Ben Smith on Blame and the Snowstorm

News // Only in NY

In case you missed it, Politico’s Ben Smith had a post up last week with some interesting observations about Mayor Mike’s staffing changes and how they may have impacted city government’s effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with the post-snowstorm cleanup last week. Key quote:

Having covered Bloomberg’s City Hall for a few years, and still talking pretty regularly to people who know it better, the real issue seems to be the structure of the administration. Bloomberg had, until recently, had deputies whose jobs were, basically, running the city. When Marc Shaw and then Ed Skyler left, Bloomberg filled the slot  of deputy mayor for operations with Goldsmith. But Goldsmith is  a policy intellectual whose real charge was thinking deep thoughts, not keeping his finger on the pulse of the Sanitation Department. Going down the list, another deputy, Patti Harris, is the longtime keeper of Bloomberg’s personal and social power; Robert Steel is an economic development dealmaker; Linda Gibbs runs social services; Dennis Walcott serves as a kind of diplomat and manager of political crises; an Carol Robles-Roman has never had a broad managerial portfolio.

That means that, as Bloomberg has looked nationally over the past year, he’s allowed the management of the city to slide back into the bureaucracy a bit. Nobody who reports directly to him, even, has his or her hand on the actual levers of running the city. And while much of the bureaucracy is quite competent, the key gap in the response to the storm seems to have been the urgent push from the top.

Ben Smith’s Blog: Who to Blame in New York