On Friday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to begin his third day on the job with a conference call just before dawn addressing whether or not the public schools should be closed on account of the six inches of snow they received in a recent storm. Acknowledging he did not get sleep the night before, de Blasio told reporters on Friday that having a conference at 4 a.m. was a first for him. He also said, however, that he was looking forward to serving the eight million residents of the city.
In his campaign, de Blasio vowed to take on a number of issues ranging from police and community relations to economic inequality. All of that, however, has had to be put on a hold due to the recent winter snowstorm. De Blasio had put sanitation crews to working 12-hour shifts in an effort to clear the city’s 6,200 miles of public roads with over two thousand plows from a variety of city departments. The mayor said that all of the primary roads and most of the secondary roads had been cleared. With help from private contractors, most of the tertiary roadways have also been cleared. The snow and traffic had delayed all emergency response times by sixty seconds, according to de Blasio.
Former Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, came under heavy criticism in 2010 for the way he handled a blizzard that halted several subway lines for several days. Critics said he neglected the plowing of snow in Queens and Brooklyn for too long of a time. Bloomberg responded by defending city efforts to clean up after the storm hit.
New York City sanitation commissioner, John Doherty, defended his new boss saying that his handling of the crisis has been no different from his predecessors. Quite simply, Doherty said de Blasio made it clear he wanted the streets clean as soon as possible and the sanitation teams have been hard at work doing just that.
De Blasio told reporters that he met as early as he did with advisers because of the incredibly cold temperatures. He said he wanted to make sure that children did not have to be out in the elements if it was going to cause possible harm. Closing the public schools definitely needed to be considered as an option, whether it was the third day on the job for de Blasio or not.
On Friday morning, de Blasio was seen shoveling the snow off of his own sidewalk. He told reporters that it was something he had done for years.
De Blasio may be an unknown on the national scene, but he is a 25 year veteran of New York politics. Many criticized him, wondering whether or not he had enough experience from his years on the city council or as a civic activist to run the city of New York. De Blasio is also known for running Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for the United States Senate.
De Blasio joked that his teenage son, Dante, had been lobbying him for the closing of schools. Dante had even put out on social media that several friends were asking him to see what he could do about the shutdown. Chirlane McCray, de Blasio’s wife, responded by tweeting a picture of a snow shovel and snow salts to illustrate what the young man would be doing if he did not attend school.
Polls are yet to be released on how well de Blasio is being received among the public. Beginning with the closure of public schools on his third day on the job, however, it is certain that New York City schoolchildren are receiving de Blasio well.
By Rick Hope
San Francisco Chronicle