Wednesday, December 29, 2010


New York City’s most recent blizzard may be the sixth biggest snowfall the city has ever received, but its likely the worst response on record to a blizzard by people paid to clean it up and keep things running.

More than 48 hours after snow stopped falling, many streets have not been plowed or have not been plowed sufficiently. Mounds of snow normally removed by now still remain. Sidewalks in busy areas of Manhattan (which always gets better service than the outer boroughs) are still wastelands of snow.

The city sanitation department said that they are short staffed, but another city official said that New York has the same number of workers assigned to snow removal as per usual. This could be a work slowdown ploy by sanitation workers and their union to pressure the city to restore budget cuts. Budget cuts and the intensity of the storm certainly play a role in the city’s feeble response, but after two days the city should be in much better shape than this.

Numerous city busses became stuck on unplowed roads—and we’re not talking about obscure roads or small alleys, busses were stranded on First Avenue.

Some subways became prisons. One A train was stuck in Queens for about 10 hours (I’ve been arrested twice and my total time in a holding cell for both arrests didn’t total 10 hours). Other rail lines had horror stories as well. When I arrived at the 207th St. A train station Monday morning, the stairs had not been shoveled. The Internet was alight camera phone-photos taken by incredulous commuters of snow inside train stations.

When I arrived home from work earlier tonight, cars trying to drive down my street were blocked by Parks Department vehicles. Parks Department employees milled aimlessly with shovels, ignoring the cars honking their horns trying to get down the street.

We are still cooling off under mountains of snow. When the city government collectively shits the bed at a time of disaster, heads must roll.

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