Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blizzard baby's funeral highlights Bloomberg's failure to effectively manage city during snowstorm

Michael Daly

Tuesday, January 4th 2011, 4:00 AM

A newborn baby died after her mother gave birth in a vestibule during the snowstorm. Ambulances were delayed because of the weather.
Hondros/Getty
A newborn baby died after her mother gave birth in a vestibule during the snowstorm. Ambulances were delayed because of the weather.

Monday, a hearse bore the blizzard baby's tiny remains the 11 blocks from Interfaith Medical Center to the House of Hills funeral home.

The death certificate recorded only a surname for this girl born in a Brooklyn apartment building's vestibule, where the mother was forced to seek refuge from the storm.

The official cause of death will not be entered until tests determine if the baby was able to take even a single independent breath.

But the primary contributing causes certainly must include the city's failure to clear the streets so the mother could reach the hospital in time.

The responsibility for that ultimately rests with the man who so often extols the magic of management, Mayor Bloomberg.

He must have been unaware of the magnitude of the city's failure when a reporter asked if he had any regrets.

"I regret the whole world," he said sarcastically, his words indelible.

Also responsible is the man in charge of city operations, Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. He is in the midst of "reengineering" the Sanitation Department, but felt no need to rush back to the city from Washington when the blizzard threatened.

"GOOD SNOW WORK BY SANITATION," he tweeted just as indelibly.

In a sense, Goldsmith was not completely wrong.

Those almost certainly not to blame are the sanitation workers who were out there trying to clear the streets after City Hall's disastrous refusal to declare a snow emergency.

I think too highly of the mayor to believe he is party to an effort to shift blame to the working stiffs. Whoever is party to it has spread rumors that there was a slowdown in response to the city's plan to demote 100 sanitation supervisors.

Never mind that the demotion plan was announced back in October and that the sanitation crews had just kept doing their thankless job without a slowdown for week after week.

The mayor spoke of them with the highest regard Dec. 21, after 39-year-old sanitation worker Angel Roldan was struck by a car and killed outside his Bronx garage.

"Sanitation workers have a vitally important job that they perform regardless of the bitter cold or sweltering heat," Bloomberg said.

The blizzard hit five days later, subsiding the next morning. Roldan's wake was held at the Montera Funeral Home in the Bronx that afternoon, and Bloomberg managed to attend, respectfully sitting in his Suburban under the elevated Deegan Expressway until the family arrived.

Bloomberg was then able to circle through the boroughs, from Ozone Park to Bay Ridge to Staten Island. The major highways and roads along the way were clear enough to allow passage and perhaps give a false impression of the city's condition.

Bloomberg encountered a whiteout on the Belt Parkway but was able to proceed.

It would have been hard to imagine that right about then in an unplowed zone of Brooklyn a woman who could not reach the hospital was giving birth in a vestibule to a doomed child.

Tissue samples will allow the medical examiner to enter an official cause of death.

The cause of the failure to clear the streets will be harder to determine. As unlikely as it seems, it is possible a tiny minority of disheartened sanitation supervisors did give less than their all.

Even so, the blame ultimately lies with those at the top, not with workers whose dedication even the mayor praised at Roldan's wake.

mdaly@nydailynews.com



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/01/04/2011-01-04_blizzard_babys_funeral_highlights_bloombergs_failure_to_effectively_manage_city_.html#ixzz1A4q7AhDS
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