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Bloomberg, Dept. Heads Prep For Blizzard Hearing

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Members of the Bloomberg administration will finally be called on the carpet on Monday to publicly explain how they blew the blizzard response.

CBS 2 has learned exclusively that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several department heads have already gotten an advance look at the questions.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty will face a city council firing squad Monday. They won't be blindfolded, though, or blindsided, when they answer questions about the December snow storm, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

The officials already know many of the things council members want answers to because – in what the council insists has always and for decades been standard operating procedure – the mayor's people were given 12 pages of potential questions several days ago.

Among the questions on the list are the following:

- Is it true that snow plows can't operate in snowfalls greater than 20 inches?

- Once you got behind in the plowing, did you have a predetermined plan for catching up, or did you improvise?

With 170 ambulances stuck in the snow and EMS call backlogs rising to as high as 1,300 or 1,400, the council will also want to know if the ambulances had snow chains, and how many people were dead when city personnel finally arrived.

"It's an open-book exam," City Councilman Daniel Halloran said.

Halloran said it's not right that the officials will have the information ahead of time. He said it's okay to indicate general areas of questioning, but giving them specific questions means "they're able to cull their answers and basically have stock answers ready to go."

Mayor Bloomberg, as part of his own prep work for the hearing, met privately at Gracie Mansion Saturday with council leaders. He reportedly offered apologies for his administration's performance and said it would never happen again.

Council officials say it's part of their regular procedure to give out lists of questions, like the ones they gave to the commissioners, so those being questioned can't weasel out and say, "I don't know, I'll have to get back to you."

Council spokesman Jamie McShane explained that the council wanted to make sure the hearings are productive, and not a "cheap shot gotcha session."


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