Mayor Michael Bloomberg effectively deployed city crews to clear snow from streets this week, but can he dig himself out of the public-opinion hole he’s buried in?
Observers say his nimbler response to this latest snowstorm – which dumped close to 9 inches in the city overnight Tuesday – should take the heat off.
While the storm lacked the punch of the Dec. 26 blizzard, the city responded with 1,700 snowplows and other equipment to ensure roads weren’t jammed with stuck vehicles and most secondary streets were plowed by 7 a.m. (The storm’s cost is still being tallied, but the city has already exhausted its storm budget of $38.8 million this season.)
Still, if Bloomberg wants to cement a vaunted reputation by the time he leaves office, this one victory won’t do it, said David Birdsell, a Baruch College political analyst.
“The city did an excellent job in making sure that no flake was left behind this time, but it won’t make people less likely to jump on (Bloomberg) if he still appears aloof,” he added.
Appearing out of touch got the mayor a lot of jeers during last month’s storm, when he was reportedly vacationing out of town, possibly Bermuda, and was not kept in the loop about key operational decisions.
After the storm, Bloomberg’s approval rating fell to an all-time low of 37 percent.
Furthermore, the mayor’s administration has been plagued by other bad publicity – most recently the CityTime payroll scam and his controversial decision to appoint former publisher Cathie Black as schools chancellor.
GOP consultant Jim McLaughlin said “Bloomberg fatigue” has set in with the mayor now in his 10th year of being in office.
“I think he’s been a pretty good mayor, but he has got to be perceived as in charge, working on the budget and working on the economy,” McLaughlin said.
Joseph Mercurio, a Democratic consultant, said problems that have besmirched the mayor’s reputation as a solid manager are damaging.
“He’s going to get second guessed a lot more,” Mercurio said.
When asked by reporters Wednesday if the city’s performance in Tuesday’s storm gave him the opportunity to redeem himself, a clearly more relaxed Bloomberg said with a chuckle: “I don’t know that I feel redeemed — I feel relieved”.