By Melvyn Kohn
December 31, 2010
Last year while birdwathcing in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a NYC school teacher named Esther told me how much she could not stand Mayor Bloomberg. He was infringing on the Education Dept., and he has lately angered more educators with his appointment of Cathie Black, who, despite the requirement for a masters', holds no such degree - nor any experience in education.
But Black is the least of Bloomberg's concerns. Lately he has failed the city critically in that he did not ask for help when there were East Coast blizzard warnings. He had the opportunity to get more vehicles, personnel and even the National Guard. But he only called a Level 1 warning; it turned out we needed a Level 4.
I personally witnesses the disaster - buses and other vehicles were stuck for hours near Penn Station, as snowplows only made their plights worse. Up to a dozen would turn at 29th and 8th and pile 3 ft of snow in front of a bus just as it was about to dig out; the plows turned the corner to go west; others had their plows up so were not shovelling - and it has been reported by the NY Post that this was done on purpose as retaliation for demotions in the sanitation department and/or a ploy for overtime.
One plow got stuck in a parking lot on 29th on Monday morning, and a second was sent to dig it out; but not the bus, which was obstructing traffic for hours. It happened to be the NYPD graduation ceremony at Madison Sqaure Garden that morning, and recruits were getting their cars stuck on that same street. I yelled to one that if he wanted to get to the ceremony before it was over he had to back up and go through the parking lot. Some would have avoided getting stuck but for a newly drilled in respect for red lights - the more savvy went through them so as not to get stuck. You stop, you get stuck. That is the law of the road.
Other laws are going to be examined, including whether Bloomberg and his cronies (one might here pause and mention Joe Bundy, whose unit was reponsible for cutting waste and fraud, but somehow embezzled they say $80million) are failing to do their job, and, yes, this can be cosntrued as a crime in that it is 'failing to provide honest service.'
The angst of the madding crowd just might cause such a law to be enforced - vague and little used as it is. The anger is not just due to the delays of passengers - some stuck on the A train for 7 hours - or left at the aeroport for days - but because the situation broke down so badly that emergency services were undermined. Since the city did not call off its buses, 1,000 of which got stuck - and did not issue a travel advisory or order to stay off the roads - as previos administrations did - ambulances were not able to get through; Laura Freeman lost her mother, Yvonee Freeman, while waiting for EMS, and another woman lost her baby when the ambulance could not get through for 9 hours. Ben Abraham is quoted in the New York Daily News: "You have people's lives being threatened by this and there's 30 trucks just sitting there!"
So people are remembering Mayor Giuliani and his well prepared responses. They are noting that Bloomberg is 'oudahere' most Friday mornings on his private jet to go play in the Carribean.
But this is just the tip of the icerberg, of snowstorm; there are many other issues he has failed on, and the attack of bedbugs is one his administration is way out of touch with. Earlier this year a tenant took the Vigilant Hotel to court for its failure to keep clean - it does not even cover the rubbish bins in the halls - and got a court order for them to do so, as well as for them to change the drop ceiling and door to his room. They refused. Months later they are trying to take him to court for non-payment - when they have not properly registered the room and are charging more per cubic foot than the Trump Towers. Mice run free and bedbugs abound so much that one can gather thousands in a room.
The hotel is an enigma and a danger; the once evicted a US paratrooper for cleaning - the story was covered on 25 August in a lengthy front page article by the Epoch Times - but the city did nothing. It has not even enforced the orders of 10 June to put tops on rubbish bins.
Bloomberg cronie Christine Quinn was approached about this - her office is around the corner - but all that resulted from calls and emails was an email brochure telling the tenant what a bedbug looked like...as if he did not already know. Quinn, perhaps trying to distance herself from Bloomberg - has criticised him over the 'snow-job', but she does nothing for her constituents who are being endangered by the thousands of bedbugs that leave the Vigilant Hotel every week.
This bedbug case will be Bloomberg's legacy. The bugs are causing tourists to stay away, and contruction is down 24% from last year; NYC is now known as the #1 bedbug spot in the world - and this has happened under his watch. All he seems to be doing is setting up a website - anyone can do that and I recommend you go to www.bugoutter.blogspot.com to see what is being done about this unclean mess.
The Vigilant is called 'Ground Zero' by locals who know about its strange management. On 12 January we shall see what action the court takes - it may just decided to override the tenant's rights about the rent overcharge, which would be expedient for the court - and get this off its hands.
Whatever happens, we will be wathcing this and bringing it and other Bloomberg idiocy to the attention of the public here in NY.