It’s not just the Upper East side that deserved better plowing after this week’s snowstorm, Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted today.
Though Mr. de Blasio staunchly defended his administration’s East Side snow-clearing efforts immediately after the storm, he eventually reversed himself, personally visiting the neighborhood, issuing an effusive statement and promising to redouble his efforts.
But it wasn’t just the Upper East Side that had complaints. Parts of Staten Island, for instance, claimed they were “forgotten” for 48 hours after Tuesday’s storm. And this morning, Mr. de Blasio said he was “concerned” about that as well.
“I’m concerned about reports that I’ve heard from Staten Island,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters at a press rolling out more administrative hires. “I want to learn from them how we can do better. So were going to work each and every time to get better. I want each response to be better than the last one. That’s our goal.”
During the campaign, Mr. de Blasio often accused his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of prioritizing wealthier neighborhoods in Manhattan over the outer boroughs when it came to city services. But asked whether that sort of bias could have animated his own administration’s focus on complaints from well-heeled Upper East Siders after the storm, Mr. de Blasio rejected the inquiry.
“I respect the question but I think the logic is a little tortured,” he told Politicker, touting the city’s plowing operations after the first of the month’s two snowstorms. “In the first storm, I think there was a broad consensus that neighborhoods were served well all over the city. In the second storm, many, many neighborhoods felt they were served well. There were some places that weren’t served as well. The particular concerns about the Upper East Sides caused me to see what was happening … immediately.”
“I’ve heard more and more since about the situation in Staten Island and I’m going to pursue that as well,” he added.
Another reporter pressed Mr. de Blasio on maps circulating on some parts of the internet suggesting the mayor had intentionally slighted the Upper East Side as political payback against the neighborhood, which did not vote for him in either the primary or general election last year. Mr. de Blasio and his Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty have repeatedly dismissed the allegations and instead blamed bad rush hour traffic and a down GPS on one piece of snow equipment that prevented it from transmitting its movements around the neighborhood to the city’s online plow tracker.
But today, the mayor also seemed to shift some of the blame to Mr. Doherty–a decades’ long agency veteran and a holdover from the Bloomberg administration–as well.
“They’re just wrong,” he said of the political payback theory. “And I’ve said that immediately and I’ll keep saying it. The orders were given; the execution was not what it should have been. And when I saw it with my own eyes, I was thoroughly dissatisfied and I gave new orders and clear orders to beef up the efforts.”
“I appreciate the question. I’m not here to speculate,” he later offered when asked for specifics. “Whatever it was, obviously, again, it wasn’t up to snuff and we’ve got to figure it out. But we do know this much: The equipment was available, the personnel was available, the orders were given. So now we have to figure out what went wrong.”