Mayor Bill De Blasio was questioned by CBS New York’s Marcia Kramer on Monday about complaints from Staten Island residents regarding unplowed roads in in the borough that had not been cleaned up by 1pm following a snow storm.
Staten Island is the only borough of the city represented in Congress by a Republican, Congressman Michael Grimm (R – NY). Grimm was blasted by De Blasio recently for Grimm’s blow up at NY 1 reporter Michael Scotto and is calling for the House to sanction the former FBI agent. De Blasio was previously criticized by New York’s Upper East Side residents for his administration doing a shoddy snow clean up in that wealthy Manhattan neighborhood after the last blizzard that hit the city. Below is the transcript at today’s press conference:
Question: Mr. Mayor, CBS 2 has received numerous calls and complaints in the West Brighton section of Staten Island. Numbers of car accidents, streets have not been plowed [inaudible]. There are hospitals on each end of (?), apparently. The streets that are plowed right now, the complaints are, that they haven’t been [inaudible]. The question is, what will you do about it and also, there are – there are reports that the fire department might consider closing some of those streets because they’re hazardous. I wonder if you, or your fire commissioner, could comment?
Mayor: Let me let Commissioner Doherty and Commissioner Cassano speak to both. Let me just say, I would — I just came from the Sanitation Department Operation Center. Which, I have to say, is an extraordinary place, in that there is constant, direct views of different key points around the city with the cameras – in addition, of course, to the plow tracker methodology. We looked carefully at Staten Island, given some of the concerns that I had heard previously, given the concerns I heard yesterday from the elected officials. I saw a number of real-time views of Staten Island, and I thought, in general, there was some good work being doing. But let’s clarify, that’s on the primary roads. I want to make this point. I am learning about snow removal more than I ever expected to. I hope to share my knowledge with you. The first focus is on primary roads. And it has to be on primary roads. That is how everyone gets around, especially coming into a morning rush hour. That is how we keep the pathways to our hospitals open and for emergency vehicles. So, in the beginning of a storm – and I’m going to use my own words commissioner, and you can correct me as an expert. But in the beginning of a storm, the sanitation department has to over-focus on the primary roads. If we can’t get the primary roads to be very strong, nothing else works. So a lot of energy in the first hours of the storm went to the primary roads. Clearly, in many parts of our city, people are concerned about secondary and tertiary roads. I don’t blame them. I just want them to understand that our first use of the equipment is to make sure the main thoroughfares are open in every borough, and then we work from there to go deeper. But we will definitely look immediately at the concerns you’re raising about Staten Island and get an update to you and to the people of Staten Island what we’re doing to improve the situation. Let me get Commissioner Doherty to come up and then Commissioner Cassano.
Commissioner John Doherty, Sanitation: I think the Mayor pointed out what we’re doing over there. Some of the streets up there are hilly and that – this piece of Bart Avenue they said – they’re probably slippery. I don’t know exactly what time the people complained about that and – What time?
Question: One o’clock.
Doherty: Well I would – OK, so we’re – we’re working in the area. We’re working in the area. I would assume Bart Avenue is done. I don’t know exactly what’s going on over there. We’re going to look at our GPS to see what time it was done. But we’re continuing to salt and plow, and snow is continuing to come down, so it’s a never-ending process to keep going back over these roadways.
Question: Is Bart Avenue [inaudible]?
Doherty: Well, any time you’re going to [inaudible] you’re probably going to have a little slipperiness. And there is – there is a – there’s St. Vincent’s hospital down at one end down there. That’s considered the primary area right off the bat. There may be some streets in and off that that have to be plowed yet. That grade is secondary streets, as the mayor pointed out. But we’re looking at that, and we’re continually going through the primary streets.
Question: Well, is Bart Avenue a primary street?
Doherty: I believe – I believe it is. I would have to look, but I believe it is. At least down by the hospital, it is, definitely.
Commissioner Sal Cassano, Fire Department: You know Marcia, the – all of West Brighton is very hilly. Now, we wouldn’t shut any streets without conferring with the NYPD. The only reason why we would even shut a street is we had a car accident; we have to clear the car accident. So it hasn’t been brought to my attention yet that we had to reach out to the PD to shut streets. Because if we shut a street, it has a lot of ripple effects. We would shut it only to remove the car if that was the case.