De Blasio calls incompetent response to NYC snow storm 'bad luck'

The Gothamist is calling it "one of the worst traffic jams in New York history." When 6 inches of snow blanketed the NY city area, life came to a virtual standstill. One private school sent an email to students who had been sitting on buses for hours, telling older students to 'make a circle, facing outward" so that younger kids could relieve their bladders.

Lord knows what drivers who had been sitting in their cars for many hours were supposed to do.

Residents of the midwest, used to snowy winters, might be perplexed as to why a mere 6 inches of snow would paralyze a major city. In a word, incompetence.

Mayor Bill De Blasio's city government not only failed to anticipate a storm that had been predicted for 24 hours, the response was so inadequate that even the liberal media is wondering how this could happen.

As the weather heats up and the city becomes one giant pile of slush, New Yorkers are beginning to look for answers about why six inches of snow caused the city to grind to a haltafter yesterday’s freak November snow storm. Their questions include why the city’s buses did not have snow chains on their wheels, why salt spreaders were unable to reach large portions of the city, and how a rush hour storm was able to generate gridlock that cascaded from the George Washington Bridge all the way to southern Brooklyn.

“We got 6 to 7 inches of snow, which was a record,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told reporters at a press conference in front of a fallen tree branch in Chelsea this afternoon. “But it was still only six inches of snow. We’re New York City, we get blizzards. Twelve inches — fourteen inches — two feet of snow! We should have been prepared to deal with six inches of snow even if it was a record.”

Traffic expert Sam Schwartz said Thursday’s storm created one of the worst traffic jams in New York City history. “Yesterday wasn’t just a city breakdown it was a breakdown of the entire region. In fact I’d say this is going to make it into my list of top 10 gridlock days I’ve seen,” he told WNYC / Gothamist. 

Schwartz compared the city’s paralysis as comparable to a snow storm in Atlanta in 2014 that left motorists stranded and freezing on highways. He also believes the optics are as bad for Mayor Bill de Blasio as they were for Mayor John Lindsay in 1969, whose own mayoralty was left permanently stained by an ineffective response to a nor’easter that left 42 people dead.

All fingers are pointing right at De Blasio, who gave a hilarious interview to NY1 in which he blamed the incompetent response on "bad luck."

REPORTER: “Mayor de Blasio, this is slush today, but yesterday the city was at a standstill.”

DE BLASIO: “Pat, it was horrible. I am upset the way everyone else is upset. I was out in the middle of traffic stuck with everyone else. It was a horrible experience and I totally understand why people are so frustrated from it. We had here — I don’t want to use an overused phrase, but we had something of a perfect storm. A bunch of things came together very suddenly, not just the weather. Obviously, the closure of the George Washington bridge, I certainly can’t remember that happening previously, you know, in the middle of what seemed to be a pretty normal day. That really threw everything off. That had a horrible chain reaction on the entire city. So this was a bad, bad situation. There are definitely some things we need to learn from this and some things we need to do better. But it’s also important to note that, you know, we got just about every form of bad luck we could have gotten yesterday. The weather service reports changed radically late in the morning yesterday.”

REPORTER: “Yeah, you didn’t get a great forecast. But we do have to be ready for the forecast to be wrong, and it didn’t seem like the plows got out there fast enough.”

To be fair, New York rarely has to deal with six inches of snow and the city's snow removal efforts are geared far more to the more common 2-4 inch storms that hit the city. 

But the Gothamist's points about lack of simple preparation are well taken. In 1979, politicians in Chicago learned that lesson the hard way.

In that year, the lack of response to a 29 inch snowstorm enraged Chicagoans. While Mayor Michael Bilandic had somewhat the same problem that De Basio had with a lack of equipment that could handle the once in a decade storm, he made it worse by going to Florida for a "conference" while city residents were unable to get out of their homes.

As a result of his extremely poor choices and his constant reassurances that things were getting better when they weren't, Bilandic was ousted in the Democratic primary by a little known woman, Jane Byrne. She ran a campaign using the snowstorm as a prop and easily defeated the incumbent.

De Blasio probably doesn't have to worry about that. He's not up for re-election for 4 years. But blaming "bad luck" for his incompetent response - and then having few media outlets calling him out for his lame excuse - could only happen in New York.

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