Reminding New Yorkers three times that he shoveled his own Brooklyn driveway, Bill de Blasio emphasized his ordinary, outer-borough credentials as he briefed the city on the snowstorm response.
"To my fellow homeowners—and I was shoveling this morning—I would say to all our homeowners, particularly in the outer boroughs, you need to help us," said de Blasio, at a Department of Sanitation repair shop in Queens on Friday morning.
De Blasio, who announced last month that the family will eventually move from Park Slope to Gracie Mansion, joked about 16-year-old son Dante's shoveling duties, giving him an "A" for effort but a "D" for punctuality. And the new mayor, always up for an opportunity to remind New Yorkers of his unusual status among city leaders as a public-school parent, acknowledged that his son had lobbied to close schools today.
De Blasio said he made the final decision on the closure on a 4 a.m. conference call.
On the nuts-and-bolts of the city's storm cleanup, de Blasio boasted his administration deserves an "A," but cautioned the grade could change throughout the day, as streets continued to be plowed and the city braces for plunging temperatures.
As of his 10 a.m. remarks, the mayor said every primary road had been plowed, as well as more than 90 percent of the secondary and tertiary streets, with privately contracted crews being paid to handle the smallest roads.
De Blasio also insisted each borough has been treated equally, after a reporter suggested Manhattan streets fared worse than those in the outer-boroughs, in a conspicuous shift from the complaints under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was accused of favoring Manhattan during the slow response to a 2010 blizzard.
A Department of Sanitation official later confirmed the agency has not changed its priorities or protocols for plowing.
The new mayor, clad in jeans and a jacket bearing the mayor's office seal, sprinkled humor and effusive praise for city workers throughout his press conference, which had the mutual benefit of setting a positive tone with the municipal unions with whom he will soon negotiate expired labor contracts.
"Extraordinary level of performance under tough conditions," he said, standing alongside more than a dozen workers, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, a holdover from the Bloomberg administration, and Harry Nespoli, president of the sanitation-workers union.
Nespoli said he did not typically attend similar briefings under Bloomberg, with whom he clashed in recent years about the expired contracts.
"It's totally different," Nespoli said when comparing the tone of the two mayors. "What you have here is a person that's middle-class, that recognizes the working person and he turns around and he expresses it."