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Monday, December 27, 2010

Bloomberg's Snow Job Hurts Presidential Aspirations

Does the atrocious New York City response to the Blizzard of 2010 indicate that Mayor Bloomberg is temperamentally ill-suited to be President -- and/or managerially incapable of successfully running for President?

New York City was hit with near-blizzard conditions and about 20 inches of snow ftom midday Sunday through the overnight hours.  However, nearly 18 hours after snow stopped falling, the City's response and condition is deplorable.  Criticism of the City government's readiness is warranted. 

There was the true-life horror story of 400 people marooned on an above-ground A train in Queens for eight hours. Cardiac 911 calls are reportedly met with a three-hour wait; if true, people have surely died. (Hmmm. Wonder what the response time is of the City's new organ harvesting -- officially, the organ preservation -- unit today?)  Most major roads and highways remain impassible, virtually all bus service and above-ground subway service has been and remains suspended, and most underground subway service is running with significant delays.

This is nowhere near the first time New York has been hit with such snow.  In fact, some other storms were worse.  But never in this observer's memory has New York City been crippled like this.

This raises serious questions about the vaunted preparedness of the City's Office of Emergency Management.  The poor performance may have political ramifications.  Even worse, city officials including Mayor Bloomberg strenuously defended the indefensible, asserting the City's response was appropriate.  Instead of a contrite apology and pledge to examine procedures, City residents and commuters were met with a troubling defiance that strongly suggests that City leadership cannot tolerate -- or arrogantly believes it is above -- any criticism. 

It was obvious that the City was ill-prepared for this storm.  That fact was more appalling in light of recent history -- say, since the infamous 1972 debacle where the failure to plow side streets in the outer boroughs is widely accepted as having led directly to then-Mayor John Lindsay's defeat the next year.  Major snowfalls have traditionally been met efficiently and dispensed with rapidly by City government, especially in the last 15 years.  Anyone claiming otherwise has risked losing credibility with the news media, the public's "opinion leader" class, and the general public.  Furthermore, to claim the response was typical or sufficient is to risk insulting the intelligence and integrity of the listener.  Such a response smacks of astounding hubris, incompetence, or an indifference that indicates some people -- from Mike Bloomberg on down -- have overstayed their effectiveness and hence their welcome. 

There are ramifications from this woeful episode.  If either the incompetent crisis management indicates the true level of managerial acumen, or the aversion to legitimate, well-deserved criticism indicates the true level of organizational judgment, it would seem that Mike Bloomberg is woefully ill-prepared -- and at age 67, too old to learn new tricks -- for a presidential run in 2012.  In fact, either characteristic is a sign that Bloomberg's personal business success with his eponymous Bloomberg LP (whose radio network seems much more informative since Bloomberg left his own company) was an accident more than the product of design.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who specializes in strategic analysis of sensitive legal and personal affairs, investigations, business due diligence, transactions, and election law.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at

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