Monday, November 5, 2012

Heck of a Job, Bloomie

Harry Siegel over at the Daily Beast weighs in on the Bloomberg failure to prepare for Sandy-and makes the same point we have been making over the past few days: "Outside of the city’s affluent precincts, New Yorkers have felt abandoned by the ultra-mayor who’s deemed New York a “luxury product” as days have passed and help has remained distant."

Siegel went out to Staten Island with emergency supplies-and to get a firsthand look at the devastation What he found was, in a word, chaos: "Of course, the city didn’t cause the storm, and responding to it is complicated. And none of this is to fault the selfless first responders, city workers, and volunteers (like police guiding supply caravans on their day off) who’ve worked tireless to help—only to say that they’ve been too often left to their own devices, without a clear or effective communications or command structure."

Of course, that's what the Office of Emergency Management was established for-but it seems as if it has become a useless appendage:

"The OEM, created by Mayor Rudy Giuliani was intended to do just that, said a former Giuliani administration official, who asked not to be named criticizing the current mayor. “The real question is why OEM—which was built to manage the battle of the badges in a disaster, that’s why it exists—doesn’t have an evident lead role” in the Sandy response, the former official said. He speculated that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who served under Mayor David Dinkins before returning when Bloomberg took office, “never accepted the legitimacy of OEM,” which was created by the mayor who’d effectively let him go."

This gets us to the mayor's unpreparedness-and Siegel chimes in providing our solo commentary with a melodious chorus: "The bottom line: Bloomberg, who’s now spent seven years in office working out his next move once he leaves, decided to use his Sandy-expanded national profile to give a last-minute endorsement to Barack Obama (and, of course, up his political profile in the process), was simply unprepared for the impact of climate change on his own city—despite his credit-taking for righting New York after 9/11, despite his disastrous response to the 2010 blizzard, and despite Irene’s near-miss last year."

Let's not forget-and Siegel doesn't-that Bloomberg has been the waterfront guy, encouraging folks to move in the direction of the littoral without any plan for their safety: "The mayor whose city is made up of three islands, along with The Bronx, has spent much of his term trying to encourage residents and businesses to migrate to the edge of the waterfront in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some visionary."

Put simply, there was no plan for this level of disaster-and no chain of command in place to deal with the fact that there was, well, no plan:

"He said storm damage, power outages and dropping temperatures might mean as many as 40,000 New Yorkers would need to be relocated—a number he incorrectly compared to Katrina, which forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes. But it’s a politically smart comparison: given how badly local, state, and federal officials botched the preparation for and response to that storm, it sets a low bar for New York’s response.

Officials were working hard, Bloomberg said, but didn’t have a plan in place yet. "We don't have a lot of empty housing in this city," he said. "We are not going to let anybody go sleeping in the streets. We're not going to let anybody go without blankets, food and water, but it's a challenge and we're working on that."

This from the managerial genius who we overturned term limits so he could have a third bite at the Big Apple. Siegel deserves and gets the last word:

"What I am asking—and will happily update if the official or anyone else in the Bloomberg administration cares to respond—is how the man who’s now painting himself as a global-warming visionary (an issue where my sympathies and beliefs are with him, incidentally), who’s compared climate change to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, failed to mention or plan for even the prospect of such an event over 11 years in office.

Heck of a job, Bloomberg."