause ...he on avon & stratford now...we will see." Once Booker arrived, Bonds quickly told the rest of the Twitter community that Booker "wasn't doin nuttin but chit chat...they was shovelin shit I shoveled already," and almost seemed jealous when he wrote, "This nigga talkin more than he shovel...da mother thinks he's martin da way she laughin at every joke." He finally stepped up to the mayor himself, writing, "I did everything before u came...I kno u had to see my path."

But Booker called him out on his shoveling work, writing, "Wow u shud b ashamed of yourself. U tweet vulgarities & then I come out here to help & its ur mom & sis digging. Where r u?" As if that weren't enough of a smackdown, Bonds said, "Cory booker really a mayor tho cuz he ratted on me to my moms mom said 'TaJuan I'm embarrassed.'" Seriously Bonds, all Booker was trying to do was garner a little good PR after laying off 13% of the police force! We'll see if the smack talk continues, or if Bonds just got grounded.

A tale of two mayors.

Booker taking shoveling requests on Twitter, Bloomberg getting sarcastic in warm, dry City Hall.

Even Bloomberg Allies Are Slamming Him For The Lack Of Snow Response

You know Bloomberg is in trouble when harsh criticism comes from his supporters:

As snow drifts remain piled high in most of the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is receiving harsh criticism from one time allies who are dismayed at the city's clean-up efforts after the blizzard.

Yesterday, Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield, who Bloomberg endorsed in his election bid last year, even sending some of his political troops to help with get-out-the-vote efforts, appeared on a Jewish radio show and blasted the snow-removal.

"This could easily be the beginning of the end of Mayor Bloomberg's political career. It's such a big deal. And I am telling this as somebody who has always had a good relationship with the mayor and who has always worked well with him," Greenfield said. "This is a mayor who prides himself on saying the buck stops by him. And at the end of the day the buck does stop by him. We are going to hold him responsible. He is on notice. He better fix this or we are going to hold him personally accountable."

Queens councilman Eric Ulrich, who helped the mayor secure the backing of the Queens Republican Party and who was sworn in by Bloomberg when he won his seat in 2009, said the Mayor telling New Yorkers to go see a Broadway show was "like Marie Antoinette saying, 'Let the people eat cake.'

"I supported the mayor for a third term because I thought he was the best choice. I thought he was a good manager. Now I am starting to have doubts. You can't manage a snowstorm after Christmas? I think people are starting to question his leadership ability," Ulrich added.

The comments come as the city still has not returned to normalcy more than 24 hours after the last flakes fell. The MTA does not yet have buses running at full capacity, many trains are still experiencing delays and New Yorkers throughout the city are saying that their streets have not been plowed.

The mayor will brief the press later this morning on the city's response to the blizzard.

Well see if these Bloomberg shills actually do what they say and hold the Mayor of Accountability accountable for this mess.

Still, it does not bode well for the 2012 Bloomberg Presidential Coronation when you have Bloomberg allies questioning his leadership ability and comparing him to Marie Antoinette.

I guess Howard Wolfson has his work cut out for him.

Bloomberg Exposed

The Daily News takes it to him in their latest news coverage:

A chastened mayor Bloomberg is scrambling to save his reputation as a top-flight manager after a string of snow-removal snafus left New Yorkers fuming.

Traveling to a snow-clogged Brooklyn, he acknowledged the anger of people whose streets haven't been plowed - or whose lives were threatened by perilous delays in emergency response as ambulances sat stuck.

"I'm angry too," he said. But insisted: "We cannot do everything all the time and we are doing the best we can."

While acknowledging the need for a thorough review of the 911 system collapse during the storm, he largely defended city agencies.

Asked if he had regrets about the way city officials handled the storm, Hizzoner quipped sarcastically, "I regret everything in the world."

"I don't think that we should sit around and think that the end of the world is here," he added. "We cannot be every place at all times ... We won't get to everybody every time."

"We will make mistakes but we have to continue plugging ahead. Yelling about it and complaining doesn't help."

Complaints are still flowing in from all corners as city busses, ambulances and private vehicles remain jammed in snowbanks.

Bloomberg said he's not sure if any deaths were caused by delays in emergency response, but conceded its possible.

"Make no mistake about it," he said. "When you have an emergency like this and ambulances get stuck and fire trucks get stuck and police cars get stuck, it is a dangerous thing and unfortunately we're not going to be able to get the help to people who need it."

Dunno if anybody died because the EMS couldn't get to them in time, but if so, oops...

Wow - in just two days, Bloomberg's reputation as uber-competent technocrat manager of the largest city in the country has imploded under the weight of all that unplowed snow and his own sarcastic and tone-deaf response to the mess.

And now he's squirming under the lights and giving everybody a glimpse of the true Bloomie - petulant, selfish, sarcastic, defensive...just one big, big asshole.

I think we can safely say that Mayor Bloomberg's presidential ambitions ended today.

Sure, he's got $300 million to dump into the presidential campaign like snow from the sky during a blizzard, but all that money isn't going to make people forget what happened during Snowmageddon 2010.

Keep in mind, too, that the snow mess is just the latest fiasco Bloomberg has brought us in this third (illegal) term.

First came Cathie with an "i" Black and then came the CityTime theft of $80 million bucks.

So it's not like this snow thing is happening in isolation.

Bloomberg has been very good at hiding his true self and/or getting people to ignore what an asshole he is by spending lots of time and money on p.r. to build himself up as the Uber-Mayor/Mayor of Accountability.

But that veneer has melted like this snow eventually will.

And what is left is the REAL BLOOMBERG - a rich old white man who doesn't give a shit about anybody outside of his immediate circle of wealthy cronies, can't take legitimate criticism for when he screws up but still thinks he can hold OTHER PEOPLE accountable even when he won't hold himself or people in his administration accountable for some really screwed-up mistakes.

Just ask the people in Astoria when they didn't have electricity for a week about that.

The "No Excuses" Mayor Offers Lame Excuses For Snow Mess

Bloomberg likes to tell teachers there are "no excuses" for any problems they might encounter in their jobs.

The only thing that matters is performance.

But in his own job as mayor, he's got plenty of excuses:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday that the city was doing all it could to clear streets of snow and abandoned vehicles two days after being hit by a blizzard. But he refused to say when all of the city’s streets would be plowed.

“This storm is not like any other we’ve had to deal with,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference from the Office of Emergency Management in Downtown Brooklyn late Tuesday morning, referring to the intensity of the blizzard and the number of vehicles that remain stuck in snowdrifts on city streets. “We are doing everything we possibly can.”


Mr. Bloomberg’s tone on Tuesday was in marked contrast to his remarks at a Monday news conference, when he had said: “The world has not come to an end. The city is going fine.”

Those comments angered some New Yorkers, particularly those who still could not go to work or even leave their homes because of the pile-up of snow around the city.

The mayor asked for residents’ patience, and at one point said the city’s response constituted “the biggest effort to clear snow our city has ever seen.”

“It is a bad situation,” he said, “and people are working together.”

This storm is NOT the worst storm the city has ever had to deal with it.

Overall it was the sixth worst storm on record.

But some areas got hit worse than others.

Parts of Queens got just over a foot of snow.

Howard Beach, for example, got 14 inches of snow.

That's not Snowmageddon by any stretch of the imagination

Bloomberg, however, apparently can't get that snow removed until Wednesday or Mother Nature herself melts it.

Just yesterday he told people it was no big deal, go shopping and see a play.

Now all of a sudden he's saying its the worst storm the city has ever had to deal with, it's not his fault he can't get the city plowed and the transit running, stop blaming him BECAUSE HE IS DOING THE BEST HE CAN!!!!

Excuses, excuses, Mr. Mayor.

The only thing that matters is performance.

And yours, both in your press conferences to talk about the snow removal and in the actual removal of the snow itself, has been piss-poor

Gothamist: Bloomberg Should Have Called Mr. Plow

The Gothamist compiles a bunch of "NYC snowplows stuck in the snow" videos, then says maybe the city should have called Mr. Plow.

Wow - when Homer Simpson is considered more competent to handle a snow emergency than Mayor Moneybags, he's got some political problems to handle.

Don't worry - he'll find a way to blame this storm mess on teachers and seniority protections somehow.

You know, if only Bloomberg could have laid off 4,000 veteran teachers, he would have had more money to handle Snowmageddon 2010.

Or the 14 inches of snow that fell in Howard Beach.

Phone Home, Governor Christie

For all the criticism about how well New York City did or didn't handle the snowstorm of December 26, 2010, at least Mayor Moneybags was on the job, cold and all.

In New Jersey, neither the governor nor the lieutenant governor could be found:

New Jersey will remain in a state of emergency throughout rush hour Monday as crews try to clean up still-treacherous roads, acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney said.

“We really want people to stay off the roads and give us a chance to clean them up,” he said from Gloucester County, in a part of southern New Jersey which wasn’t hit as hard as the northern side of the state. “We were hammered…This was a very difficult storm to deal with.”

Sweeney, a Democrat and president of the state Senate, declared a state of emergency Sunday evening and activated the National Guard. While Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are out of state, Sweeney is filling in as the state’s chief executive. He has been in touch with the governor’s top aides and cabinet officers, but not with Christie himself.

Christie is on vacation with his family at Disney World in Florida, and Guadagno is in Mexico with her family, said spokesman Michael Drewniak. Guadagno is the state’s first lieutenant governor, a position created by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2005 to fill in for a traveling or otherwise out-of-commission governor. Drewniak declined to answer why both executives were out of state simultaneously.


Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, said the governor was in “constant contact” with his staff.

“The chief of staff and chief counsel have in turn been in regular contact with the acting governor throughout to be sure that emergency and other services are in full operation,” Drewniak said in an e-mail. “The world is not coming to an end. We are a northeastern state and we do get snow — sometimes big snows like this — and we will get through it just as we always have.”

The governor's staff was in touch with acting governor Sweeney the governor, but the governor could not be reached.

Hmm...when was the last time I heard a lame excuse like that by a Republican chief executive?

Oh, yeah, it was over Labor Day and had something to do with Mark Sanford hiking the old Appalachian Trail.

Well, people are taking notice that Christie was nowhere to be found.

Even the usually sychophantic Politico has an article about this story entitled Christie at Disneyworld.

What's that old saying about how "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

The Chris Christie version is "When the going gets tough, Governor Christie goes to Disneyworld!"