(Adds attempt to reach union official in seventh paragraph.)
Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- New York City will install GPS systems on some of its 1,700 plows and send out crews with video cameras to ensure accountability in cleanup operations amid forecasts that as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow may fall tomorrow.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the steps during a City Hall news conference at which he described as “unacceptable” his administration’s response to a Dec. 26-27 storm that dropped 20 inches of snow on the city and left some streets unplowed for a week.
The city also has 365 salt spreaders to deploy. There have been 70 storms similar in magnitude to the one forecast for tomorrow since the mayor took office Jan. 1, 2002, the mayor said.
“We continue to hold ourselves to very high standards of performance,” Bloomberg said. “While I realize there were problems in the city’s snow-cleaning efforts last week, we want to assure New Yorkers that we are doing everything in our power to make sure we don’t experience those kinds of problems again.”
The GPS devices, to be installed on 50 sanitation trucks in Brooklyn as an experiment, will be equipped with two-way communications capability. The administration will assess whether putting all trucks with the devices would improve operations, Bloomberg said.
Quality of Life
The cameras will be operated by inspectors who work for SCOUT, the city’s Street Conditions Observation Unit. They patrol city streets for “quality of life issues,” such as trash build-up, potholes or graffiti, and during the storm they will make a video record of snow-removal operations, he said.
Harry Nespoli, the sanitation union president, wasn’t immediately available to comment on the plans.
Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether workers or supervisors intentionally slowed snow-removal, said Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Investigation. The mayor said those probes, and his administration’s review of the clean-up operation, will continue.
The mayor said that John Peruggia, chief of the fire department’s emergency medical services for the past six years, had been relieved of his command, partly because of his agency’s response to the storm, during which about 170 ambulances got stuck.
Attempts to reach Peruggia after regular business hours through EMS operations were unsuccessful.
Perugia’s replacement, Abdo Nahmod, was most recently deputy assistant chief overseeing medical dispatch, the department said in a statement.
“He knows an enormous amount about how EMS works,” Bloomberg said during the news conference. “It was time to have a fresh look and since things didn’t work out as well as we had hoped, it’s time to have somebody else come in. Sometimes a new guy can do it better.”
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
--With assistance from Esmé E. Deprez in New York. Editors: Mark Tannenbaum, Ted Bunker
To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Henry Goldman in New York City Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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