Godzilla, renowned expert on disasters, big cities, marine life, romance, and other topics, took a few minutes to answer my questions about yesterday’s Snowmageddon in New York City:
Q: Godzilla, as you know, Mayor de Blasio took some heat yesterday for keeping NYC schools open during the latest Snowmageddon. What was the deal?
A: True Boots, you know I’m not one to get involved with politics. But I gotta give it to a guy who stands up and says, “Hey, I know that snowflakes the size of marbles are blowing horizontally at you at 30 miles an hour, and that ten inches of gooey slush are basically smothering the City, but all you kids need to stop your sniveling and get to school.” I mean, wishy-washy Washington D.C. can give up and shut down the government, but New Yorkers expect kids to wipe up their tears, get tough, and just get out there. Life isn’t just a bunch of sunny days, you know? I like it. That guy doesn’t mess around.
Q: So you think it was the right thing to do?
A: Seriously, it was a tough call, and people were going to get mad no matter what he did. But to keep City offices open, to get Department of Sanitation salt spreaders, snowplows, and extra labor out there to clear the roads, to keep public transit moving–it gave everyone the option to get tough and get to work (which is what I did), or to call in, work from home, keep their kids home from school, or whatever worked for them. The City wasn’t going to tell them what they had to do–the City was just going to do its thing and stay open like it did in the other snowstorms that happened this year. You hear people crying that government tells them what to do, then you hear them crying that it’s not telling them what to do. Which is it? New York City workers were out there plowing snow, driving buses, patrolling the streets, teaching kids, and otherwise making it happen whether people wanted to appreciate that or not.
Q: The City released a transportation advisory saying that conditions made travel hazardous and to stay off the roads if possible. But then the City announced that schools would be open. What were people supposed to think?
A: Here’s the thing. If people can keep their cars off the road, that makes room for snowplows and City buses. Gridlock in snow helps no one, meanwhile our City has a pretty comprehensive mass transit system that can move a lot of people if they can just be patient. Maybe they should let me do the public messaging. What they did left too much room for whiny people to whine about mixed messaging. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that if the City’s asking you to stay off the roads, then maybe you could take mass transit, and maybe you could take your kid on mass transit also. IF you chose to take your kid to school. It wasn’t ideal, but neither was ten inches of snow.
Q: People said it wasn’t safe for kids to go to school, and they’ve accused the new administration of pandering to social welfare ideas of what public schools are for, like day care for working parents, hot meals for disadvantaged kids, and all that. Less than 45% of NYC’s 1.1 million schoolkids ended up attending. Shouldn’t they have just cancelled it?
A: You know what’s not safe for kids? I’m not safe for kids. A wise mother told me that she doesn’t want to teach her young son that he shouldn’t have to go to school or work just because the weather makes it inconvenient. The City stayed open to give parents a choice. Only about 20% of registered voters showed up for the NYC primary election last September, and it wasn’t even raining. But we still keep having elections because that’s the kind of City we live in, and the kind of country we live in. Kids have a right to go to school here, and parents have a right to expect schools to stay open whenever possible. I pay NYC taxes, and I expect for NYC to give its best shot at staying open and continuing services, including schools. Yeah, there can be snow days sometimes. But there’s no telling how long this weird winter is going to last, so I can’t blame de Blasio for toughing this one out.
Q: Why was Al Roker so angry? His tweets blasting the Mayor seemed to come out of nowhere.
A: I have no idea.
Q: Did you see that Rep. Michael Grimm posted on his Facebook page calling the Mayor’s decision to keep schools open “deplorable” and telling his constituents to stay at home?
A: I will break him like a boy.
Q: Are you doing anything special for Valentine’s Day?