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Brooklyn Bashes Snow Response

Given a chance to speak for the first time, Brooklynites had harsh words for Mayor Bloomberg's response to the Dec. 26 snowstorm.

Armed with three minutes and a microphone, dozens of people spoke at a hearing Wednesday night and gave a personal account of how — and the city’s — affected them.  

Some scolded, others sobbed, but all shared a common complaint: that a basic human need — safety — was neglected by Mayor Bloomberg in the storm’s aftermath.

As a result, according to testimonies, lives were endangered and even lost.

"We pay taxes to be served, not violated," said Bo Samajopoulos, a carpenter of Park Slope who testified that his street wasn’t plowed for six days.

Wednesday night’s hearing at Borough Hall was the latest in a series held by city council members to examine what happened in the hours and days after 20 inches of snow was dumped on them on 

But this marked the first chance average citizens were able to voice their anger at the city.

The most emotional moment came from Robert Davis, of East Flatbush. Davis described the many 911 calls he made while his 63-year-old wife was dying of cardiac arrest. 

“She said, ‘I think I’m going to have a heart attack. Help me, please,’” Davis recounted, his voice breaking. “And then she collapsed.” 

Even after first responders arrived and pronounced her dead, Davis said, they told him they had to leave her body. 

“So I had to sit in the house with my wife all night,” he said. 

The storm stranded Fiore Simeone, an 84-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, while returning from a doctor’s appointment. The cab she was riding in with her 86-year-old brother struck a large ice boulder near her home and became stuck. 

"It was an endangerment to us and it was an offense to the whole block," Simeone said.

Many testified that many clean-up issues remain unresolved. Sharona Jones, a wheelchair-bound resident of Clinton Hill, testified that sidewalk curbs still weren’t clear in her neighborhood. 

“They always fail the disabled community,” Jones said. “I would like to think that it was just this blizzard, but every winter it's the same thing.” 

Samajopoulos, 50, who lives on 16th Street between 5th and 6th avenues in Park Slope, used his three minutes to testify about a testy exchange he had with a snowplow truck driver who sat in his truck, arms folded, for several minutes while he and his neighbors shoveled on their block.

“When you have people at the top where there’s no accountability, you can’t blame the people at the bottom for doing the same thing,” he said.

Lucy Koteen, of Fort Greene, said her block of Lafayette and Carlton Ave was plowed too thoroughly, suggesting snow removal wasn’t proportionately distributed throughout the borough. 

“My streets were plowed repeatedly,” Koteen said, who read from a diary she kept in the days after the storm. “And when I say repeatedly, I mean 40 times.”

Despite the opportunity to air their grievances, the hearings lacked important details. The testimonies weren't directly addressed by any representatives from the city's sanitation department. Instead, the Bloomberg Administration sent a lone community affairs representative, Iggy Terranova, who made a brief statement and took notes throughout. 

The city council roundly criticized Bloomberg's decision to exclude any chance for his administration to directly answer to these testimonies. "I think it's an act of great disrespect to the borough of Brooklyn," council sanitation chair Letitia James said in her opening statement.

joseph marenfeld January 20, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Mayor Bloomberg was in the Bahamas. He went away for Christmas. Its not even his holiday. He really expected his bosses to handle whatever emergency came up. Having worked for the city for 36 years, I know what he might not know. His bosses and managers are the worst the city has ever had. They couldn't manage themselves out of a paper bag. He should have been here, but he wasn't. He has become too comfortable in his position and that's the main problem. He really believes he has done a good job. I could have told you it was going to be a problem when he can't even manage to keep the streets clean or repaired.
joseph marenfeld January 20, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Mayor Bloomberg was in the Bahamas celebrating Christmas. Yeah, okay then. Problem is His bosses and managers couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag. Having worked for the NYPD Communications for 36 years I can personally testify that these "managers" are totally clueless. They are more politicians then experts in their fields. Bloomberg can't even keep the streets clean and repaired. How would ever be able to clean up the snow. Here we go again!

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