First came the firefighters and the ambulances. Then came the Transportation Department honchos. Then came the politicians, all the way up to Gov. Paterson.
Everyone rushed to Staten Island this morning to deal with the wreckage and the injuries from the latest ferry crash -- everyone, that is, except Mayor Bloomberg.
"The mayor is monitoring the city response," spokesman Jason Post said. Post didn't say where he was monitoring it from, repeating the canned line from the past nine years that Bloomberg's personal time is, well, personal.
He pointed out that Bloomberg didn't make a personal appearance during the last major ferry crash with injuries, in July 2009, and the proper authorities seemed to respond just fine. As Bloomberg would surely point out if he were in front of a microphone today, his job is to hire people who can handle a ferry crash, not to fix it himself.
But the mayor's absence, while Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and the governor fielded questions, highlighted the inscrutable nature of the billionaire's private schedule.
His fondness for Bermuda weekends is well-known. As the owner of a private jet, he was able to celebrate last fall's election victory with an off-the-schedule dinner in Paris. And he has events in London and Berlin on Tuesday, so perhaps he headed there a bit early to check on his rowhouse on Cadogan Square in London.
Whatever the reason, Bloomberg's absence let Paterson fill a leadership void for the cameras, just as the two men are feuding over budget cuts. It created a great opportunity later in the afternoon too, as Paterson suddenly added a 6 p.m. event on his public schedule to "greet New Yorkers" at the corner where a failed car bomb paralyzed Times Square a week earlier.
Click through for the other citywide leaders' reaction.
“Obviously there should be an investigation because even though there were not any serious injuries, it’s something we want to avoid in the future,” Paterson told reporters at the scene. Later, the official city update went out under Sadik-Khan's name, not Bloomberg's
Controller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill deBlasio said they do not know where Bloomberg is. Nor does City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s staff. Liu, a frequent critic of Bloomberg, was fine with this.
“I haven’t been in contact with the mayor or his staff. Nor would I expect to be. The DOT commissioner was handing it. I don’t know what constrained the mayor,” Liu told the DN City Hall Bureau's Kathleen Lucadamo.
As the former head of City Council’s Transportation Committee, who held countless hearings on the 2003 ferry crash and last summer's as well, Liu was more troubled to hear another boat accident occurred.
“One incident can be isolated. Two in a row,” he said, noting this one and the one last summer were due to mechanical woes, “begs more questions.”