Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bloomberg Masterful In Superstorm Sandy Disaster, Except When He’s NOT: “Barclays” Center Promos and Global Warming

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has joined the list of New York politicians who will be remembered for their masterful no-nonsense handling of overwhelming disasters: Giuliani and Pataki preceded him with their handling of 9/11 and now Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo faced by the unprecedented inundation of New York City by superstorm Hurricane Sandy will follow. . . .

. . . Bloomberg confronted the public, reading out status reports with cool, just-the-facts-you-need in-a-disaster efficiency that will earn him positive recognition, except when he just couldn’t help himself, and strayed off course.  In the course of two back-to-back news conferences on the extraordinary disaster accompanying hurricane he twice embarrassed himself, each time taking time out from the business of the hurricane relief efforts and reports on deaths to swing into promotion for the so-called “Barclays” basketball arena (which he has started calling a “stadium”- does he think a full scale stadium could have been squeezed into the neighborhood?).

The first time, Tuesday evening, Bloomberg told the public he was looking forward to attending a Nets game at the arena the very next night (taking an early break from overseeing response to the disaster).   The second time, a scant few hours later on Wednesday afternoon, Bloomberg reversed himself, saying that the basketball game he hoped would be held Wednesday night would be postponed at his recommendation.
Bloomberg recounting that a certain news service (his own) says the the Nets game he plans to attend will be held as scheduled despite the hurricane disaster.
Here is the exchange from Tuesday evening.  It begins with a question from a female reporter amongst the press corp sent to cover the human and mega-financial disaster the city faces that was symptomatic of where the New York press’s head is at in terms of escalating the show business promotion of “Barclays” as a story that consistently trumps real news (like the political corruption that built the arena):
Female Reporter: Here in Brooklyn, [obviously- or inaudible?] there’s a big event, the Knicks vs. the Nets opening game.  I know that transportation is limited. Is that game going to be rescheduled or . . .  (inaudible as she is cut off)

Bloomberg:  I don't know.  I did see the story on a well-known news service that said (giggle*) that the NBA was going ahead with the three games, I guess tomorrow night, and they had not decided yet about Thursday night's game.  Uhm, I hope they do it. I plan to go.  It's going to be tough to get there because, remember, one of the great things about the Barclay's Center is the great mass transit that runs under it; unfortunately for the moment, not a lot is running under it.  What they are going to do, I don't know, but if it's scheduled I will go.  I think it's going to be a great arena and it's a great thing for Brooklyn, and so. . . [moves on to the next and last question]
(* What the giggle was about was Bloomberg’s amusement that the “well-known news service” to which he referred was his own company Bloomberg, L.P. and I guess he reads what his own service reports about Nets sports events even during city disasters.  Watching the video- the exchange is at 20:45 you can decide whether the sound of amusement Bloomberg makes when he obliquely refers to his conflict of interest is best described as a giggle, a small guffaw or just something of a “tssk.”)

Notably, Bloomberg’s tongue doesn’t trip at all over the “Barclays” name for the arena despite the scandal associated with the bank after which we have now named portions of the city.
Bloomberg announcing Nets game is being cancelled on his recommendation
Today at 3:14 P.M. Bloomberg completely reversed himself.  (That is, if saying you hope a game won’t be cancelled and that you will take time off from dealing with the disaster to go to it and then recommending that the game instead be cancelled amounts to a complete reversal?)  Here is what Bloomberg said after speaking about how this Halloween parents should be careful to ensure responsible trick or treating and reminding everyone that the Halloween parade had been postponed (because police officers have to do other more important things right now).  Bloomberg had already announced on Tuesday evening that the Halloween parade would be postponed.
At my recommendation the NBA has canceled tomorrow night's game between the Knicks and the Nets.  It was going to be the first Nets game in the new stadium.  Now the first Nets game will be Saturday at 7:30 at the Barclays Center.  The Nets play the Toronto Raptors and this game will be rescheduled. The NBA will be working with the city to provide extra bus services for Saturday night because the subways may not be back after that.  There is plenty of mass transit that's one of the beauties of the Barclays Center.  Unfortunately, it just . . we didn't count on Sandy.  Hopefully, Sandy doesn't come along very often.  I am sorry about the game.  I was personally going to take my daughters and Diana.  We were looking forward to it. It's a great stadium.  It would've been a great game, but the bottom line is there is not a lot of mass transit. Our police have plenty of other things to do.  I know lots of fans are going to be disappointed.  And the players are disappointed.  You should know the players wanted to play this, but . . ah. .   I did talk to the NBA and recommended that . . ah . . . Asked them to . .  uh . .  cancel the game.  It's all up to me.
Bloomberg then went on to say that the city's annual marathon being held on Sunday (when most of the power will would be back on) was not being canceled.

Atlantic Yards Report has covered this already and also created an edited videos mashup of Bloomberg’s two mid-hurricane disaster press promotional statements about the Nets games below:  Wednesday, October 31, 2012, Bloomberg, with no chagrin about reconfirmation yesterday of Brooklyn Nets debut, announces inaugural game against Knicks postponed "at my recommendation"; NBA expresses sympathy with "all those affected"; CEO Yormark does a 180-degree turn.

How could Bloomberg embarrass himself more?  By acknowledging that the hurricane superstorm reflects a changing climate (it almost certainly does) but hedging about whether climate change is caused by human beings (something that's absolutely certain).  At the same press conference Tuesday, Bloomberg said:
Is a storm like this that’s so strong and so unusual a “global warning” incident?  I think what is clear is that the climate’s changing.  Nobody knows whether it is a cicular or a secular thing.  (Sic.)
When Bloomberg said “cicular” he probably meant “cyclical.”   When he said “secular” I thought he probably meant having do to do with day-to-day human activity rather than the divine (not what it actually means- sort of like “secular humanism”) instead of its more obscure meaning of  “occurring or persisting over an indefinitely long period.”  Now, I’m not so sure but in any case it seems clear he meant to say that while he believes climate change is clearly upon us he was irresponsibly dodging endorsement of the scientific consensus that the change in climate is caused by humans.

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