Commentary Magazine


Topic: Superstorm Sandy

Bloomberg Has Time for Soda, Not 9-1-1 System

Being the mayor of New York City isn’t easy. As one of the largest cities in the world as well as one of the world’s biggest terrorism targets, a major component of the mayor’s job is making sure that the city is ready for whatever, whenever. Last year’s Superstorm Sandy was a test of the city’s preparedness and, according to a poll afterward, about 60 percent of New Yorkers felt that the city was ill-prepared for the events that transpired.

While parts of the city were thrown back to the Stone Age for several weeks, the mayor insisted on holding the New York City marathon as scheduled the weekend after the storm hit. Only after an enormous outcry, including from this blog, did the mayor reconsider the wisdom of having marathoners running through neighborhoods that had no electricity or running water for days.

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Being the mayor of New York City isn’t easy. As one of the largest cities in the world as well as one of the world’s biggest terrorism targets, a major component of the mayor’s job is making sure that the city is ready for whatever, whenever. Last year’s Superstorm Sandy was a test of the city’s preparedness and, according to a poll afterward, about 60 percent of New Yorkers felt that the city was ill-prepared for the events that transpired.

While parts of the city were thrown back to the Stone Age for several weeks, the mayor insisted on holding the New York City marathon as scheduled the weekend after the storm hit. Only after an enormous outcry, including from this blog, did the mayor reconsider the wisdom of having marathoners running through neighborhoods that had no electricity or running water for days.

After the storm, Seth wrote about how Sandy exposed the mayor’s utter failure to govern:

Stories like this one in the New York Times, which discuss the warnings that the city was vulnerable to a storm like Sandy long before this year’s hurricane hit radar screens, will likely follow Bloomberg as well. And the lack of preparation will be especially inexcusable for Bloomberg, who has stomped around claiming that the storm was a result of the very climate change he has been warning about for years. If he was so sure about coming climate change storms, why wasn’t he ready for this one?

Yesterday the New York Post reported on yet another failure of the Bloomberg administration: the failure to institute a working 9-1-1 emergency telephone system.

Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial $2 billion effort to modernize the 911 system — billed as a cure-all for every emergency-communications ill — was labeled a boondoggle by the city’s own experts two years ago, The Post has learned.

The project “does not have a defined business case” for spending $2 billion on a new 911 system, Gartner Consulting told City Hall in a March 2011 report marked “draft — confidential.”

The consultant’s 45-page report, reviewed by The Post, explained the city was wasting its money by plowing ahead without resolving key problems. It slams the high-tech system for management failures and computer glitches, and clobbers key communications officials for refusing to cooperate and, instead, battling over turf.

The consultants report also found:

* Repeated failures of the emergency-response software were reported but were not fixed.

* The NYPD refused to merge its system for dispatching units with that of the FDNY and the EMS — although that was a key reason for creating the new system. And the departments would not work together to create a unified management structure for the new system.

* The city agencies involved in the plan would not assist the system’s architects in setting up the new 911 network.

The document has not only been kept from the public but was also withheld from auditors from the City Comptroller’s Office, who spent more than a year analyzing the mammoth project.

“If the city withheld any documents from my office during the course of our audit into the 911 system, they violated the City Charter,” Comptroller John Liu told The Post. “The Bloomberg administration should know by now that it can’t sweep its wasteful projects under the rug.”

Over the past several years Nanny Bloomberg’s top priority has been telling New Yorkers what to eat, writing his opinion into law as much as possible. This week restaurants around the city are preparing for what his latest legislation, on soda, will mean for customers. This sign at Dunkin’ Donuts being posted around the city puts into perspective just how ridiculous the new regulations are. While the mayor has spent his tenure regulating diet choices, the city has been struck by a devastating storm for which it was ill-prepared and has built an expensive new 9-1-1 emergency system that cannot communicate between the police, fire and EMS departments.

Keeping the city running and building emergency preparedness mechanisms probably wouldn’t have landed Bloomberg in the papers as often, but it would have been a far more respectable legacy than the one he’s leaving behind.

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