22 January 2014, 17:14

Plowing across class lines: de Blasio takes heat for snow removal

By Vasili Sushko

WASHINGTON (VR) – New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio is facing criticism today for the city’s efforts in cleaning New York’s wealthy neighborhoods.

Residents in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, home of former mayor Michael Bloomberg, are claiming that their neighborhood was one that was plowed least during yesterday’s snowstorm. Earlier today the mayor dismissed those claims. New York correspondent Vasili Sushko reports.

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As New York City was being hit with a snowstorm, hundreds of plows and salt spreaders were on the streets clearing the roads, but some are accusing New York City mayor Bill de Blasio of giving some neighborhoods special treatment while ignoring others, such as the one where resides former mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Sanitation workers are on full mobilization right now.” – Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor, speaking during a press conference Tuesday evening.

While extra resources were certainly allocated to help deal with Wednesday’s near blizzard conditions, which dropped about a foot of snow in some places in New York City, some neighborhoods certainly didn't appear to reap the spoils.

According to the city’s website that tracks snow plows and their progress, as of 10pm Wednesday, a portion of 79th Street, which happens to be location of former Mayor Bloomberg, wasn’t plowed since 3:30 pm earlier that day.

New Yorkers in the neighborhood who spoke to WCBS-TV, said the conditions in the Upper East Side were treacherous.

“Mayor, if you’re listening, please plow the streets. None of the streets have been plowed, no matter which way you go, it’s like this everywhere. I guess the Mayor is focusing more on the other boroughs like last time.” – Sonny Budharaja, New Yorker speaking with WCBS-TV

Back in 2010, Bloomberg faced similar allegations of plowing the city according to class lines. Bloomberg’s street following a 2010 blizzard was cleared in a matter of hours while streets in surrounding boroughs were left untouched for days. With the tables turned, many Upper East Side residents who spoke to the New York Post, said this is blatant retaliation.

“He is trying to get us back. He is very divisive and political.” – Molly Jong told the New York Post.

De Blasio is trying to hurt the more wealthy people by ignoring us but there’s no logic to that. There are a lot of blue collar working people out here driving trucks and trying to get around too.” – Martin Cisse told the New York Post.

When asked about the Upper East Side situation during a press conference Tuesday evening, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said that a faulty GPS tracking device, mixed in with heavy traffic, was what caused many of the issues in the area.

“One of the problems was that the salt spreader in that area, the GPS system was not working. If you look back at that snow tracker right now, you’re going to see a lot of green on there and traffic also created a big problem for us in that area.” – John Doherty, Commissioner of Sanitation

Mayor de Blasio was pressed on the same situation during a press conference Wednesday morning in which the Mayor dismissed claims that any particular neighborhood was targeted or ignored.

“I think people need to mindful when they hurl those charges. It’s not real respectful of the men and women who work so hard as sanitation. They were out there in force in every neighborhood. What happened was the snow hit right before rush hour in some parts of the city where obviously there was a high concentration of vehicles. It created a real jam up and it had to be worked through.” – Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor.

City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents constituents in Manhattan, told 1010 WINS that he would believe the Mayor, if it weren’t “so many complaints from people about the absence of plows.”

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