As a blizzard bore down on New York City on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to carefully coordinate the state and city’s efforts to safeguard the region from the storm — but initially stumbled on how, exactly, to deliver that message to residents.
The two Democrats, who have a complicated relationship, were both in New York but instead of holding a joint news conference, each held their own storm briefing less than five miles apart. The two news conferences were briefly scheduled to start within 15 minutes of each other, making it impossible for them both to be broadcast live to New Yorkers anxious about the storm.
Cuomo’s was eventually moved up, and he finished his news conference in Manhattan just as de Blasio took the microphone in Brooklyn.
Both men downplayed that the apparent scheduling gaffe was anything more than an innocuous quirk of logistics and dismissed any idea that it should affect the confidence of New Yorkers in the government’s ability to coordinate during a crisis.
“We have been totally coordinated,” Cuomo said. “Our staffs are talking, I talk to the mayor all the time, so we’re totally coordinated.”
The odd — and perhaps inadvertent — dance began Sunday night, when City Hall released de Blasio’s schedule for Monday. It showed a storm briefing for 11:30 a.m. but noted that it could change due to developing weather conditions.
The next morning, at 10:04 a.m., Cuomo’s staff advised of a 1 p.m. news conference with the head of the region’s transit system. Four minutes later, de Blasio’s staff noted that the mayor would be speaking at 12:45 p.m.
A flurry of wry jokes among political reporters followed before Cuomo moved his briefing to noon, avoiding the conflict. It was not immediately clear why the two men did not schedule a joint news conference.
Though Cuomo was in Manhattan, de Blasio suggested that “there’s a lot going on in Albany” that prevented the governor from appearing with him, before declaring that their staffs were marching in lockstep: “Our teams literally were on the phone minutes before we came in here, and there’s a great deal of agreement on how to approach this.”
Both men’s staffs knocked down any suggestion of an ulterior motive for the separate scheduling and insisted that the response to the storm was far more important than any political inside baseball.
De Blasio and Cuomo, who have known each other for 20 years, often praise each other publicly but their political plans have frequently conflicted.