As we pause to dig ourselves out from last night’s imaginary blizzard, let’s go easy on Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo for throwing incaution to the wind and shutting down the region’s transportation network. They were listening to the experts – the weathermen whose forecasts sometimes remind us that while meteorology is a science, it’s very far from an exact one.
Their behavior is especially understandable because both Cuomo and de Blasio have received some political ice burns for sniffling at snowflakes in the past. The governor seemed ambushed late last year when Buffalo was hit by a massive blizzard while de Blasio received a baptism by snow in his first two months in office. It’s clear that neither of them will ever look at Al Roker in quite the same way again.
But both men also need to bury their snow hatchets and be on the same page during a crisis, appearing together and speaking to New Yorkers with one voice. Some weird Cuomo-de Blasio public one-upmanship was on full display yesterday as both offices scheduled simultaneous briefings about the storm, forcing media outlets to choose between Mommy or Daddy. While the offices finally staggered their events apart, it still made little sense to have the governor talk about shutting down the subways in one press conference while the mayor then separately discussed his order to close the city’s roadways. Most New Yorkers have no clue who runs the trains or streets – they just want to get to work.
And de Blasio would have been wise to put his love for the national spotlight aside this morning and address all New Yorkers in the wake of the storm – rather than have a cup of coffee with CNN. It was an odd time to give an exclusive when people watching lots of other channels – including ours – would have welcomed more information from the city’s leader.
Luckily for all of us, the storm was largely a bust. But whatever behind-the-scenes squabbling is going on between Cuomo and de Blasio will hopefully end before New York is hit by a real blizzard.