Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed Monday the controversy surrounding his whereabouts during the December blizzard, after the Wall Street Journal published a story that essentially confirms that he was in Bermuda during the storm.
The mayor reiterated that where he goes when he does not have a public schedule is private and that he is not required to disclose his whereabouts.
“The mayor has to be able to have a private life and not disclose where he is,” said Bloomberg. “We’ve set up a policy day one, we’re going to tell you whenever there’s a public event. And I can guarantee you the mayor is always in control and there are always people here. Even if the mayor wasn’t in contact, there’s an executive order that lays it out clearly who’s in charge.”
As part of an exhaustive review of the federal records for Bloomberg’s private planes, the Journal reports one of the mayor’s planes left for Bermuda at 9 a.m. on Christmas Day. That plane returned to New York at 2:49 pm on December 26th.
The Journal says that return flight to LaGuardia was the last private plane allowed into LaGuardia before it was forced to shut down because of the storm.
The mayor made a public appearance a short time later.
Bloomberg said that he has never deputized anyone to be mayor while he was away.
He said that he pays for lodging and food for the police escort whenever he is traveling for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, a potential City Council bill would require the mayor to notify the City Clerk every time he leaves the five boroughs.
"It was kind of brought to our attention during the snowstorm that the chain of command is something that isn't always established and needs to be," said City Councilman Peter Vallone Junior.
Bloomberg says his first deputy mayor, Patti Harris, is in charge if he's unable to exercise his duties. The mayor also insists that has never happened because he's surrounded by state of the art communication -- something Vallone, Jr. says may not be good enough, especially in an emergency.
"We can't waste seconds trying to figure out who has the authority, an immediate order here on the streets of New York City," said the Councilman.
"I think there are a lot of situations where you need a human being on the spot, and not a voice over the cellphone," said Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Bloomberg says there will be no compromise on legislation that would require the mayor to put the City Clerk on notice when he's out of town.