After a very snowy few months, the Sanitation Department has a new commissioner. Mayor de Blasio is tapping Kathryn Garcia, chief operating officer at the Department of Environmental Protection. She takes over for John Doherty, who spent 51 years at the department, and was the agency's longest serving commissioner. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.
With winter's wallop finally ending, Mayor Bill de Blasio is tapping someone new to head the Sanitation Department. Both are hoping it will be months before she calls out the snowplows.
"Sanitation I have always found is going to hear from the public as soon as a single snowflake is not picked up within 22 seconds of having fallen on the ground,” said Garcia.
You don't need to remind John Doherty.
After snow fell on the city in January, fault for a slow cleanup landed on the outgoing commissioner and some thought de blasio left him unfairly flapping in the chilly breeze.
Now hizzoner calls Doherty a New York hero.
"The way I look at it, I get why people are upset. You really can't take it too personally, our job is to show them that every effort is being expended,” de Blasio said.
Garcia's appointment comes at a changing time in the Department of Sanitation, with more emphasis on recycling and on composting.
She will have to push through an Upper East Side waste transfer station and expired labor contracts.
"I think Mayor de Blasio is looking for someone who has a strong sense of environmental mission, environmental vision, but also knows the operation side of Sanitation, which is essential to the job,” said Robin Nagle, a Sanitation Department anthropologist.
A Brooklyn native and Stuyvesant High graduate, Garcia was vice president of the non-profit consulting and advocacy group Appleseed.
But Sanitation is where it all started.
"She began as a bright eyed 22-year old serving as an intern in the commissioner's office,” said de Blasio.
Garcia won't be its first woman to head Sanitation; Emily Lloyd was commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins.
But there's a message still.
"Across the city women should feel that these jobs that have historically been dominated by men are really great opportunities for them,” Garcia said.
No doubt upon seeing who is the new commissioner, some women will realize that they too could be among New York's “Strongest.”