- Associated Press - Thursday, December 30, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged Thursday that the city’s response to the blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow was “inadequate and unacceptable” and said it would be reviewed, but he continued to be criticized, including by one politician sharing the spotlight with him.

At an event in Queens where Mr. Bloomberg gave an update on the cleanup to reporters, Queens borough President Helen Marshall took the microphone to say her residents need more help. “Where is the plow?” she said.

The city’s cleanup efforts, which left streets covered in snow days after the storm was over, “was slower than anyone would have liked,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

He added, “Clearly, the response to this storm has not met our standard or the standard that New Yorkers have come to expect from us.”

The Sanitation Department has plowed every city street at least once, except for those blocks where abandoned cars blocked the way, and 1,600 plows were on the roads, he said. The last of the 600 stuck buses have been cleared, as have most of the abandoned cars, he said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty (second from right) hold a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York to update New Yorkers about the city's snow-removal efforts following Sunday's blizzard. (AP Photo/Office of the Mayor, Samantha Modell)
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty (second ... more >

Asked what was different about the response to this storm as opposed to previous ones, Mr. Bloomberg said the approach had been the same.

“We went into this with the same plan, the same training if not better, the same resources if not more. The results were very different,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to take a look at.”

He said the city decided on Christmas to have workers come in the next day, when the blizzard hit, and that they had the staffing they needed. He denied that budget concerns kept the city from bringing in more resources.

“The budget had nothing to do with this. We thought we had an adequate number of people, an adequate number amount of equipment, and the right training.”

The blizzard struck days before 100 Sanitation Department supervisors in charge of coordinating the plowing fleet were scheduled to be demoted in a budget-cutting move.

The timing of the demotions, scheduled for Jan. 1, ignited speculation that disgruntled supervisors purposely sabotaged the snow removal effort in an act of revenge.

“I don’t think it took place, but we are going to do an investigation to make sure that it didn’t,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said he also was concerned but had seen no sign of a such a move. The heads of the two unions that represent Sanitation Department supervisors and rank-and-file workers said the rumors were false and insulting.

The stories of a slowdown, though, gained traction after a Republican City Council member from Queens, Dan Halloran, said he met with three sanitation workers who had complained that supervisors upset about the pending demotions had “basically been giving them a green light not to do their job.”

While no one was explicitly ordered to leave streets unplowed, Mr. Halloran said, certain supervisors had made it clear that workers who shirked their duties wouldn’t be punished.

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