In Blizzard's Wake, A City Council "Shame" List Emerges

City Hall (Source: council.nyc.gov)

With just about all of the roads finally clear, outrage at the city’s bungled response to the December 26 blizzard is now spreading beyond the Mayor’s office and the Sanitation Department. Flatbush Scoop, a blog owned by Yeshiva World News, is laying into our local City Council representatives for being MIA as residents struggled to cope.

They give high marks to Councilman David Greenfield, who was caught on video blasting the city’s response and the decision to clear bike lanes before residential streets. But other councilmembers received scathing reviews:

We at FlatbushScoop.com were shocked when we reached out to all the local Council Members representing the Jewish areas that were hard-hit by the Bloomberg Blizzard. We expected them to at the very least have staff answer our phone calls. Sadly, many were on vacation or simply did not answer the phone. Please don’t forgot that these politicians were NOT THERE FOR YOU next time these politicians ask for your vote.

Flatbush Scoop also put together a shame list of four local representatives – three of whom represent parts our coverage area – that were on vacation or otherwise unavailable during the storm.

FLATBUSHSCOOP.COM’S SHAME ON YOU LIST:
1. Brad Lander – Councilman Lander’s Boro Park portion of his district was hard-hit. On Monday his office wasn’t event taking phone calls. On Tuesday, when we asked for the Councilman we were told he was on vacation!
2. Mike Nelson – There were rumors of Councilman Nelson sighting this week but we called his office every single day this week and couldn’t get through even once!
3. Domenic Recchia – Councilman Recchia had some of the worst snow-piled streets in his Gravesend district. While some people told us they saw Recchia in the beginning of the week, his office was closed!
4. Lew Fidler – Councilman Fidler was on vacation this week. Enough said.

At Sheepshead Bites, we had a similar experience. We reached out to Councilman Nelson via phone for his reaction to the city’s blizzard management, but no one answered our calls.

As for Councilman Lew Fidler, we did reach him by e-mail and shared an exchange on an unrelated issue. His staff issued a statement on Thursday that was a combined statement to the mayor from Councilmembers Fidler, Greenfield, James and Williams that was highly critical of the storm response. In part, it noted, “It is our job to pass legislation, help our constituents deal with government and to inform you of the conditions on the ground. It’s your job to run the city and clean our streets. We have been doing our job. It’s about time that you started doing yours.”

But Fidler issued an addendum to that statement:

Clearly the City’s response to this blizzard has not been up to standards that New Yorkers deserve. My office fielded well over 200 calls. We forwarded every one of those locations to the local Sanitation districts and to the Mayor’s Office. We were pleased when our efforts…and those of my colleagues…resulted in the re-deployment of several additional plows to Southern Brooklyn this afternoon with the promise that every street would be plowed by 7 PM tonight [Wednesday]. Better late than never….but Brooklynites deserved better.

When Sheepshead Bites informed the councilman’s staff that by Thursday night, many streets in and around Sheepshead Bay remained unplowed, contrary to the promises from Sanitation and Mayor Bloomberg, and advised he amend his statements, we received no reply.

So we have to agree with Flatbush Scoop’s shame list. Our City Councilmembers were woefully absent during a time we needed them most. To give credit where credit is due, Fidler was in touch with us where Nelson wasn’t – but his response was  not in line with the facts on the ground.

Moving forward, the City Council is gearing up for action. A hearing will be held on January 10 at 1 p.m. to review the city’s response, and they’ll be questioning officials about what went wrong, why so many neighborhoods were neglected, and how to better prepare in the future.

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