Council Holds Hearing on Administration’s Response to the Blizzard

The New York City Council held a hearing today on the Bloomberg administration’s response to the blizzard.  The hearing began at 11:00 this morning and at the time of the publication of this blog post (seven half hours later), it still has not ended.  We were live tweeting throughout the morning.  You can read our Twitter feed for the minute-by-minute updates.


Photo by Richard Perry/The New York Times.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and the Commissioners of the Department of Sanitation, the Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Department, who testified and answered Council Member’s questions, offered apologies and admitted openly that the response to the storm was unacceptable.  They also shared some of the information regarding conversations happening behind the scenes in the days leading up to and following the storm.

Testimony and responses to the questions exposed a serious lack of coordination and communication between our city’s agencies, which severely limited their ability to respond effectively to the storm and deploy all the necessary resources.

Due to the length of today’s hearing, public sessions have been scheduled for each borough.  We urge our constituents to attend these hearings just outside of our district in Manhattan and the Bronx:

  • Manhattan: Thursday, January 20th, 6:00 pm
    Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building
    163 W. 125th Street
  • The Bronx: Monday, January 24th, 6:00 pm
    Hostos Community College, Savoy Building D
    120 E. 149th Street (btwn Walton and Gerard Avenues)

Among the information revealed during questioning was that Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were responsible for making the decision not to call a snow emergency, which among other things, would have required cars to be moved off of the city’s main streets.  Deputy Mayor Goldsmith indicated that declaring a snow emergency could have facilitated a quicker response to the storm.  The Commissioners, however, made this determination without consulting Mayor Bloomberg or the Deputy Mayor.

The administration released its preliminary internal review of the snow response, which includes a 15-point reform plan to improve the City’s ability to handle major snow storms.  You can download the report by clicking here.

These are only a few highlights from today’s hearing.  Please visit our Twitter page for additional highlights.  You can also click here to see many of the Twitter posts from Melissa’s Council colleagues, the press and members of the public about today’s snow hearing (those who used the #snowhearing tag).

The New York Times City Room Blog also was blogging live throughout the day.  You can see that article here.

We will keep the blog updated on the Council’s continued efforts to get to the bottom of what went wrong in the last storm and ensure that it never happens again.


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