Criticism of mayor's storm response snowballs

The word 'HELP' is written on the window

The word 'HELP' is written on the window of a car covered in snow on West 73rd Street in NYC. (Dec. 28, 2010) (Credit: Getty Images)

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Map: Snow totals, Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard

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With more snow in the forecast and investigations continuing into the city's snow removal effort, Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to some critics to be digging himself into a deeper hole on the Christmas blizzard.

Bloomberg's office Wednesday refused to say where he was in the hours before a blizzard warning was declared by the National Weather Service on Christmas afternoon.

"At 4 p.m. [December 25], the mayor didn't have a public schedule. We don't talk about events that aren't on the public schedule," mayoral spokesman Jason Post told Newsday Wednesday in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Fire Department of New York's Emergency Medical Service Command was replaced yesterday amid investigations into a backlog of more than 1,000 emergency calls during the blizzard.

Abdo Nahmod, who has been overseeing the department's Emergency Medical Dispatch, will take over the post from John Peruggia, who held the top job for six years, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano announced.

The mayor's response to the storm, said Rogan Kersch, professor of public policy at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, only serves to make him seem detached from the public's suffering.

"Had he been issuing a stream of concerned messages and reassuring the city that he shared [their] irritation or concern, I don't think it matters if the messages came from Aruba or Zimbabwe," said Kersch.

But Bloomberg didn't appear to be attentive or sympathetic in the blizzard, and that hurt him, said Kersch.

"The problem this illustrates is that Mike Bloomberg is not one of us," said Doug Muzzio, professor of political science at Baruch College.

City council public safety committee chairman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who will be chairing a hearing Monday on the city snow removal mess, said he is planning to propose a new law requiring the city clerk or the council be notified when the mayor is out of town.

Vallone also told Newsday that he met with some sanitation workers who have spoken with the Queens district attorney's office and the city Department of Investigation about an alleged planned work slowdown, which he said caused loss of life.

With Maria Alvarez

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