No Borough Left Behind

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NEW YORK -- In New York City, there is Manhattan and everywhere else. The blizzard has served as the latest reminder of these two New Yorks.

The snowstorm pounded our city and left it in a daze. Between merciless gales and a woefully inadequate emergency response, the most devastating effect of the blizzard has been the deaths of New Yorkers—from a newborn baby to elderly persons—waiting for hours for ambulances stuck in the snow.

These tragedies and the current mayoral administration’s record of having effectively responded in the past to snowstorms have put Mayor Bloomberg, his commissioners and the MTA on the hot seat.

The upcoming City Council hearings on planning and accountability should avoid theater and get to what went wrong. How plowing fell so glaringly short in the so-called "outer" boroughs should be at the front and center of that assessment.

In a Manhattan-centric city, it is no coincidence that the majority of leaders complaining about impassable streets represent districts in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. Bloomberg’s visit yesterday to the latter borough did not cool the tempers of frustrated residents who live in areas under-served by mass transit and other services.

New Yorkers who don’t reside in Manhattan already bear unfair transportation burdens. For example, a recent U.S. Census report shows that New Yorkers of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island have the longest commute times to work. That’s not only in comparison to Manhattan but to nearly every county across the country.

The gulf between Manhattan and the rest of New York City is an unacceptable status quo. All New Yorkers deserve an adequate emergency response and the corrective measures that should come out of this bad episode.