Bloomberg’s Katrina?

I wanted to get there early with the idea of New York’s recent snow storm as “Bloomberg’s Katrina” (although of course I don’t believe this). It does seem like others have gotten their first, though.

At first I agreed with mistermix’s take that this isn’t much of a story, but I’ve changed my mind. The decision not to declare a snow emergency was a major fuck up. Unheeded 911 calls and at least one resulting death are not a joke. Dealing with weather-related problems is one of a mayor’s duties. Nate Silver concludes “mistakes were made (ed. note: heh) during the Bloomberg Blizzard, and they had serious consequences”.

Remember that over the next year or so, David Broder et al. will be pushing Bloomberg as a super-competent, non-partisan potential savior for this foul-mouthed, vituperative country. I’m not inclined to give this Galtian ubermensch a pass on the city’s lackluster reaction to the storm.

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124 replies
  1. 1
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Governing’s a bitch.

  2. 2
    Redshirt says:

    Katrina was an epic destruction. This was hardly anything of the sort. People die every day, city workers fuck up people’s shit every day, some streets get backed up for a few days… the world turns on.

    Now, postponing an NFL game? Blasphemy!

  3. 3
    Allan says:

    Why didn’t he just write a fat check to God and have the storm directed elsewhere?

  4. 4
    Jewish Steel says:

    Two words: Decision Points.

    Think about it.

  5. 5
    Belvoir says:

    I just read that NYT article a minute ago. Yes, it’s a total fuckup. Besides the delay, it mentions that part of the effort was hampered by the laying off of many sanitation workers. And the last page of the article mentions the absence of the private-enterprise supermen. Maybe because of the holiday, private plowers have always been one part of snow removal in the city. This year, apparently they said they didn’t feel like it. Or something.

    Unlike years ago, Mr. Doherty said, the private workers just do not seem “interested in the work anymore.”

    “Are we paying enough?” he said. “It may be the reason.”

    In fact, it seems that some of the more proven contractors had been signed up by the local airports before the city made its appeal.

    By Tuesday night, the city had had some success recruiting help. The Sanitation Department had 59 pieces of hired equipment, including 29 front-end loaders, 19 tow trucks and 6 Bobcats and excavators.

    Still, Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.

    “You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”

  6. 6
    Mark says:

    This is *bullsh_t*. I lived in Toronto in 1999 when we got hit with a huge storm. The city was completely unprepared – not enough plows – even though, FFS, it snows all the time in Toronto. Things were shut down for days, we had to bring in the military and pay for snow-clearing contractors from outside the city.

    People shrugged and took it in stride.

  7. 7
    Cat Lady says:

    Oh fer fuck’s sake. Shit happens, and it was most likely a top ten storm of our lifetime. What the fuck has happened to Americans? Rendell is right, we’ve all become a nation of thumbsucking wussies. Americans think they’re all “Wolverines!” but we’re really all just “Waaaaaahhhh!”
    Inconvenience – oh noes!

  8. 8
    KCinDC says:

    People are always mad during abnormally large snowstorms, but they have short memories. In DC people were ranting about Mayor Fenty during last winter’s record snows, but I didn’t hear anyone talking about that when the election came. He lost, but snow had nothing to do with it. That said, I haven’t followed enough details about NYC to know for sure.

    Is there any chance of banning that Yellowstone $2 bill ad? It’s such a blatant scam. Slap a little color on a $2 bill, pretend to be a government agency, and sell it for $10 plus postage and handling? I mean, surely no one reading BJ is that stupid, but someone somewhere must be buying them.

  9. 9
    JGabriel says:

    Well, as someone who lives there, I guess it’s time for me to weigh in.

    For those not familiar with the story, the first two pieces I’d recommend are the Times overview, and BrooklynBadBoy’s takedown of Bloomberg and Stephen Goldsmith at DKos.

    My experience? I was in PA visiting family and cut my trip a day short, coming home to midtown Manhattan on Sunday afternoon/evening just as the storm was getting bad.

    There are a number of complaints that Manhattan got special treatment, and whether or not that’s true, even Manhattan’s clean-up efforts were woeful compared to equally intense storms over the past two decades. I live in an area where the trucks are usually plowing within a few, say 3-6, hours of the the first flakes accumulating. This time, nada. I kept looking in mild disbelief all day long on Monday at a street that remained resolutely unplowed. I don’t believe the first plow came through until Tuesday — in MIDTOWN.

    And if it was like that in midtown Manhattan, then I’m sure there was actual hardship for people in the outer boroughs.

    It, fortunately, wasn’t any kind of hardship for me, but it was puzzling. It’s not like Bloomberg hadn’t been through major storms before. Ultimately, I predict the blame will fall on Goldsmith, who is the only new ingredient in the mix, and Bloomie for hiring him.

    It was, without a doubt, the worst, most lackadaisical and inefficient response to a major snowstorm in the nearly two decades that I’ve lived here. It may all sound typical to people who are used to rural blizzards, but in a city with 7-8 million people, we built an infrastructure to deal with this kind of thing, and we expect it to work — because it usually does.

    Which makes it not just a poor response, but a surprising one. And that’s why you see so many people asking, “What the fuck happened?”

    .

  10. 10
    jeff says:

    Since I’m still in the midst of the crisis, I’ll just say that this is far worse than I think many people understand. The City is not functioning, even now. I know most people aren’t dealing with it, but, like 20 Million of us are.

    It is bad.

  11. 11

    I’m here in snowless Dallas, and I’m staggered by this response. This is Bloomberg’s third term! How the hell do you screw up something you have dealt with eight years previously?

  12. 12
    JGabriel says:

    @Belvoir:

    Besides the delay, it mentions that part of the effort was hampered by the laying off of many sanitation workers. And the last page of the article mentions the absence of the private-enterprise supermen. Maybe because of the holiday, private plowers have always been one part of snow removal in the city. This year, apparently they said they didn’t feel like it.

    Ultimately, all of that stuff is going to come down to the people who were supposed to be making the decisions: Goldsmith and Bloomberg. Goldsmith, who is from Indiana, was just hired this year as Deputy Mayor of Operations, and he has never been through an NYC winter. Hell, he never lived in New York before, at all.

    .

  13. 13
    Dr. Squid says:

    I saw Steven Goldsmith’s attached to this clusterfuck, and it became obvious that the snowstorm was destined to be a clusterfuck. Goldsmith was no different from any other big city mayor as a Republican. The only difference is that rather than having the city directly employ his campaign contributors like they do in Chicago and Philly, he privatized services and gave his contributors the contracts.

    What a surprise. He did New York the same way.

  14. 14
    JGabriel says:

    Cat Lady:

    … it was most likely a top ten storm of our lifetime.

    NYC has had at least 5-6 storms that were equally intense or worse in the last two decades — probably more, since I’m sure I don’t remember all of them.

    Bloomberg fucked up. I don’t know for sure why or how, because he’s previously handled three or four pretty bad storms without any problems. My guess is that Goldsmith is at the root of the problem, since he’s the highest level decision maker in the chain who is new to job.

    .

  15. 15
    JGabriel says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    This is Bloomberg’s third term! How the hell do you screw up something you have dealt with eight years previously?

    Ding ding ding!

    Give the man a prize. As much as the hardship, this is something that has everyone truly miffed. Bloomberg isn’t very flashy, especially for someone as rich as he is, but he’s supposed to be the competent guy we can rely on. And NOW he fucks up? After 8 years of dealing with this kind of thing? (No, the storm was not that far out of the normal range. We get storms like this every 3-5 years, usually in clusters.)

    .

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    When someone can put “Bloomberg” and “Galtian” in the same sentence, “Galtian” has come completely untethered from meaning.

  17. 17
    Ross Hershberger says:

    You know, the rest of the country is somewhat conditioned to discount New Yorkers wailing about disasters like bad weather and power outages. Anything that happens there seems to get wall to wall media coverage while an entire county (or two) on fire out west passes unnoticed.
    How bad is this really? I’m legitimately asking.

  18. 18
    Left Coast Tom says:

    As a skier in the west…I think Snow is wasted on the east.

  19. 19
    Church Lady says:

    I think others have gotten “there” first.

  20. 20
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

     

    Nate Silver concludes “mistakes were made (ed. note: heh heh heh) during the Bloomberg Blizzard, and they had serious consequences”.

    Improved.

    If the perceived damage within the voting constituency of NYC is widespread enough, his career in politics is probably over. From what I have read, he installed an ‘outsider’ in the #2 position and his second is the reason #2 is raining all over Bloomberg right now.

    I guess the guy Peter Principled out at least a level ago.

  21. 21
    poco says:

    You know people who say, “hey, its a snow storm–happens all the time, shrug it off” aren’t really getting the point. Despite all the claims of this being the 5th or the 6th worst storm evah, it never really felt like that. It felt like a bad blizzard, but not once in a century type. I feel like I’ve been through worse. Many times. And every time, a few hours after the first flakes fell, there were plows and salters on my tertiary street in Queens, clearing the snow and salting the road. The first flakes, this time, fell on Sunday afternoon, and my street wasn’t plowed or salted (at all) till Wednesday afternoon. I have never seen this type of incompetence–never! This does feel like a major dereliction of duty–whether it was because of Goldsmith or because of major lay-offs in the Sanitary Department, I don’t know. But it WAS very bad, especially for those who had serious emergencies to deal with.

  22. 22
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Also, I don’t think the locals liked his new unexperienced school CEO.

  23. 23
    Suck It Up! says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    stranded buses on the roads, hundreds of people stuck on a subway train overnight, total shut down of the LIRR, outer boroughs still buried, vehicles that are supposed to be good in the snow getting stuck, and on and on – Its pretty bad. My landlord is usually able to clear the snow in a day. Not this time.

  24. 24
    JGabriel says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    How bad is this really? I’m legitimately asking.

    From where I’m sitting, in comfortable midtown, it’s a MAJOR fuck-up, but it’s not that bad right here. Elsewhere in the city, reports are coming in like this one from HamdenRice @ DKos:

    My house indoor temperature is about 45-55 degrees. That’s because I ordered heating oil just before Christmas and because of heavy demand, my friendly and reliable oil company told me that they would have to deliver the day after Christmas. Then came the blizzard. Then came the city government’s failure to plow. Every day the oil company calls to apologize that they simply can’t deliver in Queens because the drivers get stuck…
    __
    So many people are running out of heating oil that there is this bizarre phenomenon we’re seeing: independent heating oil trucks are cruising up and down the boulevards like livery cabs looking to get hailed, offering to deliver oil — if your street is plowed. Mine isn’t so they won’t come to my house.

    Buses and subways were stuck all over the place. FYI, the subway trains do NOT have toilet facilities. Now think about being stuck on one upwards of six-twelve hours.

    Worse, I saw an ambulance with flashing lights try to turn from the newly plowed Francis Lewis onto my street, but was turned back.
    __
    Did someone have a heart attack? At this point, on residential streets and connectors, there is no way for EMS to get through.
    __
    Access A Ride provides a van like service for the elderly and disabled. I also tried to help an Access A Ride van dig out from near the corner of Francis Lewis and my street, but it was hopeless. The van was stuck for 8 hours, and I heard the poor driver’s radio dispatcher instruct him that if he ever got out and was going to pick up anyone, they would have to walk to a boulevard.

    And on it goes. Just read it, for an idea of the damage that results from collapsing infrastructure in a city of 8 million people, 20 million including the ‘burbs. Infrastructure is REALLY important here.

    .

  25. 25
    Suffern ACE says:

    @poco: I agree. They waited until the snow stopped falling. That’s not how they do things if they want to keep ahead of the storm.

  26. 26
    Ron Beasley says:

    This kind of event is a no win for politicians. They didn’t have enough equipment because the people won’t pay for anything they don’t need today as a result when a 10, 20 or 40 year storm comes along the municipality can’t handle it. Of course you can prepare for such an event but you have to be willing to pay for it. Here in Portland we had the biggest snowstorm in 40 years a couple of years ago. It shut down the all the cities in the metro area for almost two weeks. Would anyone be willing to increase their taxes for more equipment and personal to prepare for such an event? Hell no. They are probably right, it’s not really cost effective but quit bitching.

  27. 27
    Ross Hershberger says:

    Okay, that’s legitimately bad. I don’t watch the news so I wasn’t up on how poor the response was. When the weather turns foul I usually hear from my sister in Syracuse, but she’s been strangely… silent… Hope that’s not a bad sign.

    yes, we expect the management of one of the world’s major cities to deal with things like SNOW in the WINTER without a hitch, and when serious preventable problems occur there should be hell to pay.

    I wonder now how the private enterprise enthusiasts will spin this apparent failure of government.

  28. 28
    JGabriel says:

    Sorry, here’s a link to the story I quoted above from HamdenRice. Forgot to include it, and now the editor says it’s too late to edit the post.

    .

  29. 29
    hamletta says:

    I can’t believe he didn’t declare an emergency. Two feet isn’t unprecedented, but it isn’t average, either.

  30. 30
    Biff Longbotham says:

    Mus’ not be many Chicagoans dat read dis blog-rag out dere. Youze guys fuhgaten all ’bout Janie Byrne kickin’ da machine’s AZE by beatin’ dat Bilandic malaka after a cuple big storms back in ’79? Since den, weeze know ta get de streets an’ sanitation boyz out dere FAST wit de salt an’ de plows!

  31. 31
    srv says:

    If New Yorkers weren’t such wussies, they’d be out in the streets rioting. Maybe Fox can whip one up.

    *hey, how about a Million Man Shovel March?

  32. 32
    PanAmerican says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    Normally I’d say three years and give it a shrug…but the warning signs were there in the last election results. The electorate is soft on him and repeated episodes of sleepwalking through this term will make it his last no matter how much money he spends.

  33. 33
    Paul W. says:

    Ummm, no? I live in NYC and haven’t felt any sort of outrage brewing.

  34. 34
    Walker says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    Okay, that’s legitimately bad. I don’t watch the news so I wasn’t up on how poor the response was. When the weather turns foul I usually hear from my sister in Syracuse, but she’s been strangely… silent… Hope that’s not a bad sign.

    Granted, I am about an hour south of Syracuse, but we have not really seen anything this far west. Certainly less than a foot; not enough to even bother shoveling the driveway.

  35. 35
    JGabriel says:

    Ron Beasley:

    This kind of event is a no win for politicians. They didn’t have enough equipment because the people won’t pay for anything they don’t need today as a result when a 10, 20 or 40 year storm comes along the municipality can’t handle it.

    I’m sure Bloomberg would appreciate your sympathy, but it’s not warranted.

    A) People will pay for the equipment here. We DO pay for it. It’s fucking NYC, our taxes are among the highest in the country, and, for the most part, you don’t hear us bitching about it. We’re more than willing to pay for gov’t services.

    B) For the fourth or fifth time, this was not a once in lifetime, or even a once in a decade, storm. This was a 2-5 times a decade storm. Bloomberg has successfully handled at least two storms that were worse, and several others that were its equal. We actually had a once in a century storm in Feb. 2007 that dropped nearly 30″ in the city, and that was handled just fine.

    This time, there was plenty of warning and no excuse.

    .

  36. 36
    Joey Maloney says:

    Wait…Goldsmith? Steven Goldsmith? Steven Goldsmith of Indianapolis? Steven Goldsmith, the former anti-abortion pantysniffing prosecutor? Steven Goldsmith, the mayor who managed to take a reasonably well-functioning city and fuck it up so badly that eleven years later it’s still not unscrewed? Whose every decision as mayor, no matter how trivial, had to pass muster with his incoherent prosperity gospel ideology? That Steven Goldsmith?

    Yeah, you might start looking there for the problem.

  37. 37
    JGabriel says:

    @Biff Longbotham:

    Since den, weeze know ta get de streets an’ sanitation boyz out dere FAST wit de salt an’ de plows!

    That’s da fucken’ point! We know dat shit down here in New Yawk too! Known it at least since we fuckin’ tossed Lindsey for fo-gettin’ it. Dat’s what’s so fucken infury-ayten! And now someone fucken’ fo-got agen? Fuck that fucken’ noise. Toss the fuckers owt.

    .

  38. 38
    JGabriel says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Steven Goldsmith? Steven Goldsmith of Indianapolis? Steven Goldsmith, the former anti-abortion pantysniffing prosecutor? Steven Goldsmith, the mayor who managed to take a reasonably well-functioning city and fuck it up so badly that eleven years later it’s still not unscrewed? Whose every decision as mayor, no matter how trivial, had to pass muster with his incoherent prosperity gospel ideology? That Steven Goldsmith?

    Yes. I see you understand the problem. Do you have personal experience with him? It sure sounds personal.

    .

  39. 39
    hamletta says:

    @JGabriel: I’m seeing an SNL skit with the Ghost of John Lindsey coming to visit Bloomberg…with the chains he “forged, link by link” dragging behind him.

    ETA: Except there’s no Christmas Day happy ending. The damage is done.

  40. 40
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    it’s also

    Chris Christie’s Katrina

    the alliteration – it’s sings!

  41. 41
    Jewish Steel says:

    Why would any politician hesitate to declare an emergency when he or she can legitimately do so?

    Bundled up outside answering questions from the press with an air of grim determination and bothered importance. Does Bloomberg need a media consultant or something?

  42. 42
    hamletta says:

    Oh, wait! There is a happy ending…for Evan Bayh.

    It’s a big production number where he sings “Thank You Very Much.”

    By committing political suicide, Bloomberg’s freed up more room for Bayh in The Battle Of the Centrist Wankers.

  43. 43
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Like I said, Bloomberg’s #2 is the reason it’s raining #2 on himself.

    If you pick shit to do a job then you shouldn’t be surprised when blowback covers you in it.

  44. 44
    JGabriel says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    Anything that happens there seems to get wall to wall media coverage …

    Because YOUR national coverage is OUR local coverage!

    Sorry, didn’t mean to yell, I’m just getting a little peeved about this particular complaint, which I’ve seen repeatedly.

    But yes, the networks cover a New York City (and maybe LA, Philly, Boston, Chicago, DC, Houston, and Miami) a little more intensely than the rest of the country, because they are located here. The networks don’t just run the networks from here, they also own the local franchises. So, yeah, guess what? There’s going to be some doubling up.

    .

  45. 45
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Give the press time. It’ll eventually be decided that it was all the fault of goldbricking, overcompensated, unaccountable, pension-chasing unionized public employees.

    I expect a war on public employees to be the Next Big GOP Thing. There’s nothing to be lost by playing to the Crab Bucket Syndrome in hard times. Scapegoat, not chicken, is after all America’s real favorite white meat.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    I knew someone was going to beat me to the Bilandic reference. Damn it.

  47. 47

    @Joey Maloney: Yes, that Stephen Goldsmith!! I wonder why Bloomberg hired him. Hiring a guy that used to be mayor to be a mayor’s # 2 is never a good sign.

  48. 48
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    as RAHM! would say, “don’t let a crisis go to waste”.

    Unions in New Jersey should make all the hay they want out of fatboy’s tan hide.

  49. 49

    Oh God, does no one remember what actually happened in Katrina?

    I’m guessing that come tomorrow, Bloomberg’s failures will be elevated from incompetency to Nazism.

  50. 50
    JGabriel says:

    @hamletta:

    I’m seeing an SNL skit with the Ghost of John Lindsey coming to visit Bloomberg…

    That’s brilliant. Let’s hope someone from SNL is reading the blog.

    .

  51. 51
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I’m from Portland, and I really don’t see the analogy. Are you talking about Christmas, 2008? Yeah, that was bad, but Portland rarely gets that kind of weather. NYC is obviously different-they should be prepared for major storms, storms which happen much more frequently than anything Portland gets. Thank goodness I’ve lived in the Bay Area the past 5 years, no more whining and non-stop weather coverage when there’s an inch of snow on the ground.

  52. 52
    JGabriel says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I expect a war on public employees to be the Next Big GOP Thing.

    Maybe, but it won’t fly here in New York City. Sure, some of us bitch about indifferent subway attendants or the bureaucracy, but deep down we know this city doesn’t run without the city workers, and we’re grateful for them.

    .

  53. 53
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    Remember that over the next year or so, David Broder et al. will be pushing Bloomberg

    hopefully broder will soon be worm food.

  54. 54
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: I do agree. A little perspective is in order.

  55. 55
    Black Diamond says:

    I don’t think this is comparable to Katrina because Katrina was just so devastating in terms of lives lost. However, both Bloomberg and Christie’s images will be scarred by this incident, particularly because they both try to project themselves as no-nonsense managers. Bloomberg is in his 3rd term as Mayor, he’s dealt with other serious storms so he shouldn’t come across as so inept. Though I think his bigger crime was his initial response in the Monday Press Conference where he seemed to come across as caring more for the visitors going to broadway shows than for the residents snowed in. Christie being a Governor gets less flak but him flying to Florida knowing his #2 is also not there, at the same time the acting governor, a democrat, is declaring a state of emergency is sad.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    Oh God, does no one remember what actually happened in Katrina?

    This does not compare to Katrina. It’s a completely different situation, bad and unacceptable in its own way, but not even close to the scale of homes and lives that were lost in Katrina.

    I hope we’re not giving anyone the impression that we really think it’s as bad a Katrina.

    .

  57. 57
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: this is Bloomberg’s Stalingrad!!

  58. 58
    hamletta says:

    @JGabriel: You aren’t, and DougJ pointed out how ludicrous the comparison is in the OP.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    At least it’s vaguely similar (city screws up emergency response to a natural disaster), unlike some of the things I’ve heard characterized as “So and so’s Katrina.”

  60. 60

    @JGabriel: No worries. I’m not worried that folks here actually think that. It’s the outside World o’ Stupidity that has me in a wee froth.

    @Mike Kay (True Grit): BUT WHO’S EVA BRAUN?

    @Mnemosyne: Welllll…. If I were to give the notion anything, I’d give it that. But I’m not inclined.

    Look, I was one of the first people to call Israel’s recent wildfires “Israel’s Katrina” (no matter that no one on earth noticed it because my blog is a mere speck in the Ocean o’ Blogs), but that’s because it was a fair comparison — a natural disaster that reached entirely unnatural proportions because of human incompetency, lack of compassion, and hubris, with a resulting not-at-all inevitable horrific loss of life. Which is to say: Sometimes the comparison makes sense (IMO).

    But this? This was just standard issue incompetency ratcheted up a half-notch.

  61. 61
    Jewish Steel says:

    Yes, I won’t speak for Doug J, but I think he is employing hyperbole for humorous effect.

    If you look around the blog, that happens quite a bit.

    “Balloon Juice,” right?

  62. 62

    @Jewish Steel: Oh, that DougJ. He’s such a rapscallion!

  63. 63
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: The Israel fires were pretty awful, and like Katrina they were exacerbated by incompetent disaster preparedness due to putting political hacks and cronies in positions that actually require specific technical expertise…but when all was said and done there were fewer than 50 fatalities and the nearest large city, Haifa, was untouched in any permanent way.

    Also, too, I’m not seeing the same level of political fallout here as we saw in the USA from Katrina. I think that’s largely due to the fact that there’s no mushy middle to be disenchanted with Netanyahu the way there was for Bush. People that support him, will support him forever (or until he stops advocating occupation); people that don’t support him, their opinion couldn’t get any lower than it already is; and there’s almost no one outside those two groups.

    So calling the fires “Israel’s Katrina” overstates both the physical and political damage.

  64. 64
    de stijl says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    At least DougJ dialed it back from “Snowlocaust” between the first draft and final version.

  65. 65
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    An incorrigible wag.

  66. 66
    Redshift says:

    @Mike Kay (True Grit): Going for a lifetime achievement Moore award?

  67. 67
    freelancer says:

    @Mike Kay (True Grit):

    it’s also
    Chris Christie’s Katrina
    the alliteration – it’s sings!

    Wouldn’t Christopher Christie’s Christmas Katrina be even better? It has 3 “Christ”s in 4 words.

  68. 68
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @freelancer:

    That’s three times the Christ compared to the original! Whatta bargain!

    @Mike Kay (True Grit):

    No, it’s his burning of Rome, or rather the snowing in of Rome. Instead of fiddling Mayor Mikey was emailing!

  69. 69
    JGabriel says:

    freelancer:

    Christopher Christie’s Christmas Katrina

    I like it. Although now it’s giving me this image of a treetop angel coming to life to comfort a pathetic and obnoxious, but lonely, boy with an enormous weight problem.

    Hmmm.

    .

  70. 70
    JGabriel says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    That’s three times the Christ …

    The Holy Trinity! But with more Christ! 67% Less Fat!

    I guess the wafers will have much bigger portions.

    .

  71. 71
    JGabriel says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Instead of fiddling Mayor Mikey was emailing!

    And Steven Goldsmith was “in the DC area”.

    Apparently gift-wrapping his political future and handing it off to someone else.

    .

  72. 72
    Ailuridae says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    Well I don’t think anyone was seriously suggesting that this snowstorm screw up was comparable to Bush’s handling of Katrina (the greatest domestic failure of Presidential leadership post WW2) but to “Obama’s Katrina” the handling of the BP oil spill. I took Doug to be mocking that phrasing although I could be wrong.

    Then again, I really hate Bloomberg. He’s Jewish.

  73. 73
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @JGabriel:

    The Holy Trinity! But with more Christ! 67% Less More Fat!
     
    I guess the his wafers will have been much bigger portions.

    Fix’t.

    I’ve seen Christie, he likes his big wafers. ;)

  74. 74
    Ailuridae says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    I disagree here. Keeping the personnel and equipment on hand to handle a snow storm that happen once or twice a century and exceeds the annual snowfall is a pretty bad use of resources. Now that doesn’t excuse Bloomberg’s handling of it once it happened but it wasn’t a legitimate preparedness issue.

  75. 75
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @JGabriel:
    And Steven Goldsmith was “in the DC area”.

    Naturally. I learned long ago that #2 types seem to be attracted to that city.

    Apparently gift-wrapping his political future and handing it off to someone else.

    No shit. I hope he used real pretty wrapping because he’s going to need it.

    Hopefully he was meeting with a hooker. That just might save his career.

  76. 76
    freelancer says:

    I first came to know about Corey Booker from the awesome documentary “Street Fight“. What he’s done the last week is obviously political grandstanding, but it’s constituent service at its best. Reminds me of the scenes in The Wire where Carcetti has his city services running around cleaning up all over the place because he complained vaguely about a nonspecific hydrant or a trash-filled alley.

  77. 77
    MattR says:

    I am way late to the game, but I haven’t seen anyone mention the amount of wind associated with this storm. I went out to walk my dog on Sunday night about an hour after my neighbor cleared out an area for her dog to use and there was absolutely no evidence left of her work. My condo complex is usually amazing when it comes to snow removal and they did not bother to start plowing until Monday morning. I really don’t think it would have accomplished much to have started on Sunday night, other than to exhaust the crews.

    As an afterthought, I am sure Bloomberg could have done more in the way of preparedness but I also think he would have been absolutely skewered for ruining people’s Xmas had he brought people in and then the storm was not as bad as expected (which is usually the case). Don’t mean that as an excuse. Being the mayor means you have to deal with that kind of stuff. But just saying.

  78. 78
    freelancer says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    I can’t believe no one laughed at my “Republican Luca Brasi” joke a few days ago. As an aside, this, from driftglass, has to be seen, if only for the Blago/infant photoshop that had me laughing so hard I blew a capillary in my eye.

  79. 79
    GregB says:

    As a market analyst I just wanted to note that salted dick futures are through the roof.

    Sell now.

  80. 80
    JGabriel says:

    @Ailuridae:

    … Bush’s handling of Katrina (the greatest domestic failure of Presidential leadership post WW2) …

    … except for Bush’s other, previous, greatest domestic failure of Presidential leadership post WW2.

    .

  81. 81
    JGabriel says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Keeping the personnel and equipment on hand to handle a snow storm that happen once or twice a century

    Does no one read the comments? How many times do I have to point out that THIS WAS NOT A ONCE IN A CENTURY STORM?

    Bloomberg has successfully handled two storms bigger than this (Feb. 2006 & Feb. 2010), and several that were nearly it’s equal, IN THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. It was a typical NYC blizzard.

    For more data and evidence, read the Nate Silver post that DougJ links to at top.

    .

  82. 82
    MattR says:

    @JGabriel:

    Bloomberg has successfully handled two storms bigger than this (Feb. 2006 & Feb. 2010), and several that were nearly it’s equal, IN THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. It was a typical NYC blizzard.

    I have actually been wondering how true this is if you look at the whole metropolitan area. This is based solely on my memories of past storms, but it seemed like this one really covered the entire area. With past storms, there usually seemed to be at least one region that got lucky and missed all the heavy bands.

    (EDIT: And it was looking at Nate’s post that got me thinking about this)

    (EDIT 2: It is interesting/scary to look at the list of NYC storms that Nate linked to and to notice the dates.)

  83. 83
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @MattR:

    We’ve been getting slammed with high winds (30-50 MPH) for the last few days (south Oregon coast) and driving rain but that’s life as usual here. Mix snow with strong winds and you can leave me out of it. I grew up in Spokane, Washington and I’m glad to be away from that hockey rink of hills.

    Check out this recent clip from a typical scene on Freya Street. The clip don’t show it but it’s a steep (6% grade) hill that goes up seven blocks with a ‘step’ at each intersection, so there were lots of chances for the stupid ones to stop, take a side street and take a longer but safer route. But some don’t and this is usually the result. Whenever this hill (or others like it) gets hit like this and the city hasn’t sanded it, car pinball starts. Spokane is in a valley and has mountains to the north side of it, so there are lots of places like this around town.

    I used to live just above the top of that hill and I had to go down (and back up it) at least five times a week to get to/from work. When it was really bad, I did the smart thing and took the longer and safer route. I bought a beater ’78 Ford Fairmont for winter duties over three years and it never got hit nor did I hit anything with it. What helped was that the car had hit a telephone pole, so it had a nice dent in the right front bumper, and the hood was held down with a bungee cord as a result of it. The exhaust was loud, the six cylinder engine ran like good but noisy since I put next to nothing into it and paid only $100 for it. For example, the carb had stripped base screws and I held it on the manifold with tywraps to save money. Sold it for $150 three years later with it the same way (and the buyer knew it but wanted it for the same reason, snow duties).

    “The Thing” I drove looked like an accident looking for a place to happen so people gave me lots of room. The nicer their car, the more room I got! I drove the Mustang in everything but snowy weather. The car was a true beater but I was able to drive it like I had nothing to lose.

    I didn’t…lol!

    Smart drivers in Spokane do not drive their nice cars in icy conditions, there are too many damned hills and too damned many stupid drivers on them. Even if the city blocks the top of the hill off, some people will go around the barriers because they are the exception to the rule.

  84. 84
    AAA Bonds says:

    Katrina was pretty bad, man.

    Like, they euthanized people in hospitals because they couldn’t safely remove them.

    It’s a good thing you don’t buy it because during Katrina a failure of government was indirectly responsible for an unknown number of deaths, including a few known violent murders.

  85. 85
    JGabriel says:

    @MattR:

    I have actually been wondering how true this is if you look at the whole metropolitan area.

    I’m not sure what you mean here. “The whole metropolitan area” is a phrase usually used to indicate the NYC Marketing Area of about 20 million people, including Northern New Jersey, Nassau County, Yonkers, etc. — none of which would fall under Bloomberg’s bailiwick, and therefore wouldn’t really be relevant to his performance.

    Do you just mean that the whole city (The Five Boroughs and nothing else) was covered? Because I’m pretty sure that’s not too uncommon.

    I think the biggest issue here is that the trucks usually go out early, plowing and laying down salt, and this time they didn’t.

    As I mentioned way upthread, I’m in midtown, and I didn’t see a plow till Tuesday morning. Any other time we’ve had a storm like this, the plows would have been out somewhere in the 8:30p-12:30a time frame on Sunday night. Someone, probably Bloomberg when he hired Goldsmith, fucked up.

    .

  86. 86
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @freelancer:

    I missed your LB shot, darn! :)

    I didn’t bust a capillary in an eye but I’m still laughing my ass off at that ‘shop of Christie! That’s just perfection, a perfect depiction of that ass.

    With big ears!

  87. 87
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @freelancer: You know, I don’t think it is political grandstanding because he is actually doing the work. Yes, of course there’s a political component to it, but he’s actually going to the neighborhoods with plows and helping people get out. I think it’s a shame to have people pooh-pooh that by saying it’s just political grandstanding. (Which I understand is not exactly what you are saying, but that phrase flips a trigger in me).

    State of emergency: One foot of snow at a time here is definitely a state of emergency situation. Two? Oh, hell, yes. I think Nate Silver’s analysis of it is pretty fair. Bloomberg made mistakes AND it’s really difficult to deal with a snowstorm of that magnitude regardless of preparedness. I don’t think it has to be either/or.

  88. 88
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Scocca via driftglass:

    If it’s possible to fly in and out of snow-crippled New Jersey tomorrow, governor Chris Christie is due to return from his now-notorious vacation at Disney World. It is true that the governor’s decision to go ahead and leave the state with a blizzard blowing in—and to stay away, even as the disruption mounted—has been bad image management.

    I like the sentiment expressed, but I’m having a little problem here. I mean, I’ve seen photos of Christie. So have you, no doubt. And, well, what I’m trying to get to here is, we all know what Christie looks like. Does anyone think, in Christie’s case, that good image management is really an option that’s available to Christie?

    .

  89. 89
    freelancer says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Well then, you read it in a way that I didn’t intend. Just looking at the difference in comparisons between East Coast cities, can anyone look at Mr. Booker and what he does for his people, and really deny that he fucking rocks? I need to check out Brick City, the Sundance doc about Newark as well.

  90. 90
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Ailuridae:

    What, Bloomberg too? Damn!

    Well, what do you expect. Y’know?

  91. 91
    Platonicspoof says:

    @JGabriel:
    December 30th is Groundblog Day.

    And you are Bill/ie Murray.

    I can imagine that at blogs with six thousand comment posts, every day is Groundblog Day.

  92. 92
    MattR says:

    @JGabriel:

    I’m not sure what you mean here. “The whole metropolitan area” is a phrase usually used to indicate the NYC Marketing Area of about 20 million people, including Northern New Jersey, Nassau County, Yonkers, etc. — none of which would fall under Bloomberg’s bailiwick, and therefore wouldn’t really be relevant to his performance.

    I kinda meant it both ways. In four of the last five big storms, Central Park has recorded between 19.8 and 20.9 inches. I am curious if the accumulation totals in other parts of the city were that consistent across those same storms. As for the entire metro area and how it would relate to Bloomberg, it was probably not the number one factor but If part of the problem was a lack of private workers that could be affected by demand from all other parts of the region.

    But, the more I think about it, the more I think Christmas affected so many different things (some in minor ways) that it was probably the biggest factor in why this storm was so different/problematic.

  93. 93
    MattR says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    “The Thing” I drove looked like an accident looking for a place to happen so people gave me lots of room. The nicer their car, the more room I got!

    I put this theory to the test quite often driving though Manhattan. I have a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that is in decent shape with a couple minor dings and a couple spots where the paint is wearing, but when I make it clear to the guy in the BMW that we will collide if he doesn’t yield he usually yields. Cabs are a different story. I still play chicken with them, I just have to use different tactics.

  94. 94
    Joey Maloney says:

    @JGabriel: I spent my teen years in Naptown, where the boy-wonder prosecutor spent much of his time raiding gay bars and bathhouses, when he wasn’t driving pregnant teens to suicide. He was a slimy little fuckbag, but at least that was a job he was good at.

  95. 95
    bob h says:

    Bloomberg usually jets to Bermuda for the weekend. At least he was canny enough not to do that this time.

  96. 96
    Malron says:

    In 1979 an arrogant mayor in Chicago turned up his nose at plowing the side streets and this lady named Jane Byrne harnessed the populist backlash to unseat him in the next election. Just sayin’.

  97. 97
    amk says:

    If all this poutrage removes him as the mayor, that’s fine. As for the ‘inconveniences’, don’t be wusses. Shite like that has happened in London, Germany and Russia just this month and people have moved on. Americans are the worst drama queens.

  98. 98
    WereBear says:

    For the love of precipitation, what is wrong with wanting to live in something called civilization and being able to get to work, and hospitals, when needed?

    I can attest that New Yorkers pay high taxes; I used to live in the Metro area. And there’s nothing wrong with that, until you don’t get what you pay for. See, there’s this thing called a “frontal lobe” that allows us to look ahead and anticipate that if a lot of snow gets dumped on streets, there’s going to be a need to take it away again.

    I’m also familiar with the Midwestern ethic of “we’d better not complain, because God did it and He might get mad.” That’s fine if you want to live in a place with that attitude to public services.

    But I choose not to, and I suspect this goes double for NYC residents.

  99. 99
    Ricky Roma says:

    I am very much against a Bloomberg Presidential run. I am very much for a Bloomberg installation as Mayor for Life of New York.

  100. 100
    JCT says:

    @WereBear: +1, you’ve got it.

    I’m out in the Bronx and streets around here (surrounding a major hospital no less) were STILL not plowed as of yesterday. My technician came in completely exhausted because she and her husband had to go and help both sets of their parents dig out so they could go to doctor’s appointments.

    I’ve lived here for over 25 years and my husband for almost 50 years and this was about the worst response we have seen to a major storm. No excuse, for goodness’ sake it wasn’t an earthquake — we watched it come up the coast!

  101. 101
    ken says:

    This is a class issue here in NYC.

    I live on the UES , 75th and 3rd. All the doormen and supers who live in the buildings around here shoveled the sidewalks and the streets were cleared the next day. I am talking basically everything from the 40’s to the 90’s and from York to Central Park.

    I visited a friend in Brooklyn yesterday, around S 4th. Oy Vey. I almost killed myself from the second I got out of the subway at Lorimer. Nothing is shoveled and the streets are just as bad.

  102. 102
    Neo says:

    SNOW JOB: SLOW CLEAN-UP WAS UNION ‘BUDGET PROTEST’

    If this was a “union action” as the New York Post and City Councilman Dan Halloran claim, then criminal prosecutions are in order.

  103. 103
    PurpleGirl says:

    I was mad at Bloomberg’s dismissal of at least two deaths due to the inability of EMTs to get to the patients. The baby dieing nine hours after birth and the lady in Jackson Heights are not acceptable. We pay enough in taxes. This storm was not a century-type storm. We’ve been prepared in the past. This time we weren’t. Bloomberg seems to have become bored by his job.

    I don’t ever remember bus lines being shut down completely before. There are large areas of the outer most stretches where buses are all you have besides your own car. There are many, many people who take a bus (or two) to get to a subway. And the MTA is raising fares today, for the third time in 3 to 4 years.

    Just remember Bloomberg’s arrogance when he runs for higher office. This is what he really thinks about regular people.

  104. 104
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Neo: I don’t believe anything in the Post anymore. It’s Murdoch’s rag and Murdoch hates unions. FWIW, in the past two years the Department of Sanitation has let some 400 workers go. It leaves them little flexibility in staffing. But then Bloomberg doesn’t want to raise taxes on his comrades.

  105. 105
    Nick says:

    @PurpleGirl: I’ve been railing on Bloomberg the last few days (look at my previous posts), but I know Halloran personally.

    The Post story is, unfortunately, true.

  106. 106
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PurpleGirl: Yeah, the writer of the article seems to think the solution involves harder work and not paying overtime. OK…

  107. 107
    Nick says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Yeah, the writer of the article seems to think the solution involves harder work and not paying overtime. OK…

    of course they do, it’s the Post.

  108. 108
    Mike in NC says:

    When a blizzard hits Mississippi the media will be there to watch Haley Barbour rise to the occasion.

  109. 109
    Original Lee says:

    @poco: A friend whose baby is due any minute now was quietly freaking out Monday evening because she couldn’t figure out how to get to the hospital if she went into labor. Normally the hospital is a 10-minute cab ride from where she lives. So I assumed it was pretty bad but didn’t know exactly why.

  110. 110
    Ross Hershberger says:

    Well I just broke a window thanks to the weather. We’ve got alternating freezing/melting here. That makes ice dams form on our strange roof and causes leaking. Just out of bed, I was out on the roof in my slippers hacking ice when I fell and put my knee through a window. I’m fine except for being pissed at myself for not stopping to put on boots. Man, breaking glass is LOUD in cold air when it’s totally quiet.
    One more thing to fix.

    Best regards to those who are incapacitated by the weather. I feel for you and hope for quick resolution.

  111. 111
    Michael says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    They waited until the snow stopped falling. That’s not how they do things if they want to keep ahead of the storm.

    That decision has Goldsmith written all over it – it is the default strategy in the Midwest, designed as a cost saving measure. Of course, the urban terrain out here in the flatlands is quite a bit different, and what works here is not going to work well in New York.

  112. 112
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Michael: No, and once you do that and allow 20″ to accumulate, your sanitation workers are not going to be able to put the plows all the way to the road and remove the snow in one pass, because, well, in New York City you have to put that snow somewhere. So it will still take multiple passes to clear the snow. Doesn’t save a lot of “overtime pay” at all.

  113. 113
    BobS says:

    @Suffern ACE: Of course, the New York Post wouldn’t have an editorial bias against unions that might be reflected in it’s news coverage, would it? While the concept of a work slowdown by individual disgruntled workers is certainly conceivable, a good rule of thumb with the New York Post (like Fox News) is to believe none of what you read/hear, and half of what you see.
    And speaking of seeing, in an age when half the population is carrying a cell phone video camera in their purse or pocket, some curious onlookers must have gotten some video documentation of what the anonymous (nonexistent?) sources allege in the story.

  114. 114
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Nick: That people are making accusations are true. A lot of the people making accusations in the article, though, are people who are inconvenienced by the snow, not those who are responsible for removing the snow. Making assumptions that it all could be plowed faster without all that nasty overtime if only…there was less of it to remove, I suppose.

    If the main roads weren’t plowed, do the authors of the article honestly expect that the “union” is going to start plowing side streets? What kind of magical plows is the city running these days?

  115. 115
    Michael says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    No, and once you do that and allow 20” to accumulate, your sanitation workers are not going to be able to put the plows all the way to the road and remove the snow in one pass, because, well, in New York City you have to put that snow somewhere. So it will still take multiple passes to clear the snow. Doesn’t save a lot of “overtime pay” at all.

    We finally learned our lesson on that here in my city (had a really bad one about 15 years ago that shut us down for a week), so there are usually some good proactive at the beginning of every weather event. Now, if we can wrestle our local electrical utility back from the privately held foreign conglomerate that bought it and get back to some preventive maintenance on trimming and lines, we’ll be in great shape.

  116. 116
    Jay C says:

    With all due respect to non-NYer BJers wondering why we Gothamites/GNYMMA folk have been griping so much about a blizzard other areas have had to deal with:

    I think the fundamental question about the response to the Christmas Blizzard of ’10 isn’t so much “what went wrong?” – but “what went wrong THIS TIME??“: since, as many commenters have pointed out:

    1. The NY Metro Area is enormously built-up, and has a huge population – more dependent on public transit than most other places in the US

    2. Snowstorms here of this magnitude are infrequent, but neither unknown or so rare as can’t be planned for.

    3. There was no surprise here: by Friday, all forecasts were calling for a storm, and by Saturday morning, it was expected (if not known) it was going to be a bad one.

    4. NYC already HAS procedures and “infrastructure” in place to deal with excessive snowfall: which NYC taxpayers pay for, and expect to get the services of.

    5. The City has dealt, and dealt much better, with bad snowfalls like this in the past – including during Mike Bloomberg’s tenure – yet somehow didn’t THIS TIME.

    The linked NYT article, I think, makes it clear that it was a cascade-effect of bad/wrong decisions that bollixed up the City’s cleanup efforts – not helped by Mayoral leadership that seemed to suffer a sudden attack of Cluelessness at an inappropriate time. I originally though Josh Marshall’s tagline of “scandal brewing over cleanup” was overwrought: Sadly, I’ll have to admit I was wrong about that; this IS a scandal; and one can only hope the firestorm of criticism will help to avoid a similar clusterf*ck in the future. Winter isn’t over yet….

  117. 117
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Ricky Roma: You can keep him. I want him out of City Hall, thank you very much.

  118. 118
    Nick says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    That people are making accusations are true.

    No, three Sanitation workers confessed is true. We’ve been told who they are, protecting their identity of course. Now they could be lying, but why would they do that?

    If the main roads weren’t plowed, do the authors of the article honestly expect that the “union” is going to start plowing side streets? What kind of magical plows is the city running these days?

    the main roads were plowed, that was the issue. They cleared the main roads but then did nothing else.

  119. 119
    Norbrook says:

    It looks to me like a screw-up by the numbers on the part of city officials. Really, this is the northeast, and we have snow storms like this on a regular basis.

  120. 120
    JGabriel says:

    @Neo:

    If this was a “union action” as the New York Post and [Republican] City Councilman Dan Halloran claim…

    It was not. That’s a lie. Why would you would give even a moment’s credence to a Murdoch rag?

    To start with, the sanitation workers have no say in when a snow emergency is announced, which is where the problems begin. That decision is typically up to whoever Bloomberg puts in charge of operations — who, in this case, would be Steven Goldsmith, who was off gallivanting in DC.

    The Post story and Halloran’s claim are just attempts to pass the buck down for Bloomberg and Goldsmith’s failures.

    .

  121. 121
    Shinobi says:

    Mayors in Chicago already know that the best way to lose your job is to fuck up handling a snow storm.

    Or if I were a native I would say what @Biff Longbotham: said

  122. 122
    rikyrah says:

    I’m from Chicago, where we threw out a mayor because of a snowstorm. I have no sympathy for big city northern mayors who are caught with their pants down during the snow.

  123. 123
    Ab_Normal says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Spokane had one of those last night. Made me glad I take public transit, though I was fairly snow-crusted by the time I made it to the bus. Later heard most of the streets up both the North and South Hills were closed during the peak of the evening commute. Fortunately, I live in the flat part of the Valley — no hills for me, just plowed in sidewalks.

  124. 124
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Cat Lady: I’d have to say I’m with the cat lady. Shit happens there is not an answer for every calamity that occurs. If you think this is some kind of outrage, I suggest you sign up to drive your snowplow on short notice 24/7 any time day or night. I’ve been there it’s no picnic and no matter what you do everyone is never satisfied.

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