NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 27: A man uses a snowblower to clear snow from the sidewalk on West 34th Street following a major blizzard on December 27, 2010 in New York City. A massive snowstorm crippled much of the Northeastern United States leaving up to a foot of snow for New York City and New England and left millions of holiday travelers stuck at airports and train stations around the eastern seaboard. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A defensive Mayor Bloomberg refused to explain why he bounced the chief overseeing city ambulances during the blizzard or to clarify whether he was even in town when the snow began falling.
At a City Hall news briefing, Bloomberg did promise the public "a great job" in handling another storm that could drop up to six inches Friday, outlined Sanitation Department changes first reported by NBCNew York and announced that 50 of the department's trucks in Brooklyn will be outfitted with GPS tracking device.
Two Sanitation chiefs in South Brooklyn are being reassigned: Assistant Chief Joseph Montgomery, who supervised 12 sanitation districts where the snow removal efforts were particularly troublesome and Deputy Chief Joseph Susol, who was on night duty during the storm.
Three out of 12 of the current districts in Brooklyn South will be transferred to the Brooklyn North command zone, which only contains six districts. City sources say the redistribution will create a better balance of districts.
In addition the department vowed to improve training for Sanitation workers. Training manuals will be updated to reflect changes in technology and equipment.
Bloomberg refused to say what Chief John Peruggia as head of the Emergency Medical Service, might have done wrong during the blizzard, especially since the heavy snow drifts caused most of the delays.
"We did not give the public the service that the public has a right to expect when it comes to ambulances and it starts with management," the mayor said.
He also declined to change his standing policy of keeping his out of town trips secret, telling a reporter: "I have a right to a private life, the same way as you do."
He also denied newspaper reports that said he had a screaming match with Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno over the city's sluggish response to the Christmas weekend blizzard, which left much of the outerboroughs buried for days.
The ensuing outcry by stranded New Yorkers invited comparisons to the infamous 1969 blizzard that forever damaged Mayor John Lindsay's reputation. Bloomberg's popularity has also suffered with his own blizzard crisis: a January 5th NY1-Marist Poll measured the mayor's approval rating at 37 percent -- his lowest since taking office.
Saying a lack of information hampered snow clearing, the mayor announced that 50 Sanitation trucks assigned to Midwood, Flatbush, Ditmas Park and Kensington will be outfitted with GPS and that roving observation teams armed with video cameras will transmit live feeds back to City Hall during the upcoming storm."We plan to do a great job, the kind of job the public has come to expect us to do," the mayor said.
He also hinted of more changes afoot before the City Council's public grilling next Monday over how and why the city failed during the blizzard.
"It's certainly not the last word on the subject," he said.
Forecasters aren't predicting another wallop, but say this new storm could dump up to six inches of snow on streets, many littered with bags of trash uncollected during the Christmas weekend monster. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said that every block should get one garbage collection by tonight.
Queens City Councilman Peter Vallone released an internal Sanitation Department memo that told crews to resume salt spreading just as the blizzard was easing -- at 4:28 a.m. on Monday Dec. 27th -- suggesting that workers hadn't been salting the streets as the snow was intensifying.
"When you are fighting a storm of this magnitude, you use every weapon you have and clearly during this storm we did not use the salt that we had,' said Vallone.
The Sanitation Department said they salted in the beginning of the storm, and then -- following proven standard procedures -- stopped when the snow was too heavy since salt is ineffective then.