Bloomberg Credit: Office of the Mayor

With Hurricane Irene poised to lash New York City this weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also needs to worry about the political bashing he might face if the city’s response flounders.

Indeed, observers said Thursday that his mayoral reputation was on the line, following a bungled response to last year’s post-Christmas blizzard that dampened the start of his third term.

“Politically, [Bloomberg] needs to show that the city has recovered from the storm debacle last December and there’s a clear and hands-on managerial style,” said David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.

Bloomberg and members of his administration were socked with criticism after that snowstorm that left streets unplowed for days and emergency vehicles stuck.

The mayor was not in the city, and had reportedly been vacationing in Bermuda. His No. 2 – Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith – was at his Washington, D.C., home during the storm and caught flak for tweeting, “Good snow work.”

Goldsmith resigned earlier this month after 14 months on the job.

This time, Bloomberg had to come out ahead of the storm, Birdsell said, otherwise he would be accused of being inattentive. He added that the mayor already “paid the price” in the polls for his handling of the blizzard.

Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton), whose district is along Jamaica Bay, was among the council members who felt “abandoned” by the city in December. He said he doesn’t want to see residents left behind if evacuations occur.

“From what I’m hearing, the mayor has learned bitter lessons and he appears to be taking these things seriously,” Sanders said. “He’s doing all the right moves to ensure government doesn’t turn tail and run.”

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