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De Blasio Faces Scrutiny Over Storm Response on Upper East Side

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Three weeks into his new job, it's baptism not by fire, but by snow, for Mayor Bill de Blasio. After getting high marks for his handling of a blizzard in his first week in office, it was a different story for this week's storm. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Another day, another snowstorm for the new mayor.

"Do not use your back," de Blasio said while shoveling in front of his home Wednesday. "Get low. Use your knees. It's the best way to shovel properly."

Snow-clearing across the city may be less forgiving.

The New York Post headline raised concerns that the Upper East Side got left out because of its politics.

"They're just mistaken," de Blasio said. "No one was treated differently. We believe in a five-borough approach. That's in everything we do."

Nevertheless, the mayor made an unannounced visit to that very neighborhood Tuesday to talk to local residents about the storm.

Aides insisted it was not an apology tour, but de Blasio later released a statement, saying that the city could have done a better job cleaning up the neighborhood.

"After hearing concerns about street conditions on the Upper East Side, I headed to the area to survey the streets for myself, and to hear from residents directly. While the overall storm response across the city was well-executed, after inspecting the area and listening to concerns from residents earlier today, I determined more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side," de Blasio's statement read. "I have instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to double-down on cleanup efforts on the Upper East Side, and as a result, 30 vehicles and nearly 40 sanitation workers have been deployed to the area to finish the cleanup. Our crews will remain on the streets around the clock until the roadways are clear in every neighborhood, in every borough, across New York City."

There was also griping that de Blasio kept schools open. Some of the complaints apparently reached de Blasio at home.

"There were many students hoping for a snow day. One of those students resides in my home," de Blasio said. "I had to make the call to disappoint him last night and tell him that the right thing to do was to keep school open."

De Blasio came to office amid criticism that he lacked management experience. To help him through the transition, he's kept several high-profile commissioners from the Bloomberg administration. They flanked him at a snow-related news conference at a Brooklyn EMS station.

"We have our input. We give our institutional knowledge. We've been around a long time, myself, John Doherty, Joe Bruno," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano. "But at the end of the day, it's his call, but he does ask for our input, and he took charge."

Is de Blasio showing strain under the stress? He seemed upbeat as he shoveled snow, or as happy as someone is as he shovels snow when it's freezing outside.

Speaking to reporters later, he noted that New Yorkers have a rich history of criticizing mayors for how they clear snow.

"From my point of view, it's what you sign up for," he said.

Mind your back, Mr. Mayor. It's only mid-January.

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