Tuesday, July 25, 2006


So Much For Management...

Michael Bloomberg has had a successful mayoralty by trying to run the city as he did his business -- particularly demanding accountability from his agency commissioners. Yet, his instincts completely failed him yesterday in going to the mattresses for the president of the Con Ed utility company and his handling of a partial blackout in the borough of Queens.

As Mayor Bloomberg issued a passionate defense yesterday of Con Edison boss Kevin Burke, three Queens elected officials stood right behind him, making their displeasure visibly evident for all the cameras to see. "Kevin Burke deserves a thanks from this city. He's worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at Con Ed," Bloomberg declared.
If the issue here was that the power went out and the company took more time than expected in getting things up to par, that would have been fine. Frustrating to the residents, yes, but still understandable.

What wasn't understandable -- or excusable -- was that the utility said only 2,000 customers were affected, when the true number was closer to 100,000.

As the mayor spoke, Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who lived without power for a week, reacted as though he had swallowed a bee.

"Has he not seen what we've been seeing for a week?" Gianaris fumed after Bloomberg had spoken. "Has he not seen what's been reported about the lies they told both to him and to the rest of the city about how many people were affected for days and days and days? This is just astounding to have stood there and heard that."

Gianaris called Bloomberg's defense of Burke "an amazing head-in-the-sand moment."

Unaware that Gianaris and City Councilmen Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) were showing their disdain, Bloomberg then took a veiled shot at the trio for their calls for Burke to step down.

"Going after the CEO just because somebody wants to have somebody to blame doesn't make a lot of sense," Bloomberg insisted.
Well, yeah, Mr. Mayor, but if the CEO is speaking squarely, then yes, you go after him. As clueless moments goes, this is the "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job," of 2006.

Now, Con Ed is an independent utility, so Burke doesn't report to Bloomberg -- but that doesn't prevent the mayor from using his bully pulpit to voice his own outrage at a situaion that left residents without power and in sweltering heat for nearly a week.

Indeed, the mayor has ended up looking pretty much in the dark himself.

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