It was announced yesterday that “Federal prosecutors [have] opened a criminal probe into allegations sanitation workers conspired to paralyze [New York City] in last week’s blizzard, sources said.” The investigation falls on the heels of a disastrous cleanup effort from public servants in New York City. “Complaints were flooding in from all over the city about snow-clogged roads and AWOL plows.”
Of course, Mayor Bloomberg, who is in the midst of the traditional terrible New York City mayor third term curse, has been glossing over accusations that workers purposely did a poor job of cleanup. “We will go back and look over all the details of that,” he said, but added “we did what we could do.” Bloomberg said all the Broadway shows are going on and suggested that New Yorkers should venture out to see one. That drew some pointed criticism. “Did he really say that, go see a show? I wonder what city the mayor is reporting from?” asked City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who said he spent between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. shoveling snow in Astoria outside his home, and his dad’s and neighbors’. “In that entire time, I haven’t seen a single plow – except the one that crashed into a car and has been stuck, since before 6 a.m., at 21st Street and 21st Drive,” Vallone said. “In past snow storms, other plows would have come through by now.” And the frustration of New Yorkers has only been augmented by the absence of explanation for these disasters.
If it is the case that these “public servants” (read: looters) truly did jeopardize the cleanup, endangering taxpayers, I have little hope. We have come a very long way from the age of Calvin Coolidge who, in 1919 as Governor of Massachusetts, brought down the Boston Police Department’s attempt at unionizing after they participated in a widespread strike. Coolidge saw the slippery slope public unions create, leading to problems like the blizzard disaster of 2010. In a famous telegraph to Samuel Gompers, then head of the AFL, Silent Cal wrote:
“Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot justify the wrong of leaving the city unguarded. That furnished the opportunity; the criminal element furnished the action.There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time. … I am equally determined to defend the sovereignty of Massachusetts and to maintain the authority and jurisdiction over her public officers where it has been placed by the Constitution and laws of her people.”
Coolidge’s actions against the efforts of the Boston Police propelled his popularity, culminating in his appointment to the Vice Presidency in 1920 and, later, his 1924 election to the Presidency. Could we find a leader like that today? Not in New York, but maybe in New Jersey….