Snowstorm Post Mortem: How Safety and Administrative Convenience Trumped Needs of the Working Class

When it became clear that the supposedly epic blizzard of earlier this week was overhyped, at least as far as New York City was concerned, we wondered about the thinking process that led to the only shutdown of the entire public transportation system for a snowstorm. It turns out the decision was made by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio did not have a vote. From Gothamist:

Gov. Cuomo decided to shut down NYC Transit subway and bus service on Monday ahead of an anticipated blizzard, which came as a surprise to transit workers and experts…and City officials. Cuomo told the press his office was “totally coordinated” with the mayor on the effort, but Mayor de Blasio disagrees: aides say he was only given between 15 and 30 minutes warning before Cuomo made the announcement at 4:45 p.m. on Monday.

“We did not get a lot of advance notice,” de Blasio said yesterday at a City Hall press conference. “I think it was a very big move and certainly something we would have liked to have had some more dialogue on.”

I suspect NC readers are capable of reading between the lines as to what really went on.

We raised doubts about this measure, on a philosophical as well as a practical level. As we noted,

I’m bothered by the continued creep of safety concerns being used to restrict individual movements. Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but citizens used to be deemed competent to make prudent choices.

Those who worked in the city were effectively forced to repair to their homes. Yes, this was not technically a curfew, you could still go outside, but with stores, eateries, gyms, and bars closed, unless you have a dog or got a bit of cabin fever and needed to stretch your legs, there wasn’t much point in going out. Similarly, New York State also imposed a $300 fine for being on the road after the witching hour. As Brooklyn Bridge pointed out:

Not just fools are entitled to basic rights. I can easily imagine cases where being able to travel would save lives. It’s not always easy, financially or otherwise, to arrange for contingencies ahead of time. People can, through no fault of their own, be caught in situations where evacuation becomes critical. Waiting for official channels to send someone to get you can be impractical, impossible or absurd as in the case of Katrina. It’s also true as Yves points out that much of purpose of these restrictions is for the convenience of authorities (to touch only on the less dark sides of the motivations) and only ostensibly for the protection of citizens.

For the time being, I suspect that given the right circumstances, (such as being white and moderately affluent), one could escape penalty with a compelling story.

I too would assume that defying the ban while black or Hispanic would have much higher odds of being hit with the fine than driving while white.

But the real, largely untold story of the transit shutdown and travel restrictions was the impact on people who were working what amounted to second and third shift, meaning not white collar professionals but service workers and their managers, most of all those with long commutes, as well as staff (nurses, orderlies, cooks, cleaners) in New York’s many hospitals. Key extracts from a post by libbyliberal at Corrente:

Monday’s predicted blizzard for NYC caused me more than a little cognitive dissonance over the state/city executive decision to shut down the subway system from between 11pm and 8am. It interfered with my own transportation needs for getting to and from work so I opted to lose a night’s pay in a work situation that was thankfully reasonable enough to grant me that. (Not generous enough to compensate me for such a formidable transportation challenge, mind you.)

As the week moves on, I have been hearing that the subway closure caused gratuitous stress for great numbers of people. I have run into retail workers and their managers who had to anxiously hustle their ways homeward via subway praying and racing against that 11pm deadline whereby the ENTIRE NYC subway service would turn into the proverbial pumpkin. It would be turned off completely rather than slowed or limited. From local news I became aware that the very emergency workers who were helping New York City cope with the snowstorm were themselves major victims of the subway closure. WTF?…

I just came across an article by Jerry White entitled “Politically driven hysteria over the New York City snowstorm that wasn’t”. White accuses state, local and regional authorities including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, NJ Governor Chris Christie of fear-mongering with their declarations of a super-emergency and the “virtual lockdown” of us 8 million residents of New York City. These authorities are now asserting a “better safe than sorry” defense of their decisions after the storm clout proved minimal in the City itself. I also see these gentlemen using the storm for political grandstanding.

White explains that the histrionics of the authorities and the media caused a run on supermarkets and gas stations. Threats of fines and arrests for driving one’s car was also stressed on the media to residents. The National Guard was deployed in New York State. White sees this as an ominous pattern in “post-9/11 America.” Authorities and corporate media keep frightening Americans, utilizing whatever is convenient to do so, including the weather..

White quotes a “transit insider” who shared this with the Atlantic magazine:

The closure will strand people and put lives at risk, not because the subways can’t run, but because Cuomo wants to look good, … I think it’s a horrible, purely political decision, not based on anything that’s needed. It seemed like cutting out a necessary lifeline unnecessarily…..

White maintains that political authorities are most concerned with the needs of the elite residents of NYC and not so much the practical needs of those far lower down the economic ladder.

Every natural disaster uncovers the deep class chasm in America.

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the city’s then-mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the utility giants made sure electricity was quickly restored to the New York Stock Exchange and the luxury high-rise apartments in Manhattan, while working-class and poor residents of the city were abandoned without water and electricity.

Aside from these considerations, the ruling class saw in the storm an opportunity to promote an atmosphere of hysteria and create new precedents for extraordinary state actions. Fearful of the eruption of popular opposition over the immense levels of social inequality and the retrograde policies of both big-business parties, the response of the political establishment to every potential disruption of the continued accumulation of wealth by the super-rich, even uncertain prospects of a heavy snowfall, is police state measures: lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, etc.

This week in New York City, we saw the methods of the “war on terror” deployed to fight snowflakes falling from the sky.

Is Jerry White taking the analysis way too far?

Or is he onto something in terms of a “learned helplessness” and “a state of chronic disorientation” and “cognitive dissonance” being cultivated by the political patriarchy and media within us — us citizens whose basic needs are given less and less empathy and respect by the authorities, even though these same authorities insist through media that their decisions are made to honor and prioritize our needs?

Yves here. I’m inclined to see the behavior of the authorities, at least at the city and state level, as less calculated, less about inculcating obedience in the population, and more a reflection of the creeping, ugly, more authoritarian post 9/11 new normal. Government officials have new tools and new powers at their disposal, and they’ve come to see their use as routine. In some ways, this casualness about restricting movement and invading privacy is much worse that scheming to remake society, because officials would be planning changes and could be challenged by other insiders, or even their own doubts, about the wisdom of their initiatives. A slow erosion of the space in which individuals are allowed to operate freely is much harder to pin on individual and group decisions, and thus much more difficult to combat.

In other words, White is right about the implications, but I’d argue wrong about how we are getting there. But what is your view of the mechanisms of authority state creep, and what if anything can we do about it?

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  1. Scott

    As someone who lives in the suburbs and works in Boston, I really had no trouble with the city essentially being shutdown. The much larger problem was following the Marathon bombings when the entire city and many suburbs were shutdown so the cops could get the suspects. I could not go to work in Newton as there was a shelter in place warning, despite the office being far from both the shootings and the suspects.

    1. Larry

      The Marathon bombing shelter in place was the most ridiculous thing ever. The farce was highlighted by the fact that the hundreds (thousands?) of police officers determined that Tsarniav was in a certain area of Watertown and were wrong. How they drew up that area of interest is beyond me. Luckily for them, a resident decided to go outside for a smoke and found Tsarniav hiding in his boat.

      I agree with you that this incident was a much better example of the authority creep that Yves is getting at here.

      I think for a snowstorm the overly protective measures are about politics. Better to be cautious than have a school bus full of children stuck in the snow somewhere, or hundreds of people trapped on a commuter rail or subway underground. A few years ago Providence RI got walloped by a snow storm but the schools did not go for early dismissal. Buts got stuck in multiple locations and parents couldn’t locate their elementary school aged children who were stuck on busses somewhere in the city. It became a logistical nightmare and the Governor and the mayor took a lot of heat for it. Seeing stranded kids on the 11 pm local news does not do wonders for your competence ratings. To me, this is what Cuomo’s orders were about in this storm. Better to be a nervous Nellie than a fearless fool.

      1. casino implosion

        It was the duty of every Boston citizen to defy that imposition of martial law, which we’ll look back on with retrospect as a landmark moment in the destruction of our civil rights. Every one of youse ought to have taken to the streets.

      2. Larry Headlund

        Two added points about the Marathon shutdown.
        1. No every business was required to shutdown. a donut shop in Watertown was kept open for the police to use. You can’t make this stuff up.
        2. Dzhokhar Tsarnev was found after the lockdown was lifted and the resident was permitted to go into his own backyard and discovered him.

  2. Moneta

    Life is not black or white. Things happen. Especially in a city of multi-millions. So when he imposed these drastic measures, he did not necessarily reduce risk. He just transferred it to a different set of people. He just forced many people to take other drastic measures to get things done.

    1. hunkerdown

      He transferred certain people’s risk onto other people least equipped to handle it. The sudra serve the brahmin.

  3. jjmacjohnson

    I know this is right up there with the city banning smoking in bars and restaurants. Did not see you bring up the comparison. Hopefully in next article on this subject. I miss it.

    1. Jamie

      Not at all the same. You taking the subway to work harms me not at all. You smoking at the table next to me gives me cancer.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        And most important, employees like bartenders and waiters who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. Another lack of concern for working people.

  4. Moneta

    Authorities and corporate media keep frightening Americans, utilizing whatever is convenient to do so, including the weather..
    But bailouts and QE fixed everything and the economy is just fine… LOL!

    I am always fascinated by how the news is typically negative in anything but the investment section. The only time the investment section is truly negative is when the markets can not go any lower.

    If you want to be cheery 99% of the time, only read the investment section.

  5. Paul

    What…no mention of the local weather “repeaters”…err…”reporters”.

    They were the origin of the problem. Once these, unqualified by any reasonable benchmark, clowns got on the air and started trying to “one up” each other, it was game over for officialdom. At that point Cuomo, Christie and DeBlassio had almost no choice — as anything less than full-on “crisis mode” would have left them exposed.

    The weather clowns pull this same stunt at least once every winter here in the tri-state area…but don’t worry, there will be no punishment for what was essentially yelling fire in a theatre and although no one may have of been killed, the resultant economic damage was massive, in the hundreds of millions at least.

    Now move along.

    1. diptherio

      Sorry, but it’s a well-known fact that weather forecasts are often inaccurate. I’m sure Cuomo is aware of that. And TV meteorologists don’t have the ability to shut down a city’s transportation system. Let’s give credit where it’s due.

      According to your analysis, this is not a problem with authoritarian political leaders, but rather over-zealous weathermen…really?

      1. hunkerdown

        Though Paul does have an interesting point there… why are we getting weather data and forecasts from commercially minded intermediaries instead of the NOAA directly? Oh, right, because markets…

    2. JustAnObserver

      Interesting to compare with superstorm/hurricane Sandy. In that case the US forecasters got its track wrong until only shortly before (1-2 days) the storm hit whereas the European Center for Medium Range Forecasting got the track right from 5 days out – plenty of time to take emergency measures – but was ignored … `cos Exceptionalism ?

      Anybody know what the ECMRF was predicting for this snowstorm ?

      Sidenote: Turns out the the Sandy prediction differences were down the finer computational grid used by the Euros – 16km vs. 24 km for the NOAA. Which, in turn, is down to having the supercomputing capacity for the finer grid. The butterfly effect means that the finer the grid the longer your predictions can retain validity before they get drowned in chaos.

      The NOAA have (out of embarrassment ?) taken delivery of the supermachines needed to upgrade to 16km just at the point the Euros are going down to 10km.

      1. Bart Fargo

        Actually this time the European model was the main one that was predicting the snowpocalypse for NYC and NJ. The lesson many meteorologists took from Sandy (and other recent major storms) was that the European model was more dependable than the US NWS’ Global Forecast System (GFS), and thus forecasters last weekend favored the Euro over the GFS, which was predicting much milder snowfall for everywhere south and west of NYC. The GFS was updated in late 2014, which among other things increased its spatial resolution to 13km. Its performance last weekend bodes well for its dependability – now we just have to hope our aging GOES satellite network holds out, since the Europeans depend on US satellite data as well.

  6. Sam Kanu

    Worst of all, the anticipated weather conditions would not even have surpassed the level of a “normal” situation in say Oslo or Helsinki. How incompetent can such highly paid municipal management authorities be?

    But that authoritarianism was the response, is very apt. Americans have long laid down and accepted this on many dimensions. So much for the “land of freedom” mythology. It’s now more like: the powers-that-be feel free to tell everyone what to do – or else.

  7. Damian

    “……..create new precedents for extraordinary state actions”

    as a cynic – this is the core of the program at every opportunity – they study the reaction of the masses like bugs or guinea pigs – what level of control can we exact on the population no matter how inane or illogical – will they buy it? can we measure the reaction?

    The Gardner case in many ways was a study of control as well – can you have secret tribunals adjudicating selective facts with subjective interpretations coupled with immunity for 4 who swear to the lie of one…. in lieu of your lying eyes in a video for making judgments / decisions. what will the masses do and how far can we push to illogic before they revolt? and even if they revolt so what?

    Massive mind control starts with people believing a planned asbestos removal project was something else 15 years ago.

    All answers lead to pretty far – yet to go – before we have a breaking point and even then will be no more than a ….cry in the woods

  8. Carolinian

    Hasn’t NYC always had a class divide when it comes to transportation? I know when i lived there many years ago it was common practice for the better off to hire drivers to double park their cars (if a driver is in the car it is “standing” rather than “parking”) and wait for the owners while they shopped or dined. Of course to simply own a car in New York you often have to have a garage parking space which, some recent reports indicate, can cost more than an apartment. Then there were the UN delegates with diplomatic plates who would pretty much park their cars anywhere they wanted.

    NY struck me as a fun place to live if you were rich, still fun but a lot harder if you weren’t.

    1. Sam Kanu

      then there were the UN delegates with diplomatic plates who would pretty much park their cars anywhere they wanted.

      Believe you me, in any major city in the world this is the case with diplomats – US diplomats included. They all claim that the ” immunity to taxation” rules which apply to all diplomats, also pertain to municipal fees and fines.

      So that isnt really about the UN per se – its just par for the course in any city of import.

  9. MartyH

    Reflecting on Yves’s comment:

    Yves here. I’m inclined to see the behavior of the authorities, at least at the city and state level, as less calculated, less about inculcating obedience in the population, and more a reflection of the creeping, ugly, more authoritarian post 9/11 new normal.

    One should remember that it is always a shame to let a good crisis (real or imagined) go to waste. It was an excuse to exercise their new “toys” (administrative weapons) and impose their dominion. The Great are sufficiently sheltered from the implications of their pronouncements that they suffer little for the disruption they cause.

    1. flora

      Yes. And, since the current round of TPP negotiations were being held in NYC at the Times Square Sheraton this week, with activists calling for protest demos on 1/26, shutting down public transport was a two-fer for Cuomo – ‘public safety’ and hobbling protest activity. (Indifference to the blue collar people who needed to get to their jobs is no surprise.)

      1. hunkerdown

        Aha, I think you nailed it. The snowstorm was the pretext, and The Grand Betrayal, International Edition was the motivating factor…

  10. E.L. Beck

    “I’m a dinosaur, but citizens used to be deemed competent to make prudent choices.”

    That ideal went out the window with the late 19th century rise of government administration. Start treating citizens as individual idiots, such as one learns in neoclassical economic theory, and you basically create a self-fulfilling prophecy some 150 years later.

  11. TG

    Agreed. We are moving to a top-down model where the elites just don’t give a damn about the working class.

    Whenever Obama throws a party for his rich banker buddies, they basically shut down the entire center of a city and regular folks are under lockdown. There is zero care about the disruption to the lives of people like us, we just don’t count.

    When Obama travels he creates horrible traffic jams as whole freeways are closed. Recently he was caught joking with his rich buddies ‘hey I didn’t notice any traffic problems!’ Haha. Pass the champagne.

    There should be outrage. The mayors should just refuse to cooperate. But no. The desires of the people are simply irrelevant. The rich care about our complaints about as much as a farmer cares about the noises that insects make.

    There was an incident where a pregnant woman en route to the hospital was delayed a half hour because the cops had been ordered not to let anyone cross the road because Obama was planning to maybe use it. The cops could have jus escorted her across – the street was empty at the time – but of course orders are orders.

    I suppose the next step is that we will be required to avert our eyes should one of the elite cross our paths (a security concern you see. If someone stares at a member of the elite they might be planning an assault). Although I suppose on the bright side the elite are so isolated from the lumpen that this won’t happen very often…

      1. hunkerdown

        We’ve already got them, under the guise of anti-counterfeiting laws. Not that the supply of “designer” handbags seems to be much quenched, but it’s a good excuse for violating the rights of the underlings as is their due maintaining civil order.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Worse than that.

      He had a fundraiser in the Upper East Side. The entire block was shut to traffic AND pedestrians for five or six hours. Residents on the block were not permitted to leave their buildings. That meant that people coming home from work could not go home until the fundraiser was over and businesses on the block had to close early.

      I saw a man with a 10 year old girl, which from the exchange with the cop was his daughter. He was trying to get her to her mother, who I assume was his ex-wife, who lived on that block. He was not permitted to take her to the building. The mother was not allowed to come and get her. The cops were not allowed/able to even escort the girl to the building.

      This is where we are. A 10 year old girl is deemed to a security threat.

      The cop was at least apologetic because this was, after all, the Upper East Side and cops are deferential to the natives in this ‘hood.

  12. Ulysses

    “Government officials have new tools and new powers at their disposal, and they’ve come to see their use as routine. In some ways, this casualness about restricting movement and invading privacy is much worse that scheming to remake society, because officials would be planning changes and could be challenged by other insiders, or even their own doubts, about the wisdom of their initiatives. A slow erosion of the space in which individuals are allowed to operate freely is much harder to pin on individual and group decisions, and thus much more difficult to combat.”

    Yes, the sad truth is all too many “ordinary civilians” also have the pro-authoritarian, junior deputy hall-monitor attitude in spades. I find myself cringing nearly every day when I see just how often young people are glared at and intimidated into conformist behavior by the enforcers of orthodoxy. My guess is that the recent upsurge in popularity of eyebrow piercings, tattoos, etc., among high bourgeois white youth, is because that is one of the few forms of safe, symbolic rebellion left. Now we live in a world where carrying a booming boombox, or smoking a joint in the park, could easily get you tazed, or even worse, by the police– who will surely be called upon by some earnest “good citizen,” whenever kids are being kids.

  13. 2little 2late

    If this had turned out to be an actual severe storm, city residents would have been told to immediately return to their dwellings, seal an interior room with plastic and duct tape, and await further communications from a department minister. It’s for your own safety.

    I’m glad I live in deep, dark Appalachia. While it may be the norm here for siblings to marry creating very shallow gene pools that shop daily for cases of yellow carbonated fake-fruit drinks, disposable plastic diapers and tobacco plugs at large discount stores called marts, anyone, official or not, demanding residents not to drive or mingle about during a snowstorm would be met with the wrong end of a scattergun. I like that last part a lot.

  14. dimmsdale

    I have assumed that the calculus involving systemwide transit shutdown this past week had to do with police and city officials gaming through all the worst-case scenarios involving stalled trains, frozen switches, marooned busses, lack of serious snow-removal equipment for the transit lines servicing the outer boroughs, etc., and attendant lawsuits, the the peril for emergency workers (not just EMTs, police and fire, but also transit employees) called on, in dire conditions, to cope with the snow and ice.

    Possibly this is an overly credulous view, and perhaps even wrong. But it seems to me that the weather forecasts were unanimously dire well past the point that any systemic-closure decisions had to happen.

    However, I’ve always thought that one of the most catastrophic legacies of 911 has been a certain “not on MY watch” mindset, in which officialdom amplifies the dictum of “better safe than sorry” to an absurd level of over-reaction, especially where public safety is concerned. As I say, I don’t THINK that was primarily in effect here, but I see it otherwise in the continual demand for compliance with whatever officialdom deems necessary, no matter how burdensome on ordinary citizens, to “keep us safe.” In other words, we are ALL paying a price for Dick Cheney’s lackadaisical derelictions regarding national security prior to 9/11, and his massive, totalistic over-reactions post-9/11, which stemmed from his fecklessness beforehand.

    As to the class thing: I work in the same building as a major investment bank, which stayed open for business regardless. All of the food shops on the ground floor, staffed by hourly fast-food workers, announced they’d be “closed tomorrow” on the eve of the snowstorm, and remained so the next day, and presumably ALL their workers sat out a payless “day off.” (Obviously, fast food workers–unlike investment bankers–can’t “work from home”.) Multiply THAT around the city, and there’s real pain there.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I can see an argument for canceling bus service, and many NYC long distance commuters do take express buses, so there was no pretty answer here.

      Hoever, many trains were kept running, empty, during the storm to keep the tracks clear. I omitted that part from the post.

  15. Denis Drew

    Another thing Mayor Mike Bloomberg did after crime went down 4X — besides increase unnecessary stop-and-frisks 7X (28X as many per reported crime) — was to build a brand new unnecessary $500 million dollar (today’s money) courthouse in the Bronx — my old home town.

    How unnecessary? The beautiful, like new “old” courthouse still in pristine condition may be viewed here (Google street):,-73.922926,3a,75y,258.24h,98.23t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s9k3ecQ3lmUiF6B3BQADOCg!2e0!6m1!1e1

    A beautiful actually new “old” courthouse that opened in 1977 to catch the crime wave may be viewed here:,-73.921387,3a,75y,87.93h,100.13t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1spjkPj6jfITr8dcXtD1Qatw!2e0!6m1!1e1 Mad Mayor Bloomberg’s superfluous Palace of Justice may be seen in the picture right down the block behind it.

    When I was growing up there, our middle class with our 19 inch black and white TVs and our high school educations would have stormed city hall before allowing such crazy waste — quite literally. But, we, today’s middle class, are nothing now — no economic or political power. Ditto for shutting down the subways without consulting us.

    * * * * * * * * * *
    The ultimate – federally prosecutable — sweetheart labor contract may be no contract at all.

    No one would doubt the criminality of a mob union boss and/or an employer threatening to fire workers for speaking out against a mobbed-up sweetheart contract – in order to obtain for themselves the pay and benefit moneys that might otherwise have gone to employees through fair bargaining practices. A for certain RICO or Hobbs Act target.

    Why shouldn’t the exact same extortionate activity be view in the exact same extortionate light when union busting “consultants” and ownership threaten to strip away workers’ economic livelihoods should they dare to participate in a federally approved path to establish federally approved union bargaining rights?
    US Attorneys — Criminal Resource Manual 2403

    In current (virtually universal) practice this economically — and by extension politically — ruinous extortion is “punished” only under administrative law laid down by the National Labor Relations Board — and employers found guilty pay only a (usually small) compensation for lost wages (not a penalty).

    Alternate route: if any state independently outlaws this form of labor market extortion with a penalty of at least one year in prison, federal prosecution can automatically step in.
    * * * * * * * * * *
    PS. The Mad Mayor perped the same unnecessary waste in Brooklyn to the unnecessary tune of $750 million:,-73.987165,3a,75y,222.82h,100.11t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sE5NMvE9XDd4GvPr-r1B9QQ!2e0

    It’s Parkinson’s Law: 911 creates the impetus — but nothing is in the way anymore.

  16. Pat

    Please do not underestimate Cuomo’s presidential aspirations in all this. He is/was vastly embarrassed by the debacle in upstate NY earlier in the year when the media discovered a buried Buffalo. Something that came out in the myriad of news conferences that surrounded this was that equipment had been deployed to the wrong area in that incident (no one said Cuomo, but I’m pretty damn sure anyone making that bet would be a winner). And once again it was for the elites (equipment from upstate sent downstate…)
    He had to be a leader, unflappable but in charge. THIS was his chance and on a national stage as well. That it was both a bust, a money loser and overkill is just going to make the next time even worse.

    BTW, in one of those endless conferences, when he was blaming the weather forecasts, he let it drop that NY will be building their own state of the art system to monitor, model and forecast the weather strictly for NY. I’m pretty damn sure it was news to more people then me, including the members of our state legislature. I also had to wonder what necessary service to the public would be cut in order to make that happen.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      His presidential aspirations are over as a result of Zephyr Teachout. The fact that a candidate who spent less than $1 million, ran NO TV ads, and forced Cuomo into spending significant $ on ads and making sure the New York Times and other outlets endorsed him, nevertheless got 33.5% of the vote in the primary. That demonstrated to the Democratic party (and funding is way more centralized than it used to be) nad big bundlers/funders that Cuomo is damaged goods. And his standing is even worse now that the indictment of Sheldon Silver has put the spotlight on his shuttering the Moreland Commission.

    2. craazyman

      We have our own special weather in New York, particularly in Manhattan. It is more intelligent, better looking, more talented and more creative than weather anywhere else — even in Los Ageles! They have fake weather in Los Angeles, they just make it up in their heads. New York weather is a little neurotic, but that’s a small price to pay for its genius. It certainly merits its own forecasting system. We need to better understand it so we can give it all the support it needs.

  17. 6th-generation Texan

    How much of these mandatory curfews and shut-ins during blizzards/hurricanes/etc is done at the behest of the mega-insurance companies? After all, if people are kept off the roads in such risky environments then they can’t be wrecking their vehicles and cashing in on their insurance policies. The amount of potential savings in insurance payouts must be in the multi-millions (not only from the actual damage to the vehicles themselves, but even more so from the medical costs of injured drives and passengers).

    I would bet that a chart showing the increasing number of these shut-in orders and the deteriorating financial situation of the big insurance corporations since 2008 would be very interesting….

  18. Erik

    It is that slow accumulation of new powers that is at issue. The next new governor feels the need to “act like” a governor and brandish the levers of power at his or her disposal. So powers that were intended to be restrained get used more than expected.

    It doesn’t take any moustachio-wringing conspiracy for the same effects of elitism to occur. Like the weather itself it’s a complex, chaotic system with clear inputs and outputs but where the middle is very unclear. It is the end result of a neo-liberal global economy plus a country where money equals unrestrained speech both politically and in the media. If fear and control and (a false sense of) security benefit the elite, that is what we will get.

  19. nat scientist

    “Because they can” demonstrations like turning off the Staten Island Ferry for snow so pedestrians are disabled to service lower Manhattan are mathematical proof of totalitarianism. If the City was impeded by snow on the surface, they built tunnels (sub-ways) already to solve that. Snow don’t Flow. The brave impositions singularly-focused on the easiest to ID and truly brave ebola workers “because they can” are done in an abundance of disrespect for the uncommon individuals by the power-gluttons mis-representing the comfortably ignorant.
    The deciders and their enforcers get overtime and pensions the entire “downtime” while the ones who sacrifice everything to show up or get nothing or lose the day’s business gets crippled by fiat.
    The new normal is here. Be silent and accept your disappearance.

  20. MarcoPolo

    What can we do? After cell phones were turned off in Boston by the same politicians (see comments above) I got a ham radio license. When the zombie apocalypse comes I can talk to my sons and will be a part of a community that will share that capability with anyone we can reach on the radio.

  21. Kyle

    “A nation of laws not men.”

    There’s quite too much of this going around. Much like Perry’s mandate in Texas that would have forced vaccination for the papilloma virus. Fortunately, in Texas there appears to be a sufficient remnant of the old school politics that those with an excess of hubris and overreach such as Delay or Perry get taken down. Still, little kings are want to pop up wherever there’s an opportunity.

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