Snow Response Puts Mayor's Vacation Policy Back in Spotlight

NYT report confirms Air Bloomberg was spotted in Bermuda on eve of blizzard

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In a press conference today, Bloomberg responds to questions about being out of town when the blizzard hit and accountability. (Published Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011)

    Just hours after the New York Times reported that Mayor Bloomberg was in Bermuda at the onset of the post-Christmas blizzard, Mayor Michael Bloomberg swatted away questions about his whereabouts.

    Bloomberg's location at the beginning of the storm has been at the center of criticism aimed at his administration for its "inadequate and unacceptable" blizzard cleanup. Yet he steadfastly refuses to give a direct answer.

    Asked again Tuesday morning where he was as the disaster began to unfold, a testy Bloomberg said, "I was totally in communications and in charge and accountable all the time and that's the way I've been for nine years."

    The question at today's briefing came in response to the Times report, published two hours earlier, that said residents on the ground in Bermuda confirmed that the mayor's private plane was spotted on the island north of the Caribbean.

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    "They say that Mr. Bloomberg’s plane arrived on the island, where he owns a large waterfront vacation home, sometime after midnight on Christmas morning. They spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of inflaming the mayor and the local authorities, who prize discretion for visiting dignitaries," according to the Times article.

    Since 2002, the mayor has adapted a policy of releasing a public schedule, but not discussing his personal life, which includes where he's vacationing and when he spends time with family. His obvious absence at the onset of one of the biggest storms in New York history, however, created new questions about that policy.

    Asked why he doesn't release a public schedule like the president does, Bloomberg said, "The problem is the mayor would have no private life, couldn't be with his kids when you have the press following you around all the time."

    "The important thing is that you are in communications, I not only have my cell phone we have a police detail with you ...," he added. "To the best of my recollection in nine years there hasn't been a time when you couldn't communicate, get me on the phone, whether I'm traveling or uptown or downtown or in Madison Square Garden tonight. Cell phones work fine there."

    But, while cell phone service is spotty, if at all available, underground, Bloomberg quipped that wouldn't stop him from taking the subway to get to work.